Great Expectations

This morning on the beach, in a blustery but oddly warm wind, I listened to the daily meditation on Lectio 365 (I recommend this ministry from the 24-7 Prayer organisation). Today its focus was on love, and as it was drawing to a close, the reader quoted a verse from Jeremiah, 31:3

‘I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love and more love!’

I was struck by this because I had never thought about ‘expecting’ God’s love, but although it was a new thought, it seemed right and true. Why had I never heard it before? I love the book of Jeremiah and must have read it three times in the last five years. How have I not thought about ‘expecting’ God’s love before?

The terrible, awful, cringeworthy phrase ‘I’ve never quit’ should have told me, that it was a quote from the Message version of the Bible. I do like the Message but there are moments when clumsy Americanisms break through in a way that seems awkward to the English reader. Making God sound like John Wayne, or John Travolta. So I stood there, sand whipping all around me, and looked up the NIV version of that verse

I have loved you with an everlasting love;
    I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

Ahhh, that’s more like it! But I can see how the translator of The Message, Eugene Peterson, came up with his choice of words – God has told us that his love is everlasting and unfailing, so if we fully believe what he says then we must expect love and never doubt it, although it seems like a bit of a cheek to take that verse and rewrite it into another command, however true.

Great expectations of a great great God.

The thought has stayed with me and nourished me all day. We should expect God’s love. What a great thought, Eugene. You can’t help being American. Thank you.

I have a friend who also can’t help being American, and others who can’t help being Canadian and others who can’t help being South African and some w.c.h.b. Dutch…. my American pal took her ‘right of residency’ test this week. Aren’t governments stupid? All governments everywhere. This woman has married a Brit, has lived here for years, studied here, works here, pays taxes, breaks no laws and yet she had to travel 130 miles and pay good money to take a stupid multiple choice test, jumping through a hoop to satisfy some bonkers rule.

Friends from different cultures enrich life. They make us smile just as we make them smile. This lovely American can’t bear our winding narrow lanes and their historical hedges, hankering after wide straight roads that ‘make sense’. My Canadian friends don’t laugh at the black comedy and gentle absurdity of Fargo as I do. My South African friends saw our ugly little red brick church and declared it to be ‘pretty’ or ‘sweet’ or something. My Dutch friends moor two kayaks under their window so that they can make a quick escape if a dyke is breached, but it’s worth the risk because their house is surrounded by hares and herons and rabbits.

You’re all very strange, but we love you anyway.

Us? Just as strange? Us? Surely not……

I mean, what’s strange about this national icon?

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