1 John 4:19 (NIV)
We love because he first loved us.
We have two pets, Lucy and Bean (the cat I rarely reference) both of which we adopted from the pound (aka the animal shelter, see also the Island of Misfit Toys). Before them we had Molly, the greatest dog in the history of dog history. Molly was a goldendoodle—a so-called designer dog—a carefully genetically engineered blend of a large golden retriever and a small poodle (don’t ask how). I think of Molly as a pre-fallen creature from the garden of Eden, the kind of dog God would be if God were a dog.
Lucy and Bean are a different story. They represent to me post–garden of Eden fallen creatures. They came into the world through chaotic collisions of suspect species and then found themselves crushed and vilified as victims of life’s vicissitudes (I know . . . self indulgent . . . sorry, I couldn’t resist—I almost never get a chance to alliterate v’s).
Please humor my analogy as it is going somewhere significant. If Molly represents Jesus in this metaphor, Lucy and Bean represent us fallen sinners being made saints. It’s interesting how pets from the pound are referred to as “rescue animals.” They aren’t rescued by the shelter though. Rather they are impounded, imprisoned, and scheduled for execution. They are rescued by people who are on a mission to save dogs or who otherwise can no longer afford designer dogs. Get this—we adopt them. We give them new names. No matter how young or old they may be, it’s like they are reborn. We bring them into our families where we love them back to life. We love them with agape love. We don’t love them in spite of who they are. We love them precisely because of who they are and we see past their imperfections and into their possibilities. And we love them so much that in time they become more than they were. Much to our great joy, they come to love us; often with a wildly abandoned kind of love. We become deeply and profoundly attached.
All of this has reminded me of a translation of a part of Psalm 18 I saw many years ago and never forgot. It comes from The Message. It gets at the nature of what happens when the God who created our inmost being reattaches all the broken pieces back together and to himself.
God made my life complete
when I placed all the pieces before him.
I feel put back together,
and I’m watching my step.
God rewrote the text of my life
when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.
And this brings me back to Lucy and Bean, our two pound pets—our rescue animals. All of my children are artists, and I have my former wife to thank for such giftedness in their lives. My two daughters created two stunning mosaics of our two pets. And that about sums up the whole point here doesn’t it? A mosaic is a form of art whereby a lot of shattered pieces of broken and discarded ceramic pottery are put back together into a piece of artwork that depicts the image of something else entirely different from the shattered pieces. Lucy and Bean, refashioned into resplendent mosaics from refuse pottery, are a glorious sight. I’ll post them on our Facebook Page and Wake-Up Call Instagram today for your edification and God’s glory.
This is the story of our inmost being and the image of God stamped there. I think of the image of God in its original form as like a piece of luminous, colorfully refractive, translucent glass.1 To see through the glass in its original state is to look on the radiant splendor of the presence of the fullness of God. With the fall from this state of grace, this glass was shattered into a million pieces of dislocated shards of glass. When we place these broken pieces before the Lord, he begins to put them back together again, not in the perfection of what once was but in the redeemed beauty of what is becoming. The pieces are reattached by the mortar of the Spirit of God into the image of Jesus Christ and refashioned in this gallery of our inmost being.
Wake up, sleeper! This is the stuff of salvation. Far from a transaction gaining one admission into heaven, this is the gateway into the transformational kingdom of Jesus Christ.
Father God, thank you for seeing us in our low estate. Thank you for rescuing us from the pound where we were destined to die. Thank you for the glorious and gracious way you sent your son to seek us out and save us. Thank you for the way you loved us when we were not even lovable; for seeing yourself in us when we couldn’t yet even imagine it. Thank you for the way you gave us a new name, a new heart, a new mind, a new spirit, even your Holy Spirit, a new song. And thank you for putting this love in us to love you back and to love ourselves and to love others in this very same way. We are overwhelmed with gratitude, Lord Jesus. Come Holy Spirit and help us bring all the pieces of ourselves before you that you might keep putting us back together, reattaching all the pieces, that we might become who you imagined us to be in the first place. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen.
How are you bringing all the pieces of your life, notably your inmost being, before God? How is he putting them back together again? Can you see yourself through the lens of a rescue pet. How do you relate to the analogy and further flesh it out?
P.S. We are Singing Hymns Now on the Wake-Up Call Recording
And its not nostalgia. The Bible instructs us to sing hymns, a genre of music all but lost to recent generations of worshipers. “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts” Colossians 3:16. I love modern worship songs, but I long for the great hymns of the ages. On most mornings we are singing from our newly released Seedbed Hymnal. Today we are singing #343, “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.”
For the Awakening,
NOTES FOR FURTHER REFLECTION
- The glass I reference here I see as the “glass” referenced in texts like 1 Corinthians 13. Here it is from the King Jimmy: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” We see darkly because the glass has been shattered, but as it is being put back together our knowing of God grows to resemble God’s knowing of us. This is the attachment at the place of the inmost being, which becomes attachment to ourselves and to others. It is no accident that this verse comes from the greatest exposition and explication of agape love ever inspired and written down on a scroll.