I love thee for I must | From an Old Soul
Have you ever prayed for healing? Here’s a challenging entry from George MacDonald’s Diary of an Old Soul. My comments follow.
Some say that thou their endless love hast won
By deeds for them which I may not believe
Thou ever didst, or ever willedst done:
What matter, so they love thee? They receive
Eternal more than the poor loom and wheel
Of their invention ever wove and spun.
I love thee for I must, thine all from head to heel.
George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul
Augsburg Fortress Press 1994
I’m often perplexed and uneasy when someone professes deep love for God because of what God seems to do just for him or her. Perhaps it’s a special healing, protection from imminent danger, winning the lottery, or some other deeply desired outcome.
For example, take stories about healings. Sometimes they’re considered the result of earnest prayers or the faithful life of a particular person. It might seem God has favorites, or at least values the prayers of some people more than others. Is that why my sister Diane wasn’t healed of ALS?
Prayer and faith are necessary. Miracles happen. Jesus’ birth as God’s son and as one of us is a case in point. But does God create made-to-order miracles that benefit some and not others? As though God favors some more than others? Or worse, because some aren’t as filled with “faith” as others?
George MacDonald had chronic tuberculosis. Suppose one of his friends says she loves God above all others because God completely healed her from her tuberculosis. Was this because of her great faith, or her friends’ great faith? Does this mean that MacDonald’s faith is lacking? Or his love for God? Or that God’s love for him is lacking?
MacDonald takes a gracious approach to such claims of special favor. He says that even if they’re true (which MacDonald finds difficult if not impossible to believe), they don’t scratch the surface of God’s love or God’s good gifts to us.
In fact, we might be wasting energy when we weave complex, intricate stories about how God blessed us and why we love God so very much. In the end, what matters is that we love God and accept the gifts God gives us.
God isn’t after our votes, and there’s no way we can earn cards that proclaim we’re Special, if not Exceptional.
My well-intentioned stories about God’s special gifts or miracles just for me or mine don’t begin to tell the true story. God has already, without my great faith or prayers, showered love and uncounted gifts on you and on me, no matter where we live or who we are.
MacDonald is happy when anyone loves God, for any reason whatever. We don’t need to understand the ins and outs of miracles or blessings. Nor do we need happy answers to every prayer sent up for ourselves or strangers. That’s not how God’s economy works.
Our prayers for ourselves and others are important. Yet before and beyond that, God invites us to love God with all our hearts. The way God first loved us. No matter what lies ahead.
God’s love for me doesn’t depend on what I do for God.
Nor does my love for God depend on what God does for me.
In truth, I have no other choice; without God I would not exist.
And so, “I love thee for I must, thine all from head to heel.”
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 Dec 2015