Valentine’s Day: The Far Journey of Our Lives

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Today is the birthday of my niece, Hannah, who passed away from leukemia several years ago. I wrote about Hannah in my book, The Gospel of John: When Love Comes to Town. There I quote from Karl Barth, who said:

“God shows Himself to be the great and true God in the fact that He can and will let His grace bear this cost, that He is capable and willing and ready for this condescension, this act of extravagance, this far journey. What marks out God above all false gods is that they are not capable and ready for this. In their otherworldliness and supernaturalness and otherness, etc., the gods are a reflection of the human pride which will not unbend, which will not stoop to that which is beneath it. God is not proud. In His high majesty He is humble. It is in this high humility that He speaks and acts as the God who reconciles the world to Himself.” (Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics: The Doctrine of Reconciliation 4/1, ed. G. W. Bromiley and T. F. Torrance {Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1956}, p. 159.)

I go on to say,

“It’s not only extraordinary theologians who get at this act of extravagance. Ordinary people living extraordinary lives get at it as well, living out the far journey close to home: sick kids caring for others, single moms working for their kids rather than partying to get their kicks, stay-at home dads staying home for their kids and corporate people choosing corporate solidarity with the people rather than the corporate climb. They do this because they see themselves as participants in God’s far journey through his Son.” (The Gospel of John: When Love Comes to Town {Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2010}, p. 222).

Even when battling with cancer, Hannah continued to care for others in their sickness, bearing witness to God’s light in dark places. The memory of her life brings the light of witness home to me today. May we all experience and bear witness to God’s far journey of humble love today.

About Paul Louis Metzger

Dr. Paul Louis Metzger is the Founder and Director of The Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins and Professor at Multnomah Biblical Seminary/Multnomah University. He is the author of numerous works, including "Connecting Christ: How to Discuss Jesus in a World of Diverse Paths" and "Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church." These volumes and his others can be found wherever fine books are sold.

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  • Paul Louis Metzger

    A friend of mine requested that I share this comment in an anonymous manner:

    “Paul: I read your post after returning from the home of a Hospice patient whose primary caregiver is his son-in-law. The patient’s daughter would normally attend to those duties, except that she is in a city some distance from here undergoing radiation therapy in hopes of prolonging her battle against cancer. Before we left, we asked the caregiver, the husband/son-in-law, if there was anything else he needed. He allowed that his only unmet desire was a brief respite to travel to see his wife sometime in the near future. After that encounter, and having read your post on the ministry in Hannah’s life, I find myself remembering that God’s acts of love are not limited to Creation and the Atonement. His faithfulness of provision, protection, and simple presence on a day by day, moment by moment basis, were reflected to me in the simple faith of a man who closed our conversation this morning with, ‘I know it will all work out somehow.’ On the basis of that trust alone, on this Valentine’s Day, he continues to serve his wife at a painful distance, and his father-in-law in a difficult intimacy. And so, I pray that the Lord who chose intimacy with us, despite the necessary distance from His Father, blesses this man most fully.”

    Thank you, Friend. I am impacted by the language of “a difficult intimacy.” Such love.