Last night as we were singing this Christmas song, the final words we sang (because we don’t always know all the words to the songs we choose) really made me smile and they made me think. “He makes the nations prove…the wonders of His love!” Whoa…what does that really look like?
Fast forward a few freezing hours to this morning. (BTW, houses with crawl spaces DO need to have insulation underneath. It’s now on our ever growing list.) So, I feel a certain “beat the clock” pressure each day to move our work site into something that looks more like a home. But, that feeling hasn’t been translating into actual productivity lately. Because of that, I just feel a discouraging pressure and vague sense of looming shame over the fact that I haven’t used my time wisely or accomplished what “I had time to do” but didn’t use it efficiently.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18
One of the wonders of His love for me today is to remind me that there is no shame or punishment in hosting a party (my Dad’s 70th this weekend) in an unfinished house. Stress, a form of anxiety, which is a form of fear, has to do with punishment…which includes shame.
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory. For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:10-19
Being rooted and established in love, filled to the measure of the all the fullness of God, Christ dwells in my heart through faith…all this is not based on my accomplishments before the eyes of others nor before the throne of God, but upon HIS accomplishments. While I still want to prove to others the wonders of my Martha Stewartness (which have never existed, but that is neither here nor there), His greater will is that I take part in demonstrating the wonders of His love.
It is a wonder that He does not love based on utility or accomplishment, because that is all our natural inclinations know. It is a wonder that He does not love only the beautiful and breathtaking. It is a wonder that He does not only value the finished, the perfected, and the complete. It is a wonder that He is at peace with and cherishes the rough drafts, because HE will complete the final edits. It is a wonder that He cherishes the heart and does not get distracted by the outer appearance.
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Cor. 1:27-31 Even as my stubborn, prideful heart resists this wondrous love and so frequently determines to fill up on my own accomplishments instead (which never are completed), would the wonders of His love for me turn my eyes away from my unfinished estate (in every sense of the word) to love wondrously those who enter my home in the coming days. To wait to love others fully until I think I have “arrived”, spiritually or on the home renovation front, would be to totally misunderstand the glory and graciousness of the Gospel. To love as I have been loved, to see the “glory self” or the future redemption of that which may currently be unseen, is only possible by faith. But oh, what a wonder of His love that might be! For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Is. 9:6