I’m not the slightest bit sentimental, nor interested in keeping up with any fashionable Internet obsessions, but I have to admit I may be enjoying, along with the rest of the world, the current phenomenon of viral videos. At least, certain types of them. I don’t troll, but they seem to cross my path, nonetheless. These crazy little bits of pop-culture fluff have wound themselves onto the front of our attention. What started as tabloid fodder now enjoys the closing moments of showcase even in respected newscasts! Some bright boy got the idea it would lighten the mood, and he wasn’t wrong. Every day there’s a fresh offering of some endearing pet, utterly adorable toddler exploit or milk-of-human-kindness inspiration to pull the strings of our heart or make us laugh good and hard for a blissful minute. I’m still recovering from the ‘leaping baby goats’ video. What’s your favorite?
It’s worth a moment to consider why these scant trivialities have become so phenomenally popular that you can actually reference them with a phrase and at least five people in the room will know what you’re talking about. Perhaps one answer is that they are sound-bites of everyday life, captured at ground-level by ordinary people. There’s something unspeakably engaging about that. A lot are staged, of course, but many were captured simply for the pleasure of the possessor, and shared with the rest of us. The world has become such a freak-show of out-of-control elements in politics, technology, climate and cultural change that it’s simply too fierce to grasp. In order to hold on to hope, we’ve come back down to grass-roots, peering in the window of conventional lives, sifting through the familiar patterns of average Janes and Joes for the pearls of the extraordinary nestled among the mundane. The miraculous thing is that they can still be found. These little sweetlings take us home again.
In an existence that lacerates us daily on it’s sharp, unrelenting industrial edges, we long for the lush textures of real, human contact. It’s a need that’s not going away, though many are unwittingly trying to starve it to death. For an unguarded instant, from the sterilized, second-hand distance of a virtual window, our emotion actually thaws out. A second of unvarnished, authentic viscera can confound us with its sweetness. Someone or something loving with shining simplicity makes us believe again.
Although there’s a whole generation looking to the Internet to gratify their emotional and instinctual needs, the Bible is the true touchstone for the passionate landscape of being human. The ignorant call it pure hell-fire and brimstone, but those are not the only incendiary substances found in Scripture. Love, devotion, passion, lust, anger, malice and hubris abound. It’s full of graphic content, but it also holds great sweetlings; examples of fervent reaction and response that turn a mirror on our own psyches. Remember when the prophet Nathan went to rebuke the adulterous David (2 Samuel 12), by telling him a story of the little ewe lamb, indulged as one of the family? Caleb and his dotage with his precocious daughter Achsah (Joshua 15:15-19) is hilariously precious. The tender patience and unfailing belief of the prodigal’s father can hardly be captured with words (Luke 15:11-32). When Mary broke the alabaster jar and poured out the perfume on Jesus, others were either outraged or embarrassed by her actions, but Jesus alone recognized her outpouring for what it was – pure love (John 12). And on and on it goes.
We hardly ever talk about so-called, old-fashioned virtues like faithfulness, constancy, devotion or steadfastness anymore. To cherish our faith or families or treasure our relationship with God in piety seems ridiculously outmoded. It’s certainly not the hot-button topic. Lots of times, these expressions are blatantly scorned. Somehow, as adults, we’ve assimilated the idea that as we age, we must wean ourselves off vulnerability, intimacy and open-hearted sincerity. We strive to become less high-maintenance, more independent. Nothing could be further from the truth. As the bitterness of life beats down upon us, authentic expressions of attached devotion become more critical. Experience can atrophy your heart, so you have to keep pouring it out to keep the flow going. We’re so pathetically stingy with our honest feeling. Would it kill us to let down our guard for a nanosecond?
Maybe we just need to man up and admit to our unfailing need for daily, outrageous doses of love, affection and affirmation. That’s where Abba re-enters the timeless frame. How desperately we need to crawl up into the doting lap of our heavenly Father every day, and feel the warmth of His fond gaze upon us. We must have the focused, intense energy of unconditional love; the fuel for our internal fires. We’re all just vulnerable children, eager for intimacy and affirmation. Without this daily dose of sweetness, we gravitate to unhealthy counterfeits; addiction, compulsive-obsessive behavior, destructive relationships.
Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, And all the remnant of the house of Israel, Who have been upheld by Me from ]birth, Who have been carried from the womb: Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you. Isaiah 46:3-4 NKJV
It’s not enough to simply Hallmark card our emotions – our hearts need to be shaken at a primordial level. Deep must call unto deep. Nowhere can that call be returned with the ardor it requires than as we turn our faces and voices up to God. You are Abba’s sweetling. You are the object of His dying affection and eternal regard. You always will be. Don’t let it be more complicated than it really is. Jesus died so you could burst right into the throne room and throw yourself up on the bosom of the Father…any time you want to.
…he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. Zechariah 2:8 NKJV
cb image by Bing