Barbara Higby

Extremely Worthy of our Thanks

A God of Extremes #6

Thank you, Lord, for being a God of extremes. Your love is beyond our grasp or appreciation. Your forgiveness is greater than our best efforts at mercy. Your faithfulness extends farther than our most generous attempts. Your light illumines our darkest places and comforts our greatest fears. Your goodness is abundant—outside our comprehension and fully unearned.

Today we use words that are too simple, too common, too cheap, and humbly say, “Thank you, Lord.” With greater gratitude, may our lives be marked by honor, worship, and praise for your extreme mercy.

Amen.

Extreme Goodness

A God of Extremes #5

I included God’s goodness in my last post but, in the light of my mother’s passing last week, I am compelled say more. Reflections on Mom’s life reminded me anew that God is extremely good.

I have long loved Psalm 31:19—How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow… on those who take refuge in you.

God’s goodness is so vast He has it stored up, ready to share with us. This is no meager blessing. God is not a stingy giver. As with everything about Him, God’s goodness is abundant, extreme. He is good and what He does is good (Ps. 119:68).

Our reflections on our mother’s life included remembering the hard times—those when she suffered and those when she made poor choices and those when her rebellious heart worried us. But, through it all, in spite of it all, God’s extreme goodness followed her, just as it follows us. Every time we turn around, there it is—God’s goodness in pursuit of us.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6

Many families will sit around their Thanksgiving table and name what they are especially thankful for this year. Each of those blessings, named and unnamed, comes from God’s extreme goodness.

Extreme Faithfulness

A God of Extremes #3

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Ps. 36:5

As I considered God’s faithfulness this week, I came to a sobering realization: His faithfulness is beyond my comprehension, reaching to the skies, but mine only reaches the degree I receive from others.

Like a barometer, I measure their faithfulness, and rise to that level and not much higher. When someone ignores me, doesn’t invite me, puts distance between us, doesn’t respond to me, discounts my suggestions… I get attitude and my faithfulness becomes tenuous. (Admitting that is painful but also soul-cleansing.)

God is not barometric. Even if we are faithless, He remains faithful (2 Tim. 2:13). He doesn’t have attitude—nothing hinders His faithfulness. This is too great for me to comprehend.

Is it because He loves us without setting conditions? Is it because we’re completely forgiven and He doesn’t hold grudges? Is it because all His ways are loving and faithful (Ps.25:10) and He cannot behave otherwise?

We can’t thwart Him. We can’t distance Him. We can’t discourage Him. “The faithfulness of the Lord endures forever” (Ps. 117:2). Even when ignored, scoffed, distanced, disregarded, unheeded. He is the Shepherd who leaves 99 to find the one who wandered off (Matt. 18:12). Forever faithful, extremely faithful.

Lord, thank you! Grow my faithfulness to reflects yours.

Love and faithfulness go before you. Ps 89:14b

 

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Ps 91:4

 

The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. Ps 145:13

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

Extreme Forgiveness

A God of Extremes #2 

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;

as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:11-12 NIV

As far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins. MSG

I don’t know about you, but my forgiveness generally stretches the length of a city block, maybe a mile or two on a good day. One overheard conversation, one glimpse of the offending person, one trigger can call up the offence in living color and then it begins—a stage-worthy rehearsal, including the precise setting and perfect recitation of lines. And yet, my offences to God, vastly more grievous than any I have suffered, are distanced from me until they’re not visible. One cannot see the east and west or the sunrise and sunset at the same time—the distance God has separated our sins from us. He cannot look at us and see our sin.

I love the tying together of love and forgiveness in these verses. The extreme love we discussed last week cannot exist without extreme forgiveness and extreme forgiveness cannot be offered without extreme love.

I am thankful that there are no triggers that cause God to rehearse my sins, even when I repeat the same offences. According to Colossians 2:14, my sin was nailed to Jesus’ cross and is no longer alive. Jesus’ example shows me it’s not my offender I should crucify, but my own flesh.

Jesus, I am humbled by your extreme forgiveness. Spirit, help me to extremely forgive. Father, thank you for extremely separating my sins from me—as far as the east is from the west.

Image by blizniak from Pixabay

Extreme Love  

A God of Extremes #1 

We witness God’s extreme love from its revelation in the Garden to its revelation on Golgotha:

  • In the Garden of Eden He grieved for His condemned children—lost to sin—and revealed His plan to redeem them.
  • On the mount of Golgotha He grieved for His condemned Son—who became sin—and accomplished His plan to redeem us.

From the fall in Genesis to the vision in Revelation, God demonstrates only love. Love for the rebellious, the apathetic, the hurtful, the ignorant, the blind, the uncaring. Love for those we find too difficult to love and are too impatient to try. His love is excessive, too extreme to comprehend because we can’t identify with its absurd generosity. And He shares it freely, ungrudgingly, liberally with each one of us.

God’s love exceeds our highest expressions of love and our noblest efforts to demonstrate that love. That is why Paul asks for supernatural power to even begin to grasp its immensity.

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power…to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17b-19)

Knowing God’s love is not intellectual. It surpasses knowledge, but when we experience it we are filled with the fullness of God. And then we can begin to love as He does.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay