I feel like I veered off the last two emails. Let’s focus on Love today.
First and foremost, I want to summarize what I was trying to state in those last emails. Quite simply it means “Jesus Loves You Already.” When you absorb the fact that you are loved, it’s just natural to love that person back. Especially when you were a brat that rebelled at every possible moment, and yet He loved you then. He’s seen you in your best and your worst. He knows your weaknesses and your backstory. He has heard what others think of you and the mean backbiters at school. He sees you just the way you are. Do you know what He says? “I love you. You don’t deserve my love, but I love you anyway.”
Here is a short story I wrote to try and explain to myself how I was before I was saved. I wasn’t a prostitute like Mary, but most everything symbolizes my own relationship with the world.
“Come now! Hurry, or we’ll miss it! Slowpoke! We already missed the trial because of you!” Mary jerked angrily at her younger brothers hand as they wove in and out of the streets, trying to catch up with the crowd.
“I’m tired Mary!” the little boy cried. Mud streaked his arms and face where he had fallen earlier. “And my head hurt and I’m hungry!”
“Be a man, don’t whine you baby. You can have a fig when we got there, now hurry! I don’t want to miss it!”
The little boy trotted as fast as he could. His legs were short and he had to make quick steps to keep up with his sister. “Where were you last night?” He asked, thinking to change the subject. “Did you tell mama?”
Mary’s cheeks burned at the question. Of course mama didn’t know. Oh how much trouble would she be in if she had! “Marcus! Does she know I wasn’t home?”
Wide eyes looked up at her, “You didn’t tell her?”
“No.” A fierce look rose to her eyes as she stopped her hurried trek and lifted his chin to look at her. “I didn’t, and you won’t tell her either. If she finds out you’ll live to regret it. Understood?”
The little boy nodded fearfully, and with one more dark look, Mary resumed their race. Before too long they heard a loud commotion up ahead. “Hurry now, we’re almost there.”
Mary knew the scene would be too awful for her brother to watch, and searched for a place to leave him out of sight.
“Here Marcus. Sit here on the road. Do not look for me, and do not go anywhere alone or with anyone else for that matter. Here is a fig. Stay here and do not move until I come back.”
The little boy watched his sister frightened, as she ran down the road and around the corner. The yelling and and crying was loud even at the place where he sat, and he gobbled the figs with haste. He wasn’t going anywhere closer to that place, he could swear that.
Mary turned the corner the long road stretched before her. It was lined with hundreds of people. Milling, screaming, and raging people. This was Mary’s second home. Oh how she loved to hurl insults at those criminals and their no-good lives. It was the only place she could use the words her mother would faint from. And it fed her soul.
Today’s criminal was an interesting case. The news had spread like wildfire. The man said he was the son of god. Well whichever god it was sure had an interesting way of caring for his son. Frankly Mary didn’t even believe in any gods, not to mention son’s of those gods. And he claimed to be the king of the Jews.
Mary spat at that thought. Jews. The world would be a better place if all of those hypocrites were dead. Sure she was half Jew somewhere along the line, but that didn’t matter.
“GET OUT OF THE WAY! KEEP OFF THE ROAD, WE NEED ROOM TO GET THROUGH YOU DOGS!” The Roman soldiers roared, shoving aside anyone that got in the way.
Mary wiggled her way in as close to the road as she could. The procession was still heading their way. She had time.
And evil smile split her face as she rubbed the three large stones in her hand. Three criminals, three stones, three throws. She couldn’t wait.
She rubbed her temple.
Last night she had escaped their small home late in the night, long after mama and Pap fell asleep. She didn’t need training to spin yarn or make a garden. She wanted a good time. She had joined a few of her nighttime friends on the way to the garden.
They were caught off guard and had to hid from a HUGE group of soldiers. Sarah was sure that they were not there for them, and she was right. They had come to take a man. Of course looking at them all armed and cautious, Mary was sure he was either possessed or a killer, but the man they took looked like any other person. In fact he hadn’t even run or fought back.
After the soldiers left Sarah, Mary and the others gathered next to one of the walls.
Her head ached from the drink that one of the men had brought. She had made it home before her parents woke, and complained of a headache, and gotten out of going to the market. That left her with the task she hated just a little less, taking care of Marcus. Plus she wanted to see the criminals! So she had dragged him out here with her.
There he was! The first of the three walked past, carrying the cross beam of the Cross. It was heavy and dug into his shoulders.
With a quick flick of her hand, Mary’s stone hit its mark and the man flinched but kept going, afraid of the angry soldier’s whip. Mary spat and yelled along with everyone else. Her dress was getting torn and dirty from being jostled, but she would just burn it when she got home.
Now she was excited. Her blood was pumping and her eyes darted from place to place. She couldn’t wait for the next.
But when she saw him her heart fell. What a disappointment. He was covered in blood. His breath came in gasps. It was highly unlikely her stone would make any impact. But then confusion baffled her. They had scourged him and were now going to execute him? That was an unusual punishment. She wondered what he had done to deserve that.
The thorns on his head pierced his scalp and blood ran freely down his bruised face. He stumbled and fell. The cross beam was too heavy.
The soldiers ordered people around to keep the procession moving.
Mary lowered her stone and felt her throat close up. Something was very wrong. Her chest felt heavy, and she could hardly stand.
Mary blinked to clear her dizzy head and looked at the man.
This was not just any man. He lifted his heavy head and before she could turn away his eyes met her’s.
A gasp escaped her as she couldn’t turn away. He was fully sane and aware of the surroundings. He wasn’t crazy, and he wasn’t possessed. The weight that dragged her to her knees threatened to kill her with guilt.
“I love you.”
She heard it. Among the shouting and crying and spitting, she heard it in her heart. And it tore her open.
A sharp kick got Him back to His feet and they began to move along again.
And Mary was desperate. “You can’t love me!” She screamed, eyes wide in terror. That man was the Son of God. How could they treat Him this way. Why isn’t God striking them all dead? And why is she still alive? The things she’d thought and said, she couldn’t just stand there, that was crazy, how could she be in the presence of God and not dead?
“You can’t love me! I’m too bad! You should kill me! I deserve to die!” Mary shouted wildly until her throat was sore. She couldn’t watch the procession, and now stumbled through the crowd too dizzy to make any real progress.
Finally she fell down and buried her drenched face in her muddy hand. “God! God of Whoever You are! I don’t know what..” Sobs muffled her speech and nothing she said made sense to the passers by. “I know You are real, and really are God. I don’t know which one You are or what happened, but that man was from You.”
“Almah, are you alright?” Someone placed a hand on her shoulder.
“No! I’m not alright!” Mary shook the hand off and ran back to where Marcus was.
He was scared to see Mary so distraught. She was a hard girl and never cried at home, but she was desperate now.
“Go home Marcus,” Mary sobbed, slowing her sprint for only a moment. “I’ll meet you there later.”
“Where are you going? Mary! Wait!”
But Mary didn’t wait. She had to get away from that road, from that man, from what he had said to her.
No one ever truly loved her. She was a rebel, doing only what she had to, but never happily. She never smiled, and never cried. She never showed love. She was lazy. No one ever loved her.
Oh sure. Some of the boy claimed too, when she met them in the night. But the guilt of keeping it secret. The guilt and fear that it would spill and she’d be stoned. The guilt that she was smearing her family name in the mud and filth. It all was too much. She wanted release. She wanted relief. She wished for something to pull her out.
Some days she swore never to do it again. She would do her chores without being asked, although never anything more. She would wait for her mother to finish her boring lectures on gardens, on spinning, on raising a family, and then do what she thought was wanted of her. But that love was never enough, because she was never enough, and she was always empty.
But Him. He had spoken of true love. Love that lasted, love that gave itself up. Love that cared for more than the temporary. Love that promised to take care of her if she would let him. And He called for more than just her heart. He asked for her soul.
Oh how she wanted that peace! That honest care and love. That selflessness that never surfaced with the others. Everyone wanted her to do something. But they never gave her what she needed.
Blinded by her hot tears, terror, and confusion Mary still ran. She didn’t know where to run, or even that she was still running. Her heart uttered cry after cry, begging for release from her guilt. Begging for something. Begging even for death.
Gasping for breath, she had to stop. Swiping at her cheeks, she glanced around through the blur, trying to understand where she had come to.
Horror gripped her as she realized that she had come to the temple. The Jew’s Temple. Was that man this God’s son?
She felt pulled to go inside, pulled to beg for forgiveness.
Guilt weighed her down and she felt filthier than she had ever been before. Every sin, every lie, every night, every curse that she had uttered, every hateful thought she dwelt on, everything dumped itself on her.
She couldn’t even raise her head.
Quietly she knelt before the gate of the courtyard. She spread her arms and hung her head. “God. I am dirty. I am unworthy. I don’t understand. I don’t think I ever will. I am evil and full of guilt.” She paused as her throat closed up again, and the tears made tracks down her face and dripped onto her soiled skirt.
“I want to be loved. I so want to be loved. But I am unloveable. You said that you love me. How? Why? It’s not possible.
“Be merciful on me, sinner that I am.” She finally whispers.
And then she knew; He loved her.
That’s that. Does it make you feel heavy? Do you understand it? We as humans are defined right there. You can also read Romans 1:18-32 to understand exactly what we are.
But we are loved. LOVED. Put aside all the sins. The guilt, the thoughts, the filth. It’s been washed in Jesus’ blood. We are clean. He chose to clean us. And then He chose to love us.
Why? Why does He love us? We don’t deserve it. We deserve death. Why does the God of the Universe, and the most best thing ever and always, and the Creator of all love US?
Because of He is Good, and He is Love.
Dear Jesus, Lord of all.
Why do You love us? I’m still confused. And yet I don’t really need to know. I don’t really need an answer. All I know is that you do love us. You love me. Thank you for that love. THANK YOU JESUS!
Help me to return that love. Help me to love you. Help me to love others through you. And help me to grow closer and closer to you. Help me to find my satisfaction and love in you.
In your wonderful and priceless name,
Your next email will be delivered on Friday.