He came to me with those eyes again, and they pierced right through me. He came and shined His light on those subtle and even sometimes hidden fears and accusations that arise in times of weakness and become a shielding wall toward the ever free kindness and love of Christ. He put His finger on these fears that say, “One day He’ll have enough of your weakness, your lack of patience with others, your selfishness and pride, and His disappointment will finally override His enjoyment of you.” It’s an old taunter indeed, and one Jesus has zeal to destroy and drive out with His jealous love (1 Jn. 4:18).
It was in one of those moments when my desperate reach and fight for full abandonment to God collided with my failure in patience and my selfishness (a few run-arounds with my kids, to be exact). And I found myself in a heap before Him once again – a very willing heart, so real, and yet, weak flesh just as present (Matt. 26:40). And there in my humbled state, He knelt once more to lift my eyes to His. We’ve been here many times before. And I’ve found each time that I see those eyes while in the crisis of my weakness, there is something to be known of Him that can’t be found at other times. There is something to receive here that can’t be received except from this place. Each time brings me a step nearer to His heart than I’ve come before.
Reluctant, I scanned His eyes for that trace of disappointment I was certain I’d find. I looked to find that displeasure I felt deserving of. Still so slow am I to recall how His lovingkindness never fails a willing heart, never growing weary or discouraged to bring it forth. How easily I forget His constant patience and kindness even in the process, even when I stumble along the way. And so again, He brought me to see wave after wave of kindness in His eyes, wave after wave of tenderness and gentleness.
And once again, it was as though He was waiting for me. Waiting for me to leave my fears behind. Waiting for me to remember His lovingkindness and hold it higher than my hesitance. Waiting for me to respond to my stumbling not in shame but with quick returning to Him who delivers me and cleanses me and washes me. For He knows that it’s when I behold His countenance and finally see into His eyes that the light of truth breaks forth into my soul.
Every time I take a step forward in God, it is due to that stunning kindness and enjoyment He shows me in the thick of my weakness. Here, like no other time, I am stripped of strength, left without a good thing of my own to accredit it to. Just little me in the wake of strong grace. And here, in the thick of my weakness, I drink of His kindness, like a pure untainted stream, marking me forever with the memory of just how it came to me – when I knew I could do nothing apart from Him.
Such drink never fails to become for me the very source of my arising, the very force of my obedience and abandonment. It’s His kindness that leads to repentance and ushers the heart into a fervency that it can never muster without such revelation (Rom. 2:4). Wholehearted obedience and radical abandonment do not come cheaply or easily. Yet they do come by an extravagant kindness offered to us based upon nothing we did to deserve it. Out of encountering His beautiful heart, an abandonment of highest nature comes forth. The “forgiven much” always love much (Lk. 7:47).
One of the greatest fights, not just at the beginning of our journey of knowing and following Jesus, but all the way through, is persistent confidence in His love, even while we struggle in our pursuit of wholehearted obedience. So many with a willing heart and a fervent fight to be wholly His find themselves discouraged and sidelined over time because they give in to the shame of their stumblings. They refuse to meet the eyes that reveal unrelenting mercy and tenacious jealousy to bring them forth. In fact, the rarest of all hearts is the one who is confident in the Lord’s kindness amidst weakness or compromise. David understood this so well. He knew that to linger in his shame and to distance his heart for fear of God’s disappointment was not only to live in a lie personally but it was to also give a false testimony of God’s heart to others. Though he compromised greatly in his lifetime, with more sin recorded about him than any other person in the Bible, it was David who cried out, “His gentleness has made me great! He delivered me because He delighted in me!” (Ps. 18:19, 35).
It’s here in these times of weakness where our confidence in the extravagant nature of God’s mercy is put to the test. It’s the one that finds himself in the heap I described, and immediately chooses to cry out to the Lord, to not linger in accusation or fear but to rush toward Him in repentance and confidence, that actually responds rightly. How treasured such responses must be to the Lord! For the one who rushes toward Him so quickly and so unreservedly knows and gives witness to His heart most accurately, understanding the truth of His love most clearly.
This One who stoops to meet our gaze when we come up short, even in the very middle of our stumbling, is so jealous over our hearts. He draws us nearer still in these specific times that He might drive out every false idea of His nature and every fear of His disappointment by His piercing and overwhelming love. His desire is to take our willing hearts and make us those who rush to Him in confidence, fleeing our failure and turning from our compromise, bold in our love and certain of His heart.