Does Unconditional Love even exist in this Universe?

Unconditional love; we all somehow feel we deserve it. Isn’t that why someone’s rejection of us feels so UNFAIR? Somewhere deep in our being we know the only decent and right thing in this universe is the existence of unconditional love, and it should be coming our way.

Not that you would demand it. You learnt long ago that unconditional love can never be DEMANDED, because as one who also believes in giving unconditional love, to demand is one step away from a bad attitude, which quickly turns into a torrent of bitter thoughts and hey presto, you are not in the love zone any more. 

It’s hard to love unconditionally, mainly because the ball is always in your court. To receive love, we must first give love. Remember what Jesus taught us. “Give and it will be given to you, pressed down, shaken together, running over”…he urged us to forgive and promised if we could forgive, then God could too…and to top it off, a spectacular bargain; “in the measure you forgive others, God will forgive you.” Was there ever a better incentive to be bountifully forgiving? Love, demonstrated by the fruit of forgiveness and our determination to love others, faults and all is our most holy duty as Christians. The onus is always FIRST on US to give, to love and to forgive. We never have to wait for any bodies permission to do that. It is the most productive and powerful act we can ever do in this life, and every one of us has been called by God to be a proactive GIVER, NOW. Love UNCONDITIONALLY if you want to be loved that way back.

I have put in a big effort to do this in my life, and I have certainly known what it is to be loved and cherished, but I’ve also experienced the pain when people withdraw their love and in all honesty, right now, I really do wonder if unconditional love even exists at all. Don’t we all have our love limits? Doesn’t even God call it quits on some? Isnt that what hell is about? Or perhaps there’s more to this than at first glance? The failure of both myself and others to consistently and fully love sinful flesh should not lead me to doubt my God, who has to this day never left me or forsaken me and promises to be with me even if I make my bed in hell. 

I feel I am unconditionally loved by God. That makes me brave and bold. I can ask big questions. I can squander my inheritance. I can learn my lessons, repent and return and there’s nothing held over me. No strings, no hoops to leap through. My stupidity is not thrown in my face; rather the father embraces me, dresses me in his finest garments and prepares a feast before me in the presence of my enemies. That’s the kind of love God models to me and that’s the kind of love I expect to give to others. I have found however it  is rarely returned, and if people get even a whif of weakness they are more apt to act as seagulls, pecking and devouring. They certainly never forget what you’ve done and are loathe to restore you to fellowship. I have found the most diligent in religion most likely to bite hardest. The older brother type. The one who stayed home and never partied and who gets upset when I and the father do.

What do you think? Do you experience unconditional love or do you think Gods love has conditions? I define unconditional love as a love that is willing to forgive and withstand hating /dishonouring me when I am overtaken in any misbehaviour. This kindness is unexpectedly refreshing and disarming and wins me over, convincing me that His ways are indeed best.

The Dancing Shulamite

  
I was reading recently a Kabbalist observation of Miriums dance, that it was a prophetic dance of victory that saw a time far off, today even, when women would contribute their perspective on spiritual life. Theirs was church in the round, where all were equal; all knew the Lord and heard his voice for themselves. A day when all Gods people would know him from the greatest to the least. All would shine and participate. There would be no orphans or forgotten ones.

Today I was studying Song of Songs. 6:13 describes her beloveds adoration as she gracefully dances among the maidens. In the verses that follow, he notices the curved of her thigh, the beauty of her navel and her sandalled feet; her breasts, her graceful neck, her eyes shining like fish ponds, her towering nose, her hair…hot indeed are his glances!

So moved is he that he resolves to have her, take hold of her and bury his face in her bosom, fragrant with grapes and apples. He described the roof of her mouth being like the best wine, awaking him from slumber to life! 

He immediately calls her away to a country escape where he will give her his loves. She is very aware of the lure she possesses confident of all manner of pleasant “fruits” she has hidden for him alone.

What a sexy way to communicate and symbolize just how ravishing a Spirit led dancer can be to our heavenly beloved. I hope you will join me in the dance!

The Riddle of the Fox & the Grapes, Lost Love and the Power of Forgiveness

I lost a friend today. We had shared much, and genuinely loved one another. How many times have I lost a friend? Too many to count!
The temptation that always greets us, is to think differently about the person we once loved; to see them as sour grapes, defective, no longer worthy of us. They have offended our very deepest self! The have rejected us, or stood coldly by, or done something to offend us; whatever it is for you or me, inevitably we start to have bitter thoughts towards somebody who once made us feel wonderful.

This not helpful, nor is it accurate. 

The person you once loved is still the same person. If you are determined to love all men as Christ commands, and I say that again, determined…then forgiveness and grace, not bitterness has to be your only choice.

Jesus tells us to pray blessings upon our “enemies” and to do good to those who have hurt us. How much more should we then forgive and bless the ones we love? 

When we are hurting, it is so easy to fall into the trap of bitter thinking. The discipline of blessing and praying and speaking well of others is a powerful protection against the devastation that bitterness can bring into your life.

I’ll be working on it today and every day. I hope you do the same, because it is a great key to a happy life.

  

Song of Songs 1:9-17 The Fragrant Circle of Romantic Bliss

Previously, our insecure, shame filled girl was seeking to leave all that behind and come and find rest with her shepherd, and so she has. Did he chide her for her faults? No. Love covers a multitude of sins. The lover sees her through the eyes of love, and as they recline in green fields, sheltered from the heat of the day under a canopy of cedar.

V9 “You are as exciting, my darling, as a mare among Pharaoh’s stallions.”  
In truth, the NLT takes liberties with the original Hebrew, and the KJV is more accurate when it says, a “mare among Pharoahs chariots”. The Hebrew emphasis and meaning is not really as sexually inflamed as a mare amongst stallions suggests, but personally I love the sexual colour this translation brings. 

The excitement is visual. Pharoahs mare is all feathers and gold adornments. A man in love sees all this beauty which in truth may not be there through others eyes.

V 10-11 “How lovely are your cheeks; your earrings set them afire! How lovely is your neck, enhanced by a string of jewels. We will make for you earrings of gold and beads of silver.”

A man in love not only sees her beauty, but wants to beautify her further. 

V12 [Young Woman] “The king is lying on his couch, enchanted by the fragrance of my perfume.”

This is a really important revelation. The girl who previously was preoccupied with her flaws is beginning to comprehend her worth. In the loving presence of one who sees and communicates her loveliness, a realisation is dawning. Her essence is enchanting. Being loved releases the true fragrance of the soul.

V13-14 “My lover is like a sachet of myrrh lying between my breasts. He is like a bouquet of sweet henna blossoms from the vineyards of En-gedi.”

Here is the source of the fragrance, her love for the beloved, likened to a bundle of myrrh, a precious healing resin and sweet fragrant blossoms. All her thoughts of him are contained within her heart. They are thoughts of his healing sweetness and this overflows and becomes a tangible fragrance. 

2 Corinthians 2:15 (NLT) “Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.”

V15-17 “How beautiful you are, my darling, how beautiful! Your eyes are like doves. You are so handsome, my love, pleasing beyond words! The soft grass is our bed; fragrant cedar branches are the beams of our house, and pleasant smelling firs are the rafters.

Eros, or romantic love is divinely elevating to the soul. Each is enamoured by the others beauty and loveliness, and this inspires and releases the fragrance of the soul which in turn enchants the lovers further. It is good and right that lovers spend time enjoying and appreciating one another. The man in particular should naturally be inspired by the beauty of his lover and by communicating that, he not only builds his lovers self esteem, but also releases her fragrant heart of love for him.


The Eternal Lover

Eventually we realise that the longing within us for the lover of our dreams will never be fully realised. Each of us, if we are really honest, will admit we are unfulfilled in our relationship on some level. It may be just for moments here and there, but more commonly there are days, weeks and years when our lover shuts us out and avoids intimacy behind their busy responsibilities and any other number of often very valid excuses. People hide and disconnect. You do it, I do it. It’s all very understandable but lonely all the same. It does not take a lifetime to realise that intimacy is hard won and shifting.

So whether it is you who are avoiding intimacy or your partner, someone’s lonely. Loneliness is a big ache, and people resort to all manner of follies in an attempt to quench it’s gnawing bile. Alcohol, drugs, extra-marital encounters, model trains…None of which answers the need or makes peace with the loss we feel. 

How should we positively negotiate this dilemma? I have found consolation and strength by drawing to and comprehending, (perhaps only dimly), my Eternal Lover. I think we search for him in every relationship, then expect too much from people and find less than we need. 

It is said that our heavenly form is sexless, neither male nor female, not given in marriage. Sorry to break it to you, especially my Muslim brothers, but there’s no sex in heaven according to Jesus. In heaven, we will all be family, but more than that, we will be as true lovers, spiritually one and most intimate. No bible student can miss the multitude of references in the scriptures to God being our betrothed lover. Over and over God describes his feelings towards Israel as that of a wounded lover, rejected and betrayed. Everything started off all roses but Israel’s and the churches love grows cold. Many times God describes our unfaithfulness to be as an adulteress in our treatment of Him, our Eternal Lover. See the words of Hosea, Jeremiah, Ezekiel.

I believe in order to really discover God the Eternal Lover, one must finally, albeit reluctantly, come to identify the Eternal Whore within ourselves, guilty of base passions, foolish decisions and compromising graspings for provisions. Until we can stand before God and fully acknowledge this, we will never be able to grasp the fullness of His love. Remember His words to the prostitute who bathed His feet in tears, ” He who has been forgiven much loves much.” 

Few of us have ever experienced true forgiveness of this magnitude from an earthly lover, but it is always unendingly bestowed upon us by the Eternal Lover, the only one who fully and constantly loves us despite our whoredom. Some, who have learnt from Him, can forgive like Him, and there will be a day when we will all be fully accepted in the beloved AND by one another. Heaven will be that way and if fortunate, you may find glimpses of it here on earth.

Song of Songs, Chapter 1:5-8 Female Insecurity

This is a meditation on the Song of Songs, the greatest tale of erotic bliss and romantic love.

Female Insecurity ch 1:5-8

v5 “I am dark but beautiful, O women of Jerusalem— dark as the tents of Kedar, dark as the curtains of Solomon’s tents.”

The early blossomings of Eros make a woman more confident and aware of her allure. She sees that she belongs with this man. Our bride is ready for love, brown as a berry and feels beautiful, soon to adorn Solomon’s tent. She is really saying that she feels she belongs with him. She feels part of the furniture, and she is willing for her body to grace and beautify Solomon’s inner chamber, as do the dark curtains of his tent.

v6 “Don’t stare at me because I am dark— the sun has darkened my skin. My brothers were angry with me; they forced me to care for their vineyards, so I couldn’t care for myself—my own vineyard.”

Some women have great torment of mind over their appearance and all it’s flaws. We’ve all got a story. Our sister bride in the song hasn’t looked after herself. She has been manipulated by lazy males offloading their responsibilities onto her. The result? Burnt sun damaged skin? I don’t know, but somehow we sense she’s been ripped off.

v7 “Tell me, my love, where are you leading your flock today? Where will you rest your sheep at noon? For why should I wander like a prostitute among your friends and their flocks?”

Where did that come from? Why does this girl feel like a prostitute? Does she have no home or sense of place? She is full of insecurities and self image issues. The word here translated as prostitute by the NLT is in Hebrew, atah which means covered, entrapped as with a cloak. Lepers and prostitutes and those in mourning and in shame all come to mind. And such are we, however this girl wants to be somewhere else. She seeks to be free of the shame she feels amongst his companions (church folk?) She’s looking to find her love in a restful place, sheltered from the hot midday sun and friends and possessions can never take the place of Him.

v8 “If you don’t know, O most beautiful woman, follow the trail of my flock, and graze your young goats by the shepherds’ tents.”

Where to find him? Jesus and our earthly bridegroom can be found with Gods people and the trail of truth left to us from past ages.

So this is where our girl is at when she falls in love with Solomon. She’s got quite a past but is also on the right path for love.

Everest, lawlessness and the coldness of the Modern Heart

I have been thinking a lot about Everest lately, and its symbolism as the highest of loves. That got me looking at blogging sites for those who have an interest in climbing Everest.

It turns out the 2012 Everest climbing season had some colourful characters and inspiring stories that need to be told.

I was surprised to learn that 4 people died on the face of Everest that year. The ascent was limited to two brief windows of opportunity in mid and late May. Some seasoned Guides wisely pulled the plug on their clients very expensive dreams to make the summit, but of those remaining (200+), most took the first window, creating a traffic jam that caught some unprepared, running out of oxygen and energy, causing them to succumb to the seductive lure of a deathly, frozen sleep.  As four souls quietly perished, hundreds of other climbers pressed on, walking past the dying, unstoppable in their own ambitious goal to reach the summit. Only one, a young jewish boy, confident to become the youngest person ever to climb Everest, sacrificed his dream for his fellow man, a reformed New York street person, who originally had wanted to carry his bike to the top. Nadav Ben-Yehuda, only 300 meter away from the summit, abandoned his climb and carried Aydin Irmak back down to base camp.

IMG_0114.JPG
Read more about it here

Then I thought about it and I realised it’s true. Cold is the modern heart. Why? the answer is tied up in the Greek word anomia, meaning without God’s law, often translated “iniquity”, as it is in this verse in Matthew 24:12

and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many will grow cold.

The word translated “love” is the Greek word “agape”, the mature, sacrificial kind of love. The kind of love that puts others before ourselves. The kind of love that Nadav displayed when he abandoned his own dreams to save another.

There is another scripture, 1 John 3:4, which says

..sin is anomia (lawlessness)

When society is ignorant of, or consciously abandons God’s laws, the result is cold love. Coldness brings hurt. Hurt leads to bitter sin and hatred, hatred breeds coldness and around we go again, cycle upon cycle, generation upon generation, till we arrive at where we are today. We have generations of sin and hurt and bitter hatred and pride parenting us, teaching us, overseeing us, marrying us… and hurt people do not allow themselves to love.

So how can we unravel this? Is it even possible? Is loving another like climbing Everest? Will our human frailty leave us cold and abandoned by her dangerous tempests? Will anyone rescue us when our most valiant attempts have failed? All I know is Everest has been scaled, and once that happened it became possible, and that inspired others to put themselves to the test. If Jesus is our Hillary, the Holy Spirit is Tenzing our guide, inspiring us to press on towards the summit of highest love.

I suppose the ultimate point of life is what road will you choose?  Will you seek to overcome the ruts in your psyche and learn to love and then continue to love though the world grows cold and selfish? Will you adopt the laws of love shown by the teachings and example of Jesus as the one who perfectly fulfilled the law, though the powers that be considered him anomia (a law breaker). Will you forgive your enemies, pray for them and as a lamb led to the slaughter, silently bear their sin and murderous rage, blessing them while they seek to tear you apart? Will you accept the laws of love even the the whole world rejects them?
Hear Nadav speak.