Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Does Anyone Know
Where the Love of God Goes?

I remember growing up hearing this song of tribute by Gordon Lightfoot. Even today it strikes my heart with a very deep and powerful sense of sadness. Such tragedies move us deeply.

In Lightfoot’s song a question is asked somewhere near the middle of the song:

Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours?

Is there anyone who has not asked this question in some form or another? Is there any person who has not suffered the anguish of feeling as though God’s love had been withdrawn in times of great emotional distress?

Even the Son of God Himself, God Incarnate, cried out when in His own flesh He carried the burden of our sin and the emotional and spiritual separation of the curse of sin that wells up over us like the waves that struck the Edmund Fitzgerald, crying out:

Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46)

Thanks be to God that His love does not go anywhere! As Jesus cries out on the cross, He cries out as our substitute. He took the full measure of the curse of sin into His own flesh and died in our stead. He cried out with our sense of abandonment so that we would know that we do not stand forsaken by God. Jesus cried out in the darkest moment of the history of the world. Jesus cried out when the full measure of evil converged upon a single point in time. So powerful was this cloak of the darkness of evil that even the sun’s light was darkened at mid day. All of this was laid upon Jesus, our brother. He took it into Himself for us.

This is the fulfilment of what was promised in the garden millennia before and reiterated many times throughout the millennia that preceded this “Great and terrible day of the Lord” of which Joel prophecies in Joel 2:31.

In Matthew 14:22-33 the disciples of Jesus were in a storm on the sea, thinking themselves alone. But the Lord Jesus came walking to them upon the water. When Peter realized that it was indeed the Lord, he asked whether the Lord would have him come to Him on the water. Such is the way of true faith.

True faith always hears the voice of the Lord and then asks what the Lord would have the person to do. The answer is always the same, “Come!”

The Lord has clearly told us that He is with us in every circumstance, every trial, every fearful reminder of the evil age in which we live. In every moment we may come to Him in prayer and in prayerful contemplation of the inspired words of Holy Scripture and in singing the hymns. Faith opens our eyes to see and our ears to hear and our hearts to believe the comforting voice of the Lord our God, our beloved Savior.

But like Peter, we are inclined to turn our eyes away and to heed the sound of the crashing waves. Then fear floods our hearts and minds and we cry out like Gordon Lightfoot: Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours?

The truth is that the love of God has not gone anywhere. We are the ones who have turned from God’s love so that we can no longer see or hear or believe it.

But in a moment His love is restored to us when we hear His voice through the means that He has promised and ordained.

This is why the Liturgy has been given to us. No, not a particular ceremony pieced together by fallible men, but the form of true worship in spirit and in truth. This is why the Lord Christ ordained the Sacraments for the life of the Church. He ordained real means by which we would actually see and feel the Word coming to us and giving us the faith that we cannot obtain for ourselves. The Sacrament of the Altar is the ultimate proclamation of the Lord’s death till He comes. With the bread and the wine the Lord Jesus declares that we actually receive His body that unites us as one in Him and His blood by which we receive the forgiveness by which we have life itself. When we receive Jesus in the ways that He has ordained, then we truly know His presence with us throughout every moment of our lives and our fears are turned to confident faith for the facing of whatever waves may buffet us and the ships that we build for ourselves.

Our ships and houses and all of our works are easily destroyed by the tempests that come against us. But the works of the Lord are almighty and the one who trusts in His works is never left to wonder where the love of God has gone.

No comments: