Face It

“A moment will pass, but a movement will last.”

“There is no power greater than love.”

“Anytime you hold onto the past, for anything in any area of your life, it will show up in your habits, in your behavior. It shows up in the way you treat other people. It shows up in the way you feel about yourself. It shows up in your health. It has to come out in some form.”

Perissos

Do you know what perissos means?

We commonly translate perissos from Greek to English as the word “abundant”. But listen to the other English translations of “perissos”:

-more than
-beyond what is expected
-exceeding expectations
-going past the expected limit
-more than enough
-even more
-further
-greater
-more extremely
-much more

My favorite translation of perissos is: excessive. God’s love is excessive. No poverty mentality here. There is way more than enough to go around.

I love the definitions of perissos:
-exceeding some number or measure or rank or need
-over and above, more than is necessary, superadded
-exceedingly, beyond measure
-more than others
-pre-eminence, superiority
-more remarkable
-more excellent

And maybe my favorite definition of perissos:
extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon. That is the heart of God. That is the life that Jesus said He came to give us. That is God’s love for us.

To me the “wrath of God”, per se, is against any and all thinking that makes Him less than that in our minds.

We are the ones with the ego problem. We project what WE would do onto what we think He is and would do. I think the whole point of God reaching out to us through Jesus was to show us how wrong we were about Him. To show us His real heart. His real love. Jesus said if you’ve seen Him, you’ve seen The Father.

Look how big the cosmos is. Immeasurable. Grand beyond comprehension. Science is forever trying to contain God. And yet our minds are exploded over and over unending.

How many scientists are there in the world today? In all of time? All working on understanding the mind of our Creator through studying what He created. And I have a feeling we’ve barely scratched the surface.

Yet it is THAT God who says He knows the number of hairs on your head, my head. It is THAT God who says He knows all the stars by name. It is THAT God who said He formed you in your mother’s womb.

It is THAT same God who so loves you. Who so loves me. That He came down on our level and let us hurt Him. Not to satisfy His bloodlust. But to change our minds about Him.

I remember being introduced to my great-grandmother, for the first time, as a small child. I hadn’t seen anyone as old as her before. I thought she looked like Skeletor from the He-Man cartoons. Someone told me to hug her and I was scared to death. They knew her but she was a stranger to me. And I was terrified of her.

They say that the best way to communicate with a child is to get down on their eye level. To me, that is what the whole Jesus story is about. God seeing we are terrified of Him because we don’t know Him. We don’t know His love for us. So He comes down to earth and gets on our eye level. So we can see Him in a way that we can understand. Not as just the Genius of the Galaxies. But in us. For us!

Have you heard of the science of play? It’s more than horsing around. Play is pretty essential to development and success. We dress it up and call it more formal names when speaking of similar concepts present in adult behavior. But essentially little kids and big kids do the same thing: we weren’t born knowing everything; we use play as one of the ways to understand who we and others are.

Play can appear very aggressive. I don’t think fighting is only a learned behavior. I’ve babysat children with “perfect” parents who raise their children in protective bubbles. Those children still know how to fight. No matter how much it embarrasses their parents. I think we have some fight in us from birth.

Have you ever had a child initiate a play fight with you? Even though they probably aren’t conscious of it, they are trying to find out who you are and who they are in the process. The child takes a swipe at you and they are watching your reaction. Waiting to see if they hurt you, if you get angry, if you attack back, etc. (Adults do the same thing.)

To me, God sees that we are that kid who got a faulty idea of Him. So He comes down as Jesus and says, “Ok, here I AM. Let me show you who I AM. Really, truly who I AM.”

And although He knows we aren’t going to get it, He does only great things as Jesus. Only healing and love. Only deliverance and nourishing. And He knows we still are not going to understand.

So He says, “Ok, take your best shot. Hit me as hard as you can. And see what happens. See how I react. See what I do.” So we will understand our faulty idea of “sinners in the hands of an angry God” is not who He really is.

We give Him our best shot. We beat Him. We put a crown of thorns of His head. We drag Him through the streets. Driving Him with a terrible torture device on His bloody torn back. We nail His hands and feet. We string Him up, humilated, to suffocate and bleed out. We give Him our best shot.

Does He retaliate? Does He smite us? If there ever was a time for the wrath of God.

Our faulty idea of Him started in the Garden of Eden. I think it’s no mistake that He chose another garden, the Garden of Gethsemane, to make His character so clear before He allowed Himself to be turned over to our lust for blood.

Remember? He walked towards those coming to kill Him. They didn’t have to chase Him down.

And then just to prove what He could do if He really wanted to, all He said was “I AM” and all the soldiers fell on the ground. He didn’t hurt them. He was proving a point. “I give My life. No one takes it from Me.”

That’s why it was such a big deal that He stopped Peter from chopping off people’s ears and brandishing the sword. He even goes above and beyond and heals the ear of the soldier that is going to be delivering Him to death. That is our God. That is His “wrath”.

It’s like we are the kid and He is saying, “No matter how long it takes, no matter how much it takes, I AM going to walk with you however far you need to go to see who you are in Me and who I AM.”

If we look at the big picture, I think Jesus was on earth, on our eye level, to show us that no matter what we throw at Him, His love never changes. His love is never in question. It’s not His wrath that He came to satisfy. It is our healing He came to secure.

He will be worshipped, i.e. celebrated. But not as the pagan gods we create through projecting our fears. Not as the pagan gods we demand require appeasments. He will accept worship, but not for ego. Only for who He truly is.

What does this have to do with perissos? What does this have to do with excessive life? Extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon life?

I think God’s heart is always to give us the good of the Garden of Eden. To give us the Promised Land. To give us our inheritance – His wealth we had no part in accumulating.

But I think as the original good parent, He will not give it to us if it will make or contribute to us losing our minds. I don’t think being placed outside the Garden of Eden was punishment. I think it was protection.

He wants our ultimate good. Not just temporary comfort. No matter how much He longs to gather us under His wing. We are the ones who are not willing.

Eternal life is knowing Him. Not just having stuff. And yet I think perissos shows us He longs to give us all He has in mind for us. Exceedingly abundantly more than we can think or imagine. But not if we think we have to appease Him. Not if we think we have to perform. Not if we think He is angry at us versus having a passionate zeal for our freedom.

How far will you go as a parent to free your children from what kills them? The loving parent doesn’t enable their child’s destruction, no matter how much the sick child screams and cries for what will hurt them. If a child asks for a piece of bread, will the father give him a snake? How much more our heavenly Father.

This gives me hope. That this world is not abandoned. But I feel like collectively we are the prodigal. And He is waiting for us to come back home. To stop trying to do it on our own.

Not asking us to do more. Not doling out His love based on the level of our pretentious appearances of piety. But to get off the performance train and rest in who He is and who we are in Him.

He is ready to throw us a party. To celebrate us turning from the death of self-reliance towards excessive uncommon life in Him.

Whew!

I am confronted by my own mortality the older I get. I used to not be consumed by those thoughts to the degree that they haunt me now.

A thought that tends to ease my anxiety is that this earth is a temporary stop on my soul’s journey to my true eternal resting place wherever God is.

In thinking of these things combined with my new perspective on parts of the Bible, I was thinking today that maybe even sleep and night are literal shadows to prepare us for what is to come?

When we close our eyes and are no longer in control, we don’t normally fear as night falls and darkness covers us as we lay “dead asleep” in bed. We trust that we will wake up on the other side of mo(u)rning. In the light. Refreshed anew.

God could have created us not to need rest. He didn’t have to create night and day. Maybe He created night and day and the need for sleep as pictures to prepare us for things to come?

I think of the verse that says His mercies are new every morning. I think of how God created all in six days and then He rested.

We repeat the cycle of seven days to every week without thinking maybe there is more spiritual significance than mere habit or science. Even in our speech we acknowledge the first day of every week as a new start.

I think about when God authored the circumcision procedure for His people: He specifically told them to wait until the eighth day to remove the covering on the child. (Yet again, the theme of covering). Why day eight? Another picture?

People say the number seven signifies an end to something. And the number eight represents a new beginning. I know I do not yet fully understand all the meanings of circumcision, but I believe it was meant in part as a continual reminder of God’s promise to His people, and maybe to all of us in future generations, that death is only a passing from one understanding to another. Removing the veil of this world to a seeing as we are seen in the next?

I think of children. How we do not feed them gourmet cuisine. It has no value to them. Sometimes I wonder if this world is in like manner our spiritual infancy. Everything pointing to something greater on the other side. Our time here preparation. Born having an unrefined taste for God, but slowly driven to desire His Presence through the trials we encounter in this world. Although beauty also draws us in.

I remember as a child being fascinated by every little thing. But then I lost my joy for the simpler things, per se. I yearn now in my spirit for greater completeness. Maybe passing from this life to the next is when we realize how little we settled for down here. Like the saying goes, when a person matures from milk to meat?

I think of the iconic last supper and Jesus’ use of wedding feast imagery. Also, the parable of turning the water into wine. More assurances of finer things waiting for us on the other side. Paul said to die is gain.

I think of Paul telling the Romans that all of Creation speaks of God. I think of the caterpillar: going inside, dying a death, being resurrected to the greater glory of the butterfly. Graduating from crawling on the ground to soaring in the sky. It makes me curious to look at everything in nature to see whether there are more spiritually significant pictures available that we take for granted?

Perfect love casts out fear. The more I know of God’s love, the less I fear the future. Whether that future be in this physical body or on the other side.

If I understand correctly, tradition is that the child is circumcised by the priest. Even more meaning there when coupled with Jesus being our High Priest and God saying He will circumcise our hearts. He will remove the covering we put on back in the garden with Adam and Eve. He will trade our hearts of stone out that we may see Him as He is and be drawn by His love in order to participate freely in who we were always made to be.