This morning I had a date at Starbucks with two of my favorite friends: Venti-black-tea-unsweetened-with-extra-ice, and my laptop, which is orange. (Thank you, Dell, for knowing I need a cute color or I won’t care about that boring machine which is a nondescript shade of grey.) There are never any tables free at this time of day, at this Starbucks, but today there was one. A nice and spacious one. Then I discovered they could toast the bagel. And then I found a $15 Starbucks gift card in my purse. So many good things.
I also brought Keep a Quiet Heart, by Elizabeth Elliot, who is refreshingly no-nonsense about her faith in God. I had to share this excerpt with you, which she references in a chapter called “God’s Sheep Dogs.” Apparently she too was moved by this passage, originally written by George MacDonald. Don’t read it casually. It is not casual. It is speaking of the deepest desire of God for us, the very marrow of love. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that God does not desire to control us or restrict us. He desires to dwell with us. And teaching us to do so often requires that our loving Shepherd use a strong hand.
“Man has a claim on God, a divine claim for any pain, want, disappointment, or misery that will help to make him what he ought to be. He has a claim to be punished, and to be spared not one pang that may urge him toward repentance; yea, he has a claim to be compelled to repent; to be hedged in on every side, to have one after another of the strong, sharp-toothed sheep-dogs of the Great Shepherd sent after him, to thwart him in any desire, foil him in any plan, frustrate him of any hope, until he comes to see at length that nothing will ease his pain, nothing make life a thing worth having, but the presence of the living God within him; that nothing is good but the will of God; nothing noble enough for the desire of the heart of man but oneness with the eternal. For this God must make him yield his very being that He himself may enter in and dwell with him.”
Sometimes we feel the nipping at our heels. Sometimes the teeth are sharp, and it hurts. The five words, "...God must make him yield...," is the most dramatic part of the passage, to me. Sheep are kind of rebellious, always wanting to go their own way, or just plain wandering off.
My feelings after reading this passage are these: there is no room for my complaining about my discomfort. I will wait. I will trust. I will not just believe in God. I will believe God. More of You, Lord. Less of me. Send the dogs. Hem us in. Lead us to You.
Takes my breath…and my words…away.