Wednesday, 9 February 2005

February Blog

Over recent months Father has been drawing me more and more into the understanding of the absolute centrality of love as the living heart of the whole life of the believer. Paul's prayer in Ephesians 3:14-20 has been almost constantly in my thoughts. Although I have read it perhaps hundreds of times before I still find in it unplumbed depths and the yearning is stirred for a yet deeper experience of all that the prayer reveals. Now an old man myself, I think I am beginning to understand why the aged apostle John made the major theme of his first epistle that of love especially in chapter 4:7-21

Primarily and before all else, there is God's love for us. We can assent so readily in our minds to that and even teach about it to others, but away beyond that mental assent is an overwhelming subjective experience of His love being poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. One such experience was mine on the unforgettable night in a farm kitchen up in the north of New Zealand , when I came to know as never before that Father truly loves me. It was overwhelming. It was beyond my understanding. How could He love me like that? Now, some 30 years later, I find myself asking to go still deeper.

In the prayer Paul asks Father that He may “ grant ” his prayer for the Ephesian believers. This knowing of Father's love is His gift to us imparted by the Holy Spirit. We cannot work up that experience, but it seems to come in times when we are seeking God with the utmost earnestness, when we cry with the psalmist , “My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh faints for Thee.” (Ps.63:1)

Paul knows that, once the believer has experienced such an immersion in Father's love, that man's or woman's life will be for ever changed. The life will now be, as Paul says, “Rooted and grounded in love”. Weymouth 's translation here is, “Having you roots deep and your foundations strong in love.” Such a person will be caught up in the fellowship of those who are growing in the comprehension of the immeasurable dimensions of the love of Christ and the goal is to “be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Just over a week ago our dearest friend and fellow-believer here in our retirement village went home to the Lord . Although she was firmly wedded to the institutional church to which she belonged, and thus walked a different path from us, she immediately embraced us in love, when we came here three years ago. Over these years we have shared very special times of precious fellowship. Always what shone and radiated from her was love.

Many others, believers and unbelievers alike, had their lives warmed and illuminated by that love in which she was rooted and grounded, and at her funeral that was the theme both from family and friends who spoke of her. What a testimony! A life lived in the fullness of God. Paul's prayer for the Ephesians had been fulfilled in her. She leaves behind a fragrance of the love of Christ.

“So faith, hope, love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love.