As Spring comes on and Nature starts to unfold itself into fresh life, in even the tiniest of ways, we often ~ as our poets and lyricists attest to in droves ~ begin to think on Love. It’s a season given to Love as autumn is associated with decline or “going out in a blaze of glory”, as winter is associated starkly and bleakly with death, and as Summer is assigned the full vitality of the epitome of Life.
Regardless of the season of the year, my pastor in his sermons often speaks of “the wild, extravagant love of the Lord for us!”. I have to admit the first few times I heard him make reference to this my response was along the lines of, “yeah, uh-huh”. I heard the words and intellectually assented to the Biblical truth of this statement, then nodded in assent to the truth of it as he preached. Inside me, however, the Holy Spirit was gently making known the sense that I wasn’t “getting this”, really, and inwardly I nodded in assent to Him as well, aware that this was true in my heart, whatever my head thought it “knew”.
Whether it be due to a deep-rooted Puritan heritage, or to a willful national character, or even just the relentless would-be rule of our Self over all parts of our lives, we like and are addicted to the illusion of control ~ even in love, strange and odd as that sounds. So words and phrases like “wild” and “extravagant” do not leap to the forefront of our favor and are not generally found in our comfort zones when considering the love of God, except perhaps for a few of us who are wired for extremes. This also may strike us as odd (or maybe just me) since in our western society we see excess and extravagance all around us. In a strange dichotomy, our hearts long to be loved with “wild extravagance” and yet it is still not something we comfortably connect to or accept in association with Love ~ we still want even Love controlled and boxed in.
During a conversation with a sister in the Lord some time back, I started to have just the teensiest glimmer of what my pastor means in speaking of “the wild, extravagant love of the Lord for us!”. The Lord opened up perhaps just a sub-atomic particle’s worth of view for me in what His love for us is like, somewhat. The love of God is not well boxed-in, despite our desire to have things boxed-in and under control. It is, of course, far too vast for that. If that Love sent His only Son to die for us that we might be restored to Him and the depths of His heart for all time, it is not a force or power that will or can be contained in any carton or container of our making. It Will break out and overflow because it is boundless and timeless and is behind all parts of creation because We are Loved!
A few images that came to mind in that conversation with my sister in Christ were these:
I think “the wild, extravagant love of the Lord for us!” is reflected in that endless churning roar and splash and dash of ocean waves on the shore. I think that’s what captivates us about that scene ~ the sound and the power and variety of color, depending on the day and the weather conditions, and the constancy of the beauty and the very insistent presence of and in those waves, all of it calls to our hearts of the love of God for us, “the wild, extravagant love of the Lord for us!”
I think “the wild, extravagant love of the Lord for us!” is reflected to us in the impossibly hot convulsions of gases that make up the sun and stars. That roiling, restless power and passion ~ and here some of us with very prim upbringings are already starting to shrink back a bit, “she used that word “passion” in connection with the Lord God!”. Oh yes I did because He does Himself in His Word, the Bible. All that is contained in the images we have of our sun’s activity, and then multiplied to and by the almost endless and countless infinity of the stars in the heavens all speak to us, wordlessly, of “the wild, extravagant love of the Lord for us!”
I think “the wild, extravagant love of the Lord for us!” is reflected in the intrinsically delicate beauty of butterflies and dandelions and hummingbirds, and in the amazing and holy artistry of lacy snowflakes. Infinitely gentle, precisely crafted, insistent, persistent, minutely detailed beauty offered in love as love to reflect this part of His love and heart for us.
All of these combined, of course, cannot and do not make up a correct image of the tiniest corner of “the wild, extravagant love of the Lord for us!”, but it can be a bit of start if we allow ourselves to think, consider, and meditate on all these elements some. It’s the mercy of the Lord, I think, that we have no idea really, of the height and depth and breadth of “the wild, extravagant love of the Lord for us!”; I think it would crush us in our current earthly, sin-affected state. Yet if and as we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33) and be willing to dwell a little on what the passion of the Lord’s love for us is like, brief little hints like this may come to us. Moments when it’s as if the Lord says, “Oh, I can’t stand holding this in anymore, I just have to show you a little bit!”
And why? Because He first loved us! (I John 4:19)
“...to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.” (Isaiah 61:3)