Great, Yet Tender.

Good morning. It’s time to breathe.

It’s time to chew that breakfast a little more slowly. Time to sip that coffee instead of gulping it.  It’s time to observe the way the leaves take on a bright, Polaroid hue in the early light. You need to pause here for a second, because it’s time to step away from your schedule, take account of your surroundings, and just remember who you are.

And who you’ve been called to be.

Here’s an anecdote from Brennan Manning, a Christian mystic and recovered alcoholic, that just wrecks me.

“One hundred years ago in the Deep South, a phrase so common in our culture today, “born again,” was seldom or never used. Rather, the phrase used to describe the breakthrough into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ was ‘I WAS SEIZED BY THE POWER OF A GREAT AFFECTION.’

These words described both the initiative of God and the explosion within the heart when Jesus, instead of being a face on a holy card with long hair and a robe became real and alive. This phrase lent new meaning to the old Russian proverb, ‘Those who have the disease called Jesus will never be cured.’”

Sometimes, taking in the familiar things with renewed eyes can be a catalyst for refreshment. Let this truth work its way into your guts and bones:

We’ve been saved (by grace, and through faith, no less). We’ve been born again. We’ve got the Holy Spirit inside of us, helping us work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

But how about that old phrase up there—“seized by the power of a great affection”?

Catch those violent words: ones like “power,” “great,” and “seize.” And, the way they contrast with that tender “affection” at the end.

Family, our God is terrible and merciful. Powerful and meek. And if you belong to Him, then you need to remember: a great and tender power works inside you today. You’ve been seized by it, and it refuses to let you go. It’s love in its rawest form: sometimes abrasive, sometimes balmy, always abiding.

And if we forget that we’ve been seized by such a great and powerful affection—one that doesn’t wear off—then we cram our food, inhale our drinks, and bypass our surroundings and surrounders in favor of the things we’ve just gotta’ get done.

But we’re meant to be before we do. The Apostle John reminds us:

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1, ESV).

Stop for a second. Remember your first love. Remember that you’ve got the disease, and it wants to go viral. And remember above all, that you’ve got an identity to live out:

You’re a living, breathing, child of your Father.

Godspeed,

-Ben Humeniuk