Returning from exile, the people are planted like seed by the provident hand of God. What had been plucked and broken, overthrown and destroyed, is now coming to life again, a new people prepared for a new covenant. No longer will the law live outside them, a code which they had broken again and again, but the law will reside within, for God will etch it into their soft hearts. Indeed, the new temple will be first and foremost the heart. Blessed are the pure in heart, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Jer. 31:27-34).
“Oh, how I love your law! All the day long it is in my mind” (Ps. 119:97). The mind is not far from the heart, for all meditation upon the law quietly forms one’s desires and affections. The law of love is the greatest of the laws, the summation of them all. How good and sweet it is to love God and go with God in love to all our neighbors. God says to this new people, “I have not sent you (in love) to two cities, or ten, or twenty, neither have I sent you to one nation as I once sent the prophets, but I send you into the world, and upon the sea, and into every city” (John Chysostrom, Hom. 15, 6.7). The nation, which is a light to all nations, becomes, in Christ, love to all nations. Christ, the fulfillment of every just law, is a living flame of love placed in the sanctuary of the believing heart. We are going home now in complete confidence that God is planting a new people. The law lives in the heart and the heart lives in all places.
Secure in God, we are not, however, without woe; we cannot quiet every question. All our believing is seasoned with a deep humility as we acknowledge that “we have striven with God and humans” (Gen. 32:28). If only, in this regard, Christians were more Jewish, more fully honest about the strangeness of life, the perplexities and riddles of divine providence. Without for one second receding from a full trust in all that Christ is, knowing that “we have striven with God” and ever shall until the close of our days, will keep the heart open to Christ’s daily visitation, and — let us be grateful — striving with God will make us often laugh at ourselves and the world.
Part of our striving with God is our daily prayer. At home, Christ in the heart, the heart at home in all places, our prayer goes out to the ends of the earth. We pray and pray and wait. We complain and lament. We give thanks and offer praise. Jesus would have us, like the whining widow, beseeching night and day, as if to wear God down. Strange, is it not, for God knows what we need even before we ask? What are we doing when we pray? Praying, we look to God, and looking to God we expand our capacity to receive what God gives.
Help from a teacher: “We should understand that the Lord does not want to know our will, which he is incapable of ignoring, but rather he wants to exercise (expand) our desire in all our prayers so that we are able to receive what he is prepared to give” (Augustine, Ep. 130). Note this: we will never know with certainty what the Lord is prepared to give, and so our prayer is always striving with God.
It is good to be home, to have Christ in the heart, to love the world. It is good also to have very few answers.
Look It Up
Read Ps. 119:103. Divine condiments: word and honey.
Think About It
Faith is open.