Saturday, December 10, 2011

Agony and Ecstasy

God always calls it like it is. The beautiful and the ugly. The good and the bad. The hard and the easy. The agony and the ecstasy.

The Bible reading plan I use on a daily basis directed me to a couple of books I don't typically gravitate toward (which is one reason a plan is useful). On December 9, I read 3 John. The Letter of Jude followed on December 10. A couple of words have tugged at my heart since I read those chapters. God has tugged at my heart since I read those words.

The first word is beloved. It begins verse 2 of 3 John.

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.

I have to admit here that my very first thought after reading this sentence was Pride and Prejudice. Do you remember the lake scene in the Colin Firth version? Mr Darcy, so unnerved by unexpectedly running into Elizabeth Bennett, stumbles through a conversation with her, asking her twice, "and your parents are in good health?"

 Poor guy.

After I smiled about that for a while, I found myself drawn to the word beloved. Here's what I wrote in the margin of my Bible.

"expanding for me to take word beloved and separate it to be-loved. It's like you take a person, maybe one who doesn't feel like they deserve such love, hold them by the shoulders, look them in the eye and trying to convince them of your deep, real affection for them, you command them to  be loved  (by you)."

God is not only calling me his beloved, he is telling me to be loved by Him. What that looks like and feels like will be different on different days, but the truth that I am his beloved and that he is loving me doesn't change.

The next day, I read Jude. This time, it was verse 3 that grabbed me.

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

I underlined beloved, but it was the word contend that stumped me here. What does it mean "to contend for the faith?"

I looked up contend in Strongs, and saw the following.

Ok, the Greek word they translated to contend contend. But what caught my eye (and heart) here was the root word I saw in the middle of the transliteration, epagonizomai. There is a lot of agonizing surrounding our faith. This following Jesus is not an easy path. Heck, I have to contend with myself about my faith sometimes! Agonize has no good connotation with it. But is anything worthwhile easy? And if there's anything worth agonizing over, it's what is true and will last forever.

So, these two words, beloved and contend, have been bouncing around my cranium and my atriums. Both true. Both life giving. Both words God gave to us to help us know Him more and love Him more. He will help us, the beloved, contend for the faith. That will give Him glory and us joy.

1 comment: