i can't make you love me

Why does a good God let bad things happen? And if He lets bad things happen, is He really good?

And if He lets these bad things happen, and theoretically/theologically He is good, why would we want to hang out with Him anyway?

We dance around these question all the time in counseling, and in life.

They're hard to get out into the open, if you grew up religious like I did.  (I'm sitting here feeling really anxious right now, I'll confess.)

But the thing is, some of my clients are braver than me when it comes to telling and yelling and cussing out the pain of the bad things they've endured, and a God who's inexplicably absent.

And I have to sit there and say, "I have a theological construct for this, but I bet you already know what it is," and sure enough they can quote chapter and verse.

But the knowledge in their heads doesn't do much for the hurt in their hearts.

They are just pissed.  And confused.  And feeling like they, and their pain, should matter more to God.  It feels like He should fix it, if He can.  And He doesn't.  And the theological constructs become an insult to the pain that just won't quit.

So I sit and listen and sometimes I cry.  And they go home.  And I go home.

Sandra Martin, a wise lady I know, said just this morning:  "We are offended by process.  We prefer miracles."


I know best how this world should be run:  my way.  My miracle, just the way I want it, on demand.

And sure, I hear the offense, the demand, the arrogance--the rank stupidity, let's be honest--that lives inside me when I say this.

But it is so stinkin' hard to let go of what I think is best, and to receive God's provision in the meantime.

Or even to see that there is a provision, if I'm mad enough.

My supervisor was talking about the incomprehensible interaction between the sovereignty of God and the free will of humanity--that wilderness where promises are made, and only 400 years later, fulfilled.  And then not in a way anybody expected or understood or even much noticed at the time.

He said (here comes the theoretical construct) that God wants us to love Him of our own free will.  And He wants that so much that here we all are today, with the consequences of thousands of years of free will--ours and everybody else's--run completely amok.

Waiting for That Day.

I guess we can mostly see this on the good days, when the sun is shining and the kids are healthy and we're fresh from a day at the beach.  When the consequences are not so noticeable.  But when it's dark and there's a Diagnosis and we don't think we will survive to see the goodness of God in the land of the living--well.  Those days are another story.

My kids play this Bon Iver cover of Bonnie Raitt's "Nick of Time" around the house some days.  (When it's played at our house, it's played full-blast.  So if you hit the play button below, crank it up to get the right effect.)

And today, Bon Iver has been ringing around in my head as maybe what God would sing to me:  His longing for me to love Him.

His willingness to lay down the control, and to let me love Him only if I choose.

Not as a theological construct.

Not as an explanation to stick in my head.

But as a cry from the heart of the Lover of my soul.

"I can't make you love me."  (Well, He could, but He won't.)

And today, anyway, it's been good for me to shut up with my arrogance and my demands and my need for a miracle, my way.

And just to listen to the One who loves me, and refuses to force my heart.


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