Melancholy Musings Give Way to Love…Just Because…

So I had occasion to revisit my old journal today. I actively journaled for probably close to a decade, in the pre-blog era. My journaling was a fair bit different from my blogging, especially when I started in May of 1995, just before I turned 20, just before my Kingdomworks summer began. My journals were obviously and utterly private, just for me, but then again not really. For a long while they were prayer journals, just me talkin’ to God by putting pen to paper, trying to work stuff out. Obviously I could be honest in them in a way that I simply can’t when the writing ends by clicking “publish.” Still, I suppose each type of writing has value, though perhaps very different purposes. As I sit writing now, I’m listening to Vigilantes of Love, from the “V.O.L” album. This cd was a hallmark of the early Circle of Hope days, circa ’96-’98. As you can guess, then, right now my mind and heart are reaching back into the past, almost as if I’m looking for something. What, exactly, I wonder? Is it this?

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This?

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Am I trying to find inside me the person about whom someone once wrote:

“With your intensity and passion comes such an honest outcry for your Creator that you cause people around you to wonder. I often wonder what it feels like to be you. Each time I look at you that way I see King David- and it helps me understand you. You do not let yourself get away with anything and your honesty before God breaks your heart so often, but I do not worry. Because I believe you are a king. And I see you behave like a king. You make the hard decisions to set yourself apart. You love ’til it hurts; you hurt ’til you love. You stretch and grope for His hand when you’re in the dark.”

That same person, referencing our Kingdomworks summer, followed the above up with this:

“At present I desire to high-tail it back to where we belong. Back on the streets where our feet are always dirty and the tears sting. Back where each drop of sweat has a purpose and every smile is a slice of heaven.”

Back where we belong. Back where each drop of sweat has a purpose. The degree to which I’m still yearning to do such high-tailing is well nigh incalculable. Next summer will mark 20 years since I did Kingdomworks, and I’m still spending more time than I care to admit trying to recreate that experience. “I want to show you my allegiance, Lord. Yeah, I want to be a son of yours,” as Bill Mallonee and V.O.L. sang.

I want to be a son, indeed. But I can’t. I’m not. Am I? It’s been 19 years since Kingdomworks, 16 years since mom died, and 3 years since dad finally claimed his rest. Have I learned nothing in all that time? Am I still the kid who had to parent his broken, abusive mom? The kid who got straight “A’s” and skipped two grades? The one who stuttered and got fat and was picked on all the time? That kid? Am I the high school grad who left all that behind and moved across the country and into another world in order to start a new life? The one who signed up for Kingdomworks in the first place? The one who committed to the love of his life and quit school to live with her parents and support her at the very school he had just left behind? The one who brought his new bride to Philly to get back on those streets again? Am I the husband and son who saw his mom and father-in-law die just a day apart, half a country, and again- a world- away? The one who later moved into seminary housing with my wife…and dad, who was trying to die again? The one who then moved my wife and father into his mother-in-law’s house, however briefly, to try to help her too? The same one who later invited her to live with us in the master bedroom in our first home? Am I the foster dad of two young, very troubled, African American boys (again, however briefly) and my own miracle son too? The dad who dropped it all when that miracle son was born and made it his full-time job to caregive at his bedside during his 4 month NICU stay? Am I the son who uprooted his family again to move to TX when Dad’s terminal diagnosis came through, asking a couple with meager resources to come and live in the house we left behind in OH and pay much-lower-than-it-should-have-been rent as we did so?

Did I stop being a son when my last parent died? Bill Mallonee and V.O.L. again have something to say:

when i’m broken see what happens
arms wide open see what happens
when i’m broken see what happens
see what happens to me…

What happens to me, indeed? Does Jesus shine in my brokenness? Is God’s strength made manifest in my weakness? Whatever I am, I know this: I am utterly, wholly, repeatedly, and irredeemably reckless….with love. As I’ve said from time to time, my policy is to “love first, and ask questions later.” That policy of course gets me into whole bucketloads of trouble, but I wouldn’t give back any of it. It’s far better than the alternative. Again, as Bill says:

hopeless is as hopeless does
i love you i love you well just because
that’s to say if i drown
let’s no go into that now
eyes on Him i am found
there’s a cross before the crown
hopeless is as hopeless does
i love you well just because
i love you well just because

I love you. Why? Well, just because…

…because I’ve been loved, because that’s how love works in God’s economy- the more you give, the more you have. Why does it matter? It’s true. By the grace of God, I love you….just because.

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