“He brought me to His banqueting table, And His banner over me was love.” Song of Songs 2:4
We just bought a home in Idaho and I’ve been gathering household items to bring since there aren’t many big stores in that area. Not knowing what the former owner would leave, I bought some cute Target towels to bring with me, just in case. But I did browse the high-end stuff at Bloomingdale’s at Valley Fair just to dream. Abyss towels felt out of this world but they cost some crazy amount like $100 a towel. I took a picture of them, that’s all.
When we moved into the house, we discovered the former owner had outfitted each bedroom with lovely bedding and the bathroom with, you guessed it, Abyss towels. I wanted to cry.
You wouldn’t believe that towels could be the catalyst for a spiritual experience, but stay with me. Do you sometimes get the impression that God, yes God Almighty, actually gets a kick out of blessing you? It’s almost like you could look across the room and catch Him just smiling at you, waiting for that look of delight and wonder.
One quiet morning in the new house I was sitting with my Bible and coffee and just gazing out the window. Normally, the hundreds of aspens in my view would merely blend into a dull kind of gray, but in the quiet of this particular morning, each tree seemed to stand out individually. I held the beauty of them. A black and white magpie darted through the trees. Geese honked overhead as they divebombed the river. The silvery light cascaded through the cottony flowers of the aspens. The entire scene took my breath away, and in the moment, I actually felt loved. Again, it was as if I could look across the room and catch Him watching me, seeing if I found delight in His gifts. Both of these moments—the towels and the morning view of aspens– felt extravagant.
It’s interesting that the definition of extravagant reflects a negative perspective: “exceeding what is reasonable or appropriate,” “lacking in moderation, balance and restraint,” and “over the top.” But sometimes “over the top” is wonderful. Sometimes we pray that God would connect with us in an unrestrained way. We scour the old stories for new sprouts of truth and life. We look for His face in common events.
And that’s what happened for me that beautiful silver morning when the first song on my Sonos playlist was a Casting Crowns song, “Your Love is Extravagant.” The harmonies are spectacular but the lyrics just wrecked me: “Your love is extravagant, Your friendship, it is intimate. Spread wide in the arms of Christ, is the love that covers sin. No greater love have I ever known than You considered me a friend.” The fact that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners is extravagant, over the top, love. How He made us to relish beauty and to connect with nature in a spiritual and sensuous way totally lacks moderation. The way God inspires people we don’t even know to give gifts we couldn’t give ourselves, truly exceeds reason.
God gives good gifts to us: beauty when our hearts ache for inspiration, nature moving in a complex system with cohesion releasing peace to our tech weary eyes. He offers avenues of protection, channels of provision, streams in a desert. Recklessly, He throws reason aside and loves unconditionally. Like a lottery winner we can’t believe our good fortune that God, yes God, Almighty loves us, extravagantly.
Have you recognized the love of God in your life recently? This week, scan the landscape for ways that God is smiling at you. Steal moments from a busy world to gaze upon beauty, walk in nature, be still, and be at peace. Let Him love you!
Do you know someone who could use some inspiration in life right now? Share this blog or gift my book, Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion. Go to www.MargaretAllen.org for “Mondays with Margaret” and other resources.