When I first heard the song "He Loves Us" (the David Crowder version), I immediately loved it. I couldn't put my finger on it right then, but there was something in that song that spoke deeply to me beyond the simple chorus of "He loves us, oh how He loves us". I've listened to it many times since then, and it's taken me a few weeks - but this week I've finally landed on what I love so much about that song. Here is the first verse, then I'll tell you what I see in it.
He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.
It starts out "He is jealous for me". The first of the 10 Commandments says that we are to worship no other gods but Him. "You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God" (Ex. 20:5a) As I began examining my life, I started to really see the meaning in this simple phrase "He is jealous for me", especially when connected to that 1st commandment. God is a jealous God. He wants to be first in our lives...and I have to confess, He has not been first in mine.
Looking ahead to 2010, I had been filled with disappointment, sorrow, and loss. One obvious loss in my life will be Isaac. And, there are other things that I will lose this year as well. One is my parents, who are a huge part of my life. They are retiring in June, selling their house, and driving off in an RV (yes, you read that correctly). I will miss having them just a short drive away, spending Saturdays shopping with my mom, calling on my dad when I have car trouble, and just generally knowing they are nearby. Another loss in my life will be the team I teach with. In just the short few months I have been on team with them, I have come to rely heavily on them for a daily dose of humor, support, professional advice, encouragement, and lots of coffee. Next year, when the school year starts, I will be on a different team with mostly different people. I will miss my new friends on the Wildcat team, not just because I love teaching alongside them, but because they are incredible people who have become close friends of mine very quickly, and have given me immeasurable help and support during this difficult time.
I can't tell you the number of tears I have cried over these losses...the number of times I have asked God why...and the number of times I have dwelled on the dread I was feeling when I looked ahead into the future. All I could see was this cloud of loneliness surrounding me - my husband, my parents, and my school friends would all be, in some way, gone. But, as I dwelled on the words "He is jealous for me", God began to change my thinking. God began to tap me on the shoulder and make me realize that maybe He is allowing all of these things to be stripped away because He is jealous for me...He wants to be first in my life, and I have put Isaac, my friends, my parents, and many other things before Him.
So, I continued looking at the song and the phrase "Loves like a hurricane, I am tree. Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy" - and realized that these losses are my hurricane. Hurricanes are huge and destructive. They blow such strong winds that they often leave nothing but smashed and broken pieces behind. God is loving me this way - He is loving me with such power and strength, that like a tree in a hurricane, I have no choice but to bend beneath His mercy. He is loving me in a dramatic and powerful way, that feels painful to me sometimes, but it is what I need to draw nearer to Him.
This thought process was spurred on when I read a blog that gave me the most perfect illustration of God in my situation. It describes a parent who lays their child down for a nap because they know the child needs sleep, but the child doesn't want to nap and thus stands in the crib and cries. The parent wants to rush to the child and pull them out of the crib and stop their tears, but they know the child needs this sleep - so they stand outside the child's room on the other side of the closed door just waiting until the child settles down. Isn't that beautiful illustration of God and us? I am that child, in the crib crying...and God didn't just put me there and walk away...He, like that parent, is standing on the other side of the door, listening to me, knowing it hurts me and wanting to pull me out of this and stop my tears, but also knowing this is what's best for me.
"And I realize just how beautiful You are and how great Your affection is for me" - well, that is where I am right now. I am realizing just how beautiful God is, but more importantly - how much He loves me. That even without my husband, with my parents far away, and on a new teaching team - God remains the same.
"He loves us, oh how He loves us."