Friday, March 4, 2016

Let No Debt Remain

Don’t owe anything to anyone, except your outstanding debt to continually love one another, for the one who learns to love has fulfilled every requirement of the law.
Romans 13:8 TPT


I wonder, sometimes, if believers have begun to look down on love.

I hear believers talk about it-- not to be permissive, not to indulge or enable, not to be deceived. To avoid something we call "cheap grace" (can grace be cheap??).

And I think so much of it comes from feeling manipulated-- a world that has felt shamed and judged by us throws this in our collective face: "You're supposed to love me, not judge me!" and we say, "Yeah, well, you're not supposed to sin!"

I know-- that's kind of harsh and not every believer feels that way, but I've just been thinking a lot about how adorable we all are to the Father.

Because He is our Maker.

In my little studio space in the attic above the garage, I have a pile of what I like to call "artists proofs," but which are actually just cast off prints that didn't make the cut in my beloved printmaking classes in college.

I kept these prints for all kinds of reasons-- like, for a few of them I just loved the deep, deep burnt orange of the ink, even though I was a completely disobedient printmaker who didn't like the flat perfection that we were going for as much as I loved the grainy, almost spongy texture that came when the ink was too dry or too wet on the roller. The color, so rich, but in no design at all. Just vivid blocks on cheap newsprint.

A couple of the pages are unfinished first run-throughs of a jungle scene for a children's book I had (and still have) on my mind, and if you've ever done a linoleum cut then you'll understand why I couldn't bear the idea of throwing those away. If you've ever run copy after copy through a press at two in the morning on paper that cost $5 a sheet and you're too broke to even buy a cup of coffee, you'll understand why those papers are never getting thrown away.

Several of the pages are from the hours I spent experimenting on the old school letter press. I never knew until the first time I was alone at the letter press that one of my favorite ways to write poetry is while I'm setting letters and words with these little lead pieces of the alphabet, placing them backwards across the scene and tightening them with an old tool that so many girls before me had used in that same basement studio. Here's one:

 
faith
singing sweet
lyrics, saying LOVE
shouting
happiness
holding wishes
against their chests
and hope
in their
hands
 

Anyway, I can't throw any of it away.

All of  those scraps of paper are mine-- I love them. I would bring them all inside. They're safe, protected in portfolios. I'm keeping them for who knows what, but I made them. I could never throw them away.

Sometimes I realize that I am a scrap of paper in the hands of my maker. But I am exquisite paper-- quality stuff. He has mixed the most perfect colors in me. He put me together with intent, with purpose, and He never planned to throw me into the scrap heap, even at my lowest. Because I was always His.

Let no debt remain outstanding except the debt to love. Every one of us is His perfectly crafted piece of art. A holy expression of His joy, His beauty, His faithfulness, His generosity and sweetness. What if we began to see ourselves as a beloved, cherished piece of original artwork? What if I saw you as His prize?

Right now, some friends of mine are waking up in the holy land-- yesterday, my dear friend Toni told me in a message that she was undone to be walking where He walked and my heart nearly explodes with the YES of what she is feeling-- to be where He physically chose to live on earth is like nothing...nothing is like it. It is holy. Sacred.

And to think, He physically knit me together. He has touched me-- His own hands formed me, and formed you. He's calling us back-- the artist is calling us back. It is holy. Sacred.

You are wholly loved. Sacred. His own.

Let no debt remain outstanding, save the debt to love who He loves. To treasure what He treasures. Who He treasures.