Hearts of stone
A week or so ago, I read in 1 John 4:9 “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” The concept of us living through Jesus, rather than the more usual thought of Him living through us, really grabbed me; it seemed somehow more expansive, more extensive, with immense and boundless potential for the abundant life we’re so seeking for. I think probably the meaning in the Greek is that we might have eternal life through him, but we don’t have to wait for heaven, for eternal life starts for us when we are born anew of the Spirit of God, when we come alive spiritually through our trusting relationship in Jesus. A bit further on, Apostle John says that we’ve been given eternal life, but it’s as a present possession – it’s in the now.
Anyway, I really had a longing to learn what it would look like to live through Jesus – I thought about the WWJD bracelets that were popular a few years ago, especially amongst the youngsters – not a bad idea to think through “What would Jesus do?” in challenging decisions and dilemmas, and in those modern-day, cultural situations not specifically mentioned in the Bible!
I thought about Jesus saying he was the true grapevine, and that as branches on that vine we were to “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” ……..and that we were to remain in his love. And the mystery of Communion: “Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.”
Then I went down on the beach. It was another wild, wet and woolly day, and because I was 2 hours past low tide that day, there was absolutely no sand visible, so I tramped randomly down and along the pebbles, head well down against the wind, repeating over and over to Jesus how I wanted to know how to live through him. Suddenly, up ahead, I saw a huge stone near the water’s edge which couldn’t help but catch my eye, and I made my way over to it. The stone was most extraordinarily and wonderfully in the shape of a heart, and tears began welling up as I realised it was a special love message from Him, just for me, right that moment. Joy just whooshed all over me! I started back up the beach, and to my amazement it seemed each step brought me to another heart shaped stone, though none the enormous size of the first that had so stood out and grabbed my attention. I sensed Jesus was impressing on me that I had first to learn just how much he loved me. And then I’d be able to love others the same and be living through Him.
Have you noticed how Jesus rarely seems to answer our questions directly, but takes another wide tack altogether into a different dimension almost, opening up a whole new playing field? Well, I was quite overwhelmed by this intimate trail of stone hearts, and cried and laughed by turn, and was quite surprised by joy (to repeat a famous phrase) So I’m just on the first part of the lesson, trying to live in a better awareness of the sheer density and all-round comprehensiveness of His love – the height and width and depth of it, on the distant road to better loving others and really living through Him.
And may your Christmas be strewn with hearts too.