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The Paradox of Love

    Sometimes loving God and experiencing His love is like walking through a beautiful scented garden, linking arms with a beloved friend, sharing our most secret hopes and dreams, plans and aspirations, as well as offloading our worries and our stresses. It is so easy, so relaxed, so comfortable. It just seems perfect, like Heaven would have it be. All the Scripture promises bounce into our minds at these times and they resonate with joy and delight. It is so easy to sing, and pray. We feel on top of the world with our relationship with Jesus.

    But then at other times on our journey with God, we experience times when the going can get really tough. We feel as if we are crawling and groping through dense undergrowth in a dark bushy forest. The way ahead is totally blocked with thorny bushes and we cannot see where we are going. During these times it can be difficult to 'sense' God's presence with us, and we may feel abandoned, rejected, and deeply hurt by Him. Some of us find it hard to pray, or read our Bible, and can even lose direction all together during these times.

    This is how it is with true human love. Only those who dream about it (or write the movie scripts!) imagine love to be all rosy and sweet plain sailing, but for those who have lived the way of love know that it is also strewn with thorny patches, and truly difficult times. This is not a sign that love has gone at all, nor in order to discourage or to kill love, but rather to test and to prove love and bring it to its full and most beautiful vintage quality. The trials show us how keenly we yearn for this love;how strongly we need it; how much we are prepared to give up in order to have it or to keep it.Young lovers do not usually know of this love, but after their first major argument, the first test begins, and that teenage heartache we all remember so well reminds of this time. Songs aplenty have been written about this heartache time.

    This is not just the prerogative of young love - it just begins there. As any love union continues through the years, there will still be heartaches. They will come through breakdowns of communication; loss of trust; strong disagreements; day to day tensions - these are the types of trials and the pains, of which I am describing. It is at these times that, for all lovers, our hearts ache, and inside we cry out for that wonderful rosy love to be restored, but often we find it so very hard to find the words or the actions to fully express our desires. So our hearts ache. We cry, get angry, withdraw, feel rejected, and until we both sit down and honestly share that our love is the most important thing, not the issue, that we begin to communicate and reach a positive resolution, where love is not only restored, but enhanced, for we have learnt more about self-giving in the process, and more about the importance of our joint love over and above our personal opinions. So along with the delights and the ecstacies, the joys and the fulfilled plans, these thorny paths combine to create a union which is true love - one which will last a lifetime. In human love, this is not always possible, but so many couples give up so easily! With God's love it is always possible!

    This paradox of love - the beauty and the pain, the joys and the struggles, reminds me of the paradox we see in the cross of Jesus Christ. In the Cross we see sorrow and love flow, we see hate dealt squarely with forgiveness, we watch rejection handled with quiet dignity; we watch insults handled without retaliation. We see the total opposite of what humanly we would want to do and react in that situation, and are compelled to face a completely new way of coping with life and its hurts.For each one of us to do what Jesus did, and react as He did, we all know that our whole personalities would have to be totally transformed, for that would not be our way!

    To be really honest, we must all acknowledge how different our ways are to God's ways, and how totally different we are. Because only God is Divine, and we are human. This is the paradox that only the Cross of Jesus Christ can solve.To believe that growing in love with Jesus Christ will always be easy, and that the closer we are to Our Lord the more clearly we will see the way ahead is to deny the reality of the sufferings of people like Jeremiah, Job, Mary, and so many of the martrys of the Church right up till the present day. Jesus showed us this so absolutely when He was crucified. God loved Jesus, his own Son, yet allowed Him to suffer the agony of the death on the Cross.

    So when the going gets tough, I do not doubt that God loves me, I KNOW that He does. I do not stop loving Him, either, for I have learnt, as in true love in a long marriage, that the hard tough parts make the sweet parts even more precious, and all mixed together make a wonderful 'vintage' love which will last.What I do know is that this is a time for more yearning for God, more willingness to give up my way in order to have that love relationship back not just the way it was, but even richer. It is a time to wait and be listen and communicate with God, and hear what He would say to me.

    If you, in your journey with God at the moment, are groping about and not finding it easy to enjoy Jesus Christ, begin to pray that whatever it is, and whatever it takes, that God 's will would be done in your life. Continue to pray in this way, just as Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemane, and if you are truly willing to follow wherever He may lead you, and do whatever He may show you, then the Father will lead you through the thicket and the thorns, to a new place of loving Him in a new way.

    Along the way some more of You will have gone, and some more of Him will be found within you. This is the journey of Self-emptying - the journey of the Cross. You will have a fuller love for Jesus Christ each time you process through this stage, but I believe it to be a life-long journey, visited and revisited. The more willing we are to pray like Jesus, and do the will of God the Father whatever the cost, the more like Jesus Christ we shall become.

    © 2005 Christine M. Jones

    Droplets from Life
    I would love to hear your responses, comments or input in any way. Please contact me at: christinesdroplets@yahoo.com.au

    Christine Jones is married to David. She has two adult children and precious grandchildren. She has worked for many years as a school teacher/librarian, and written children's material for several years in her 'spare time'. She loves nature, music and the theatre.

    John Mark Ministries