Life, Life, and More Life

I must admit this has been a hard week for me with Jayber Crow. It’s week 8 for the online study happening with Michele Morin, over at her site, Living Our Days. I so appreciate her hosting this group with lively discussion!  But what do I do with a character who charms me with his small-town stories and beautiful descriptions of nature, and yet at the same time saddens me with his variable moral compass? 

I think he must remind me of myself and those I love.
Why do we have such a hard time fully embracing the ONE who loves us so much?
Why do we so easily take up our own opinions as the best way to walk?

  

In this week’s chapters, Jayber took a deep look at himself, and found the scales wanting.  And from the depth of that conviction, a truer love than he could have imagined, for a woman forever inaccessible, was committed to inside of his heart.  And while that love could never be acted upon, it yet stirred in him a vision of the ONE true love from which all others in this world have been created:

 

 “But love, sooner or later, forces us out of time. It does not accept that limit. Of all that we feel and do, all the virtues and all the sins, love alone crowds us at last over the edge of the world. For love is always more than a little strange here. It is not explainable or even justifiable. It is itself the justifier. We do not make it. If it did not happen to us, we could not imagine it. It includes the world and time as a pregnant woman includes her child whose wrongs she will suffer and forgive. It is in the world but is not altogether of it. It is of eternity.”

Berry, Wendell. Jayber Crow: A Novel (Port William) (p. 249). Counterpoint. Kindle Edition. 

As he pondered that love, Jayber finally admitted to the love of a Creator who was beyond all of his own questions.  As he allowed that love in his heart to lead him, he saw God as not only the Creator, but also as a Father:


And I could imagine a Father who is yet like a mother hen spreading her wings before the storm or in the dusk before the dark night for the little ones of Port William to come in under, some of whom do, and some do not.

Berry, Wendell. Jayber Crow: A Novel (Port William) (p. 252). Counterpoint. Kindle Edition. 


And the great questions of Free-Will, held onto for years from his own younger days, were finally laid to rest in his heart:

 “Just as a good man would not coerce the love of his wife, God does not coerce the love of His human creatures, not for Himself or for the world or for one another. To allow that love to exist fully and freely, He must allow it not to exist at all. His love is suffering. It is our freedom and His sorrow. To love the world as much even as I could love it would be suffering also, for I would fail. And yet all the good I know is in this, that a man might so love this world that it would break his heart.”

Berry, Wendell. Jayber Crow: A Novel (Port William) (p. 254). Counterpoint. Kindle Edition.

But here is where my own heart fell onto a different path from Jayber.  While he was content to live with that love resting in his heart, holding onto it as his own private treasure, something entirely different is stirred within me when that ONE true love is recognized.  

What can I do with that sorrowing and suffering 
when I feel my Savior’s Love in me?

How can I watch those I love struggle in their own questions
and not reach out to them somehow?

For I know that what my Father offers 
through the suffering of His son
was for my benefit
was for their benefit
was for your benefit 

 “He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;”
Isaiah 53:3-5 

And my own heart was broken open this week
with convictions.
If I say that I am blessed to have tasted
this love of my beautiful Lord

 how then can my selfish heart
hoard it inside 
as a treasure only for myself?

And it was here that my Father, Creator of that Love,
stirred in my heart to look around me
to feel the pain of those next to me
to hear the silent cries
of those alone in their pain.

The Father has sent his Son,
to search for EVERY lost one,
calling out to EACH lonely child,
offering a way to come home.

“Still, it’s what God had in mind all along,
    to crush him with pain.
The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin
    so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life.
    And God’s plan will deeply prosper through him.

Isaiah 53:10 MSG 

Life, life, and more life
is what Jesus has come
to give us.

 How can I not also seek after those lost ones
offering the same life
calling to the same home
showing the same love
that He has given to me?

Would you join me in prayer this week?

“Dear Father,
I confess that my heart has not always been stirred to give. I admit that there have been times when I have been content to hoard away Your love, as a treasure all my own. Please forgive me for those moments when I’ve closed my eyes to those around me. Will You open my heart to see the beauty of those hearts around me? Will You open my heart to share Your love with those hurting and lonely souls? And will You give me Your JOY that loves to seek, loves to call out, and loves to bring life where only death has reigned? Will You change my eyes to look through Your eyes of love?
In the Name of Your Son, Jesus, I pray, Amen.”  

I would love to hear your comments and prayer requests below. We are meant to share the load together! 

I am linking this week with:
You can find a copy of Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry, by clicking here. 


13 thoughts on “Life, Life, and More Life

  1. Yes Bettie, you and me both had a rough week with Jayber! I also had a rough week with myself! Seeing things, thoughts, reactions to people in my mind/heart that are so out of line with the way God sees, and realizing I cannot change my own heart, only lift it up to Him. To you o LORD I lift up my soul… I felt like Jayber just took a moralistic vow without necessarily admitting his own helpless nature… but maybe that it my theological sieve filtering too much out! I did love that he seemed to be coming to terms with God's love for the world and its great cost… Isaiah 53 is so appropriate in this context! And I personally hold to the hope of transformation as I learn to believe and receive God's love and forgiveness as it is, no strings attached, no possibility of it being deserved or pay-backable. I'm glad we're in this reading together. Thanks for sharing your reactions!

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  2. Dear Linda, Oh, I am relieved that I was not the only one having a hard time with Jayber this week! But yes, God used my reading to bring conviction into my own heart as well. I think that any time we let ourselves truly look at the deep, deep love of our Lord we will be brought to our knees and a place of humbling. That great cost is too deep for us to comprehend. But oh! What a great HOPE He does bring to us in the forgiving and transforming, doesn't He? I am so glad that you are reading along with this study too! Your comments and thoughts are always so stirring to my heart! Blessings to you!

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  3. All of us struggling together! And that question: What do I do with this character? I find myself asking it of myself? I'm such a confusing bag of mixed motives. In Linda's post she made such a good point that Jayber's situation could have been resolved (theoretically) by marrying Clydie and pouring all that faithfulness into a true marriage. So simple, but then I look at some of the dilemmas that I hang on in my own walk and realize that they, too, are just a matter of delayed obedience or willful neglect.
    This discussion group has done such a good job plumbing the depths of Jayber's meanderings, and reading ahead, I think some of Berry's best writing is yet to come.
    Blessings to you, Bettie!

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  4. Dear Michele,
    Thank you for being such a great host and teacher, joining us all together, as we let God speak individually to each one of us! What a job you have undertaken!! (You are in my prayers too!) And, oh yes, I like this description: “a confusing bag of mixed motives,” that's where I fall so often too! I am so glad that the Lord uses all of these words that we read and share, to help point us back to Himself! Blessings to you too!

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  5. God bless you, dear, sweet friend! The thought that our dear Jesus was a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief has been of great comfort to me lately. He absolutely knows how we feel about all we experience in this life. Such a dear thought that of all the names and ways He could have referred to the precious Holy Spirit, He called Him the Comforter. Sending much love to you today!

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  6. Dear Bettie, there is much to ponder here! God's love leaves us breathless. We cannot fathom it or know its extent and depth. Such all consuming Holy Love is both marvel and mystery. Our broken humanity, fluctuating feelings and hurting hearts make it impossible for us to even begin to love like this, unless we ask God to love in and through us. Because it's only by the power of Holy Spirit that we can even come close to escaping our prison of pride and self-interest. I am convicted by the Bible verses you have shared and your beautiful prayer, that I say a hearty 'Amen!' to. So blessed by reading your powerful words today! Thank you for sharing your heart thoughts and the insights you have gained from reading this book. Blessings, love and hugs! xo 💜

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  7. Dear Cheryl,
    Oh what sweet comforts He gives to our aching hearts, doesn't He? Every day He is walking with us in these places of convictions, and in these trials. What a precious High Priest who has gone before us to intercede on our behalf. Thank you for sharing such sweet thoughts here today. May the Lord send you His comfort and love, dear friend! xoxo

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  8. Dear Joy,
    Oh yes what a true thought you've given here: “Because it's only by the power of Holy Spirit that we can even come close to escaping our prison of pride and self-interest.” He shines His light on those dark places in our hearts, because He is right there with His Spirit to bring the love that we so need. He does understand how weak we are to even partake of that love on our own. Thank you for sharing these uplifting and encouraging thoughts here, my dear friend! I am so thankful that we can share HIM together! Much Blessings, love, and hugs to you also! xo

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  9. Bettie, you have woven together a beautiful post. I haven't read the book, but have put it on my list. What a wonderful discussion – in your post and in the comment section. This has been a beautiful blessing to read today!

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  10. Dear Meg, Oh, yes, isn't the depth of our God's Grace so amazing? He continues reaching out to us, swimming though we are, and pulls us from the waters at just the right time! I am so glad you found encouragement here! Lov you sister! –And in case you saw a different reply here, a few minutes ago, I posted this using the wrong name the first time! Sorry! Too tired tonight! 🙂

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  11. Oh, thank you for stopping by, and your kind comments. I have been so grateful for the lovely comments and discussion that have arisen through this study. The Body of Christ, each of us, has so much blessing to share!

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