Thursday, September 3, 2009


This passage has been stuck in my head for the past couple of days since I read it:

"The Lion of Judah in His present risenness pursues, tracks and stalks us here and now. When we cry out with Jeremiah, 'Enough already! Leave me alone in my melancholy,' the Shepherd replies, 'I will not leave you alone. You are Mine. I know each of my sheep by name. You belong to me. if you think I am finished with you, if you think I am a small god that you can keep at a safe distance, I will pounce upon you like a roaring lion, tear you to pieces, rip you to shreds and break every bone in your body. Then I will mend you, cradle you in My arms and kiss you tenderly.'"
-Brennan Manning, The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus

I can imagine that this imagery is troublesome to many. It is certainly more ferocious than we tend to view God. But to me it is welcome and beautiful and makes my heart cry out "I love You, Jesus!" I know myself - my tendency to choose the easy, the safe, the comfortable, the controllable - even when it comes to God. But praise Him, He knows me too and loves me and will not let me be content with a tiny, confined little world - however appealling it may be.

The above passage reminded me of a sonnet that I first read in college. In Manning's passage, God is speaking to us. In Donne's sonnet, the speaker is, I think, begging for God to pounce on him in just the way described above.

Batter my heart, three-person'd God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
-John Donne

Are you like me? Are you afraid that God will break you and yet you somehow long for it? It may be that this is the human condition.

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