Stone Soup - Stingy Hearts

Last night there was a ladies event at Church titled 'Stone Soup'.  It involved the telling of the tale that we are probably all familiar with - of poor weary travellers longing for a meal and coaxing it out of stingy villagers.  It got me to thinking - especially after Janine's wonderful talk about all that keeps us from generously opening our hearts, lives and resources to others (insert shameless plug for Janine here: - still don't know how to turn that blue)...

I recognized a stingy-ness in my own heart.  I have to be honest that the thing I am most stingy with is not money, time, affection, serving, friendship or food!  It is my love that I am most apt to withhold.  And there is very good reason for this.  Reason - but not justification.  I guess I haven't figured out how to give love without making myself vulnerable to attack, rejection, pain, discouragement and frustration.  I look at how God loves and am awed that He in His great heart of love and generosity would go to such ends to painfully prove His love to us and for us.  Does His love make Him vulnerable?  No, for then He would be a weak God, and that He cannot be!  I want to offer my love - unbounded, free and generous - in like manner to God.  And yet God is rejected all the time.  His love costs Him.  It cost Him His Son.  Not sure I could ever love to a smidgen of a degree like He does.

But what I have come to rejoice in is that I CAN offer my love - unbounded, free, full and without restraint - to God Who accepts my love, welcomes it, and never rejects me.  There is no one I can so fully trust with my heart - with all my love - as the Great Creator, Lover of my soul!  And yet my love is so paltry, faint and weak.  I wish I could love Him more than I do.  I wish my love for Him were more evident.  I wish it were truer, purer, more noble, more real.  Because for all the sentiment that I muster - in words, music or song - I realize, oh so painfully, that sentiment is not the essence of love.  No - I feel I love God, but my actions don't always prove my sentiment.  Sometimes - very often - I fail to give Him the smallest of honours - I fail to bite my tongue when I should - fail to call on Him for help in my weakest moment... yet even in these failures He continues to bid me to shower the weakest effort of my heart upon Him in love.  He welcomed the wayward woman who washed His feet with her tears.  And for all my failures, I'll bet He welcomes me too.

One of my very favourite hymns reflects on this - the words are so poignant and lovely - they break my heart afresh each time I ponder them.  As I have borne and nursed 5 babies, I marvel often that God reaches out to the nursing Mom with words such as these:

Isaiah 49:15
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!"

The Last verse resonates within my soul because it correlates exactly with how I feel - that my love for Him is so weak and poor!  'Oh for grace to love Thee more.'

Hark, my soul, it is the Lord!
’Tis thy Savior, hear His Word;
Jesus speaks, and speaks to thee,
“Say, poor, sinner, lovest thou Me?”

“I delivered thee when bound,
And, when bleeding, healed thy wound;
Sought thee wandering, set thee right,
Turned thy darkness into light.

“Can a woman’s tender care
Cease toward the child she bare?
Yes, she may forgetful be,
Yet will I remember thee.

“Mine is an unchanging love,
Higher than the heights above,
Deeper than the depths beneath,
Free and faithful, strong as death.

“Thou shalt see My glory soon,
When the work of grace is done;
Partner of My throne shalt be:
Say, poor sinner, lovest thou Me?”

Lord, it is my chief complaint
That my love is weak and faint;
Yet I love Thee, and adore:
O for grace to love Thee more!

- by William Cowper

I often like to follow this hymn with a children's hymn with similar words.  And it is my hope that children still sing this hymn - that children are still learning in their tender growing-up years, to worship beautifully - with poetic words and sincere hearts:

It is a thing most wonderful,
Almost too wonderful to be,
That God’s own Son should come from Heav’n,
And die to save a child like me.

And yet I know that it is true;
He chose a poor and humble lot,
And wept, and toiled, and mourned, and died,
For love of those who loved Him not.

I cannot tell how He could love
A child so weak and full of sin;
His love must be most wonderful,
If He could die my love to win.

I sometimes think about the cross,
And shut my eyes, and try to see
The cruel nails and crown of thorns,
And Jesus crucified for me.

But even could I see Him die,
I could but see a little part
Of that great love, which, like a fire,
Is always burning in His heart.

It is most wonderful to know
His love for me so free and sure;
But ’tis more wonderful to see
My love for Him so faint and poor.

And yet I want to love Thee, Lord;
Oh, light the flame within my heart,
And I will love Thee more and more,
Until I see Thee as Thou art.

- by William How


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