His Love For Us

Though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.

— C.S. Lewis

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The Love that Made the Worlds

You asked for a loving God: you have one…not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, nor the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist’s love for his work and despotic as a man’s love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father’s love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between sexes.

— C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Perfect in Love

“God and Jesus and all of us that love Him, if indeed we love Him, may be made perfect in one; that is, there shall be no difference between God and us . . . This is not Theology, it is life, it is a thing that is essential to our very existence; you, not seeing it, may reject is as Theology, and dispute it. I do not care to prove it to anybody that cannot see it, it could not be proved . . .We cannot reach the Divine idea . . until we fall in with God’s plan . . . by becoming such as He in our love towards God, and our love towards our neighbour.”

Faith in love

For Sunday, from an account of George MacDonald preaching, reprinted in ‘Wingfold’ Spring 2017:

“Faith in God, he is careful to explain, is not faith in opinions about God. It is faith in God’s love; while the doing of what we believe to be right is the chief if not the only means of finding out–of attaining to a belief in this love.”

More Than Kindness

“There is kindness in Love: but Love and kindness are not coterminous, and when kindness … is separated from the other elements of Love, it involves a certain fundamental indifference to its object, and even something like contempt of it. Kindness consents very readily to the removal of its object—we have all met people whose kindness to animals is constantly leading them to kill animals lest they should suffer. Kindness, merely as such, cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering. As Scripture points out, it is bastards who are spoiled: the legitimate sons, who are to carry on the family tradition, are punished [Hebrews 12:8]. It is for people whom we care nothing about that we demand happiness on any terms: with our friends, our lovers, our children, we are exacting and would rather see them suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes. If God is Love, He is, by definition, something more than mere kindness. And it appears, from all the records, that though He has often rebuked us and condemned us, He has never regarded us with contempt. He has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense.”

(C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain)

The Hound of Heaven

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways

   Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears

I hid from Him, and under running laughter.

            Up vistaed hopes I sped;

            And shot, precipitated,

Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,

From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.

           But with unhurrying chase,

           And unperturbéd pace,

       Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,

           They beat—and a Voice beat

           More instant than the Feet—

       “All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.”
   I pleaded, outlaw-wise,

By many a hearted casement, curtained red,

    Trellised with intertwining charities;

(For, though I knew His love Who followèd,

            Yet was I sore adread

Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside.)

But, if one little casement parted wide,

    The gust of His approach would clash it to:

    Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue.

Across the margent of the world I fled,

    And troubled the gold gateways of the stars,

    Smiting for shelter on their clangèd bars:

            Fretted to dulcet jars

And silvern chatter the pale ports o’ the moon.

I said to Dawn: Be sudden—to Eve: Be soon;

    With thy young skiey blossoms heap me over

            From this tremendous Lover—

Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see!

   I tempted all His servitors, but to find

My own betrayal in their constancy,

In faith to Him their fickleness to me,

    Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.

To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;

    Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.

          But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,

        The long savannahs of the blue;

            Or whether, Thunder-driven,

          They clanged his chariot ’thwart a heaven,

Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o’ their feet:—

    Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.

            Still with unhurrying chase,

            And unperturbéd pace,

        Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,

            Came on the following Feet,

            And a Voice above their beat—

        “Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.”
I sought no more that after which I strayed

            In face of man or maid;

But still within the little children’s eyes

            Seems something, something that replies,

They at least are for me, surely for me!

I turned me to them very wistfully;

But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair

            With dawning answers there,

Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.

“Come then, ye other children, Nature’s—share

With me” (said I) “your delicate fellowship;

            Let me greet you lip to lip,

            Let me twine you with caresses,

                Wantoning

            With our Lady-Mother’s vagrant tresses,

                Banqueting

            With her in her wind-walled palace,

            Underneath her azured dais,

            Quaffing, as your taintless way is,

                From a chalice

Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring.”

                So it was done:

I in their delicate fellowship was one—

Drew the bolt of Nature’s secrecies.

            I knew all the swift importings

            On the wilful face of skies;

            I knew how the clouds arise

            Spuméd of the wild sea-snortings;

                All that’s born or dies

            Rose and drooped with; made them shapers

Of mine own moods, or wailful or divine;

            With them joyed and was bereaven.

            I was heavy with the even,

            When she lit her glimmering tapers

            Round the day’s dead sanctities.

            I laughed in the morning’s eyes.

I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,

            Heaven and I wept together,

And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine;

Against the red throb of its sunset-heart

            I laid my own to beat,

            And share commingling heat;

But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart.

In vain my tears were wet on Heaven’s grey cheek.

For ah! we know not what each other says,

            These things and I; in sound I speak—

Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.

Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth;

            Let her, if she would owe me,

Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me

            The breasts o’ her tenderness:

Never did any milk of hers once bless

                My thirsting mouth.

                Nigh and nigh draws the chase,

                With unperturbèd pace,

            Deliberate speed, majestic instancy;

                And past those noised Feet

                A voice comes yet more fleet—

            “Lo! naught contents thee, who content’st not Me.”
Naked I wait Thy love’s uplifted stroke!

My harness piece by piece Thou hast hewn from me,

                And smitten me to my knee;

            I am defenceless utterly.

            I slept, methinks, and woke,

And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.

In the rash lustihead of my young powers,

            I shook the pillaring hours

And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears,

I stand amid the dust o’ the mounded years—

My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.

My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,

Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.

            Yea, faileth now even dream

The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist.

Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist

I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,

Are yielding; cords of all too weak account

For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed.

            Ah! is Thy love indeed

A weed, albeit an amaranthine weed,

Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?

            Ah! must—

            Designer infinite!—

Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou can’st limn with it?

My freshness spent its wavering shower i’ the dust;

And now my heart is as a broken fount,

Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever

            From the dank thoughts that shiver

Upon the sighful branches of my mind.

            Such is; what is to be?

The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind?

I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds;

Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds

From the hid battlements of Eternity;

Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then

Round the half-glimpséd turrets slowly wash again.

            But not ere him who summoneth

            I first have seen, enwound

With glooming robes purpureal, cypress-crowned;

His name I know, and what his trumpet saith.

Whether man’s heart or life it be which yields

            Thee harvest, must Thy harvest-fields

            Be dunged with rotten death?
                Now of that long pursuit

                Comes on at hand the bruit;

            That Voice is round me like a bursting sea:

               “And is thy earth so marred,

                Shattered in shard on shard?

            Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!

            Strange, piteous, futile thing!

Wherefore should any set thee love apart?

Seeing none but I makes much of naught” (He said),

“And human love needs human meriting:

            How hast thou merited—

Of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot?

            Alack, thou knowest not

How little worthy of any love thou art!

Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,

            Save Me, save only Me?

All which I took from thee I did but take,

            Not for thy harms,

But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.

            All which thy child’s mistake

Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:

            Rise, clasp My hand, and come!”

    Halts by me that footfall:

    Is my gloom, after all,

Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?

    “Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,

    I am He Whom thou seekest!

Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.”
Francis Thompson (1859-1907)