Today I’m entering my 72nd year. Much older now than my mother, brothers, and husband were when they died. Much much much older. When we meet in glory I’m going to be the older sister to all of them! How very strange. Only one person in our family has lived longer and that was my Dad who chuntered on into his 90’s.
All very unexpected. Do not treat me like a septuagenarian. Ever! The person inside my skull is usually 18, sometimes 9, and occasionally 85, so her thoughts ricochet wildly from random and immature, to wise and considered, to superficial nonsense. Like a runaway horse. Forget the pigeon hole you might be tempted to put me in – horses bolt from confined spaces and a bolting horse is a terrible thing.
I did a quick google calculator thing and (ignoring leap years,) I have already had 26,280 days. That’s (very) approximately 47934720 heart beats. I don’t know where to put the comma in that number… is 4 million or 47 million or 479 thousand, or what? Who know? It’s a whole lot anyway.
Another google site says your heart beats 42 million times in a year. By that reckoning my heart has beaten two thousand nine hundred and forty billion times. That can’t be right.
But anyway, it beats.
Why? According to the RC catechism (great swathes of which pop into my head unbidden):
Q: Why did God make you?
A: God made me to know Him, love Him and serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in the next.
That’s a strange way of putting it, and somehow it misses out the whole point of our existence. I have some sympathy with Friedrich Nietzsche, who said “I cannot believe in a God who wants to be praised all the time” , sympathy because the picture of a creator who demands praise all the time is a picture of a needy, self-centred despotic god. Small g.
My God, the God I worship and walk with, the one in whom ‘all things hold together’, made me because He loves me. He loved me at the beginning of creation, He loves me now, and however bonkers I am, however black and moody and difficult and plain bloody-minded I am at times, He will love me just the same at the end of the world and into the depths of eternity. I knew Jesus as God many years ago, and I believed in Him, and trusted in Him (to an extent) but in the last few years I’ve come to deeper understanding. Someone in my little church has taught me why God made me and it’s the best truth ever known to man, and has changed everything for me. Everything. I will be forever grateful for that teaching, that patience.
Here’s the catechism according to Luce. No guarantees it’s right, but here it is:
Q: Why did God make me?
A: God made me because He is love, He loves me, and I bloomin’ well delight Him.
When God had finished the creation of the world, after making mankind, we know for a fact that ‘God saw all that he had made and it was very good.’
He is love. Everything He is and does is love. He creates in love. You and me? We are , we ARE, we exist, because of His love.
I am so very grateful not only for His love, but for the knowledge of His love, and I am beyond grateful for the death of our lovely Jesus on that bloodied cross, for the daily walk with the God of all creation, for His guidance and His safeguarding, for His Spirit in me.
Here’s something that just occurred to me, listen… the death on the cross, wonderful as it was, sacrificial and amazing, true and bloody, it was ALSO a perfect and carefully constructed image for us, a living parable, it was God saying ‘This is how much I love you.’ The sacrificial death on the cross of the Son of God was terrible and real, but it was also an allegory, because with our limited understanding, our imaginations tethered to what we consider possible, there was only one way to show perfect love to mankind. That way was death. Inevitably.
I’m not saying that the crucifixion was a symbol, or that it wasn’t real in every ghastly agonising way, but it was ALSO the perfect illustration of perfect love.
Our amazing God.
So, for 47934720 or a gazillion million heart beats (who knows?), I thank Him. For all the ups and downs of a chaotic and battered life, I thank Him. Yes, there has been bad stuff in my life, of course there has. But I know that His love, perfect and pure, brought with it no evil or sadness. All of that bad stuff was brought by another and my God of love brought me through it all. Just as He died for love of me, every day and hour and heart beat of my life, He has lived for me. He lives for me today, in my heart. He lives for all of us, for ever, present and active in our lives.
He brought me through every beat of a breaking heart, every beat of a joyful heart, every breath I’ve ever taken, He has brought me through it all. I’ve had a richer, fuller, wilder, more exciting life than any novelist could dream up. As a writer, I know that I couldn’t do it justice, couldn’t do Him justice.
And I love Him. Today is my day of praise for my great great God.
At moments like this, thinking of God, praising Him, conscious of his goodness, these are the moments when we are truly and fully alive.
Why did God make me? For moments like this.