My heart aches with love for my big dog; it experiences something much less for Jesus, whose presence often makes me feel little more than simply "safer." It's hard for me to wrap my broken heart around this. It's harder still to fathom that there is one more truth buried in this recognition, and it is this:
As much as I love my big dog, and as much as I long to love Jesus at least as much, His tender whisper contains the truth: I love you more.
He loves me more than the deepest love I can fathom. All the ache that is in my heart with all the little things I know about my big dog in a broken world, it is only a shadow of the ache in His heart for me. Everything that I have said is true about my big dog, about all the things that I know about her, Jesus knows all this about me and more.
He knows how excited I get when you say anything that sounds like "grace" in my presence, how I'm going to open my eyes a little wider and look around in anticipation until something like grace happens. He knows how I notice all these little things that most people don't see, and that I remember where I saw them. He knows that there are things in this world that scare me, but that I try to pretend to be brave anyway, and that I'm just the kind of person who will throw myself between someone else and danger. I will say that it is love that makes me do this, and maybe it is, but I must also confess that in the moment, I generally forget what love is, even while I am actively doing it.
He knows that I soak up stories like a sponge and that I can't let go of a single word, whether it's mine or someone else's. He knows that I worry the most about my broken heart, wondering how much more of this broken world it can possibly take. He knows that I'm torn between my burden and my blessing, between my call and what feels like a shortage of courage. He knows that my heart knows more answers than it pretends because the questions feel so heavy.
He knows every little thing about me, and the depth of His love for me makes His heart ache. That's hard for me to understand, even though I know it in some small measure when I look in my big dog's eyes. I'm just a pup, just a young pup. Who is this Jesus who knows me?
Who is this Jesus whose heart aches?
I feel unworthy of it, like this is not what I was meant for. Was I meant to make God's heart ache? It's easy to condemn myself here, to want to be a 'better' pup because love should not hurt. Love should not ache. It should not be a pain to Jesus to love me.
Yet, in a broken world, this is precisely what love does. It aches.
And so, I am heartbroken all over again because of this broken world. Because of the same things that make my heart ache over my big dog. Now, they make me ache for Jesus, too, in recognition of the ache that He has for this young pup. Did you follow that? Let me say it another way, one that perhaps sounds more familiar, more biblical, one to which I did not know I was working until this very moment:
I love because He first loved me.
I ache because He aches for me.
Everything I know about my big dog, I learned because my real Big Dog loves this young pup so very much. And maybe, just maybe, I love Him more than I feel like I know how. But for now, I'm content to chase frisbees of grace.
Because around here, you say anything that sounds like "grace," and I just can't help myself. My tail starts to wag....