"And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God."
-Paul's letter to the Church in Ephesus, Ephesians 3:18-19
On Sunday morning, one of our funky little LifePath bands led us toward Jesus with a song called Head to the Heart (though ours looked a bit less hipster). The chorus goes, From the head to the heart, You take me on a journey, of letting go, and getting lost in You. It's hard not to move joyfully with the beat. It's the kind of thing you'd probably experience if a Jesus revival broke out at a Lumineers concert.
There are a lot of lyrics worth contemplating in this song, but I found that I couldn't stop dwelling on the bridge....
More than words // more than big ideas
I found your love in the open fields
For someone like me whose work in life is directly connected to words and big ideas, I laughed at the irony of how deeply true I feel like that lyric is for discipleship.
We need some more open fields in our lives, friends. There is a delight that comes from being connected with Jesus through more than words, and we often miss out on it.
Our world is full of so so many words, and they can often get in the way.
Our faith is full of so so many words, and they can often get in the way.
My head is full of so so many words, and they can often get in the way.
Christianity is an embodied faith. At its most beautiful, it is a complete mix of the heart and mind and soul. No part of our day is separated from the holiness of God's world, and no part of our body is separated from the experience of discipleship. We experience God's goodness through taste, sight, touch, sound, and smell. Even when we believe and trust Jesus (mind and heart), we are baptized (body!) to symbolize it. But the temptation is to minimize the full sensory experience, so we often boil discipleship down to: knowing stuff.
We've prized the mind over all of it, and it can hinder us from experiencing the fullness of God's love.
Yes, our minds are important. Jesus corrected people's beliefs about God constantly, helping them understand God's heart. But at the same time, Jesus called the disciples so that they could "be with him." That was the priority. He wanted them to know and experience what love was, because he knew that would lead humanity to turn toward him and change the world for good.
That's a very different priority than trying to understand everything. As humans, we love to figure stuff out. And yet, sometimes the best thing we could possibly do for our spiritual formation is just go out into an open field alone so that we can simply get loved by Jesus.
I love that Paul begins his blessing to the Ephesians by saying he hopes that they'll be able to "understand" the grandeur of God's love. Then, as if catching what he just said, he almost doubles back and says, actually, it's too great to understand fully, so my real hope is just that you experience it, since you'll never be able to truly figure it out.
More than words, more than big ideas...
I found your love in the open fields.
Open fields are places of freedom. They are expansive. They invite play and exploration and contemplation and curiosity and wonder and all the big feelings that are a little beyond our ability to describe. Open fields are the places around us and inside us where we can simply go out and chase after Jesus so that we come away changed by this profound experience of love. Sure, it can involve the mind, but love is never truly a mental exercise. It's all about the heart.
So our question this morning is this: are you able to move beyond just thinking about faith and into experiencing life with God? It'll look different for you than it will for me. But sometimes we just need to get out of our heads, shut up, and throw ourselves into the mystery of it all in order to start to really grasp how deep and wide and great and wonderful it is that we are loved beyond reason.
Jesus, slow me down enough to discover your love in new ways today.