Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Like the dew that disappears

My five-year-old nephew revoked his friendship from me when I was babysitting last night because of my cruelty in withholding additional time on the wii beyond his daily allotment. “You better give me special Auntie-Em-wii-time,” he ordered, “or I won’t be your friend anymore!”

It brought back old memories from the church nursery when my childhood best-friend (except not evidently of that day) revoked her friendship for some now-forgotten crime of mine.

“I won’t be your friend again!” she had threatened.

Always a natural diplomat, I struggled to comprehend this dilemma. “But,” I reasoned helplessly, “you can’t not be my friend, because I’ll be your friend.”

“You can’t,” she countered, “because I won’t be your friend.”

I pondered my quandary. Whether or not friendship would have required a mutual agreement between the parties, we could hardly be enemies if one of the parties continued to extend friendship. She could withhold any benefits of friendship from me that she wanted, but could the friendship nevertheless remain intact if I continued to extend them to her? Beyond that, I wasn’t sure what friendship involved beyond mutual affection, so if my fondness for her continued, the doors to friendship would remain open.

(Seriously, I remember pondering all this, though perhaps not in those terms.)

“Well,” finally concluded triumphantly in the full capacity of my three-year-old articulation, “I’ll still like you.”

And certainly, one of the mysteries of the Gospel is that Christ continues to extend his friendship out to us after we have revoked ours from him like my nephew or my nursery friend. But while I would not go so far as to affirm the Calvinist doctrine of irresistible grace (at least not in its simplistic form), I have begun to hope that God’s friendship is not quite as helpless to childhood tantrums as my three-year-old capacities had left me.

Perhaps the deeper magic of the Gospel is that his open offer of friendship extends beyond our blockades, even those we maintain until our deaths. Perhaps his very offer of friendship begins the process of healing that our acceptance of it would complete (or at least would expedite). Perhaps healing comes to some extent whether I like it or not, as it does when I skin my knee. Perhaps though (as Hosea says) our love is like the morning cloud and like the dew that disappears, God has already (as Isaiah says) blotted out our transgressions like a cloud and our sins like a mist. Perhaps he hauntingly calls out to us, “Return to me, for I have [already?] redeemed you.”

For those who are not sure what I mean, never fear: I don't either. I just like to think our little tantrums might not have the last laugh.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like this post very much Em.