There is a poem by John Donne called ‘Batter My Heart’ which speaks about Donne’s experience of knowing and believing in God, but being tied to an enemy that he cannot break away from. As Donne finds himself feeling like a “usurped town to another due” he cries out saying “except you enthral me, never shall be free,/Nor ever chaste except you ravish me.” Donne speaks as if to a lover, the desperate tone of the poem conveying the pain he feels at the separation between him and Christ. Though I studied this poem as part of my English A Level, I didn’t fully acknowledge the significance of it in my own life until I began to think about writing this post.
I have been very lucky to grow up in a fantastic Christian family. At home I was given an excellent earthly example of love through my parents, my three sisters and countless other friends and family. Though I wouldn’t say that my belief in Jesus as my saviour has ever wavered, there have been periods of my life where I wanted desperately to live a life that I knew was very different from the ideal that God had for me. As I sought satisfaction in other things, I found that far from feeling freed by them I was captured by something that provided me with more anxiety than happiness. There have been waves of this throughout my life and one of these led to a realisation at the end of my first year at Oxford, that though I’d had a fantastic time and had been going to church and thinking that I was keeping up a fairly steady relationship with God, I wasn’t really praying that much, had very little desire to read my Bible and felt pretty far from any intimacy with God.
A year ago I was given a picture of myself being dressed by angels in the temple of the Lord (described in Exodus). This image was completely overwhelming at the time as I realised I was being presented as a bride to Christ. He was my beloved and I was his and yet it was this knowledge that God chose me and wanted to spend eternity with me that I had been running away from, as I found I didn’t really want to fully commit. But running wasn’t getting me anywhere and over the summer, as I travelled with another Christian friend we began praying that I would become increasingly excited by God's word and grow in my relationship with him.
For my birthday present the same friend bought me a Bible and ever since it arrived I’ve been craving time with God like never before. The more I read his word the more I learn about him and how much he loves me and how unbelievably exciting it is to trust in him. As I am slowly teaching myself to give more and more of my life over, I keep finding new levels of his love and blessings in my life and in those of the people around me. Paul writes to the church in Ephesus (Ephesians 3 v 17-21) “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
This is the greatest love I have ever known and I cannot encourage you enough to give over everything you have to be made a brand spanking new creation. Words cannot describe how freeing this adventure is proving to be.