Ignoring His Love
But that is the beginning of a new story—the story of the gradual renewal of a man, the story of his gradual regeneration, of his passing from one world into another, of his initiation into a new unknown life.
– Fyodor Dostoevsky, closing words in the Epilogue to Crime and Punishment
There was once a young Russian woman, who loved a Russian man who didn’t deserve to be loved. He committed murder, bludgeoned an older woman to death—almost for the pleasure of it, for the sense of power it gave him—but the young woman still loved him. She thought her love might heal him and clean up his messed up life.
Astonishingly, he treated her with indifference and returned her love with scorn and ridicule. But this didn’t stop her from loving him.
When he was shipped off to Siberia to work as a prisoner in the mines, she boarded a train two days later and followed him. She rented a hotel outside the prison and got a job in the fields just to be near him.
With her meager earnings she baked him biscuits and brought them to the guards at the prison gates. When they delivered the biscuits to his cell however, he spat and cursed at them.
The other prisoners, whose families had abandoned them, scraped up the crumbs and admonished him for spurning such a faithful lover.
He didn’t listen. He didn’t see.
Years went by, and she made her weekly delivery to the guards, unaware her sacrifice of love was consistently repudiated.
When the time for his release finally came, there she stood, alone in the courtyard. Her scrawny, disheveled figure—much skinnier from working in the fields—held her one good hand out to him, beckoning him to come to her.
He looked up and saw, for the first time, what hitherto he had ignored. He noticed her love for him. They tried to speak but were unable to. There were tears in their eyes, and both of them looked pale and thin.
But in these ill, pale faces there now gleamed the dawn of a renewed future, a complete recovery to a new life.
God wants to give you new life. The God who loves you, who stands before you, who will never leave you nor forsake you, no matter how trying your circumstances: this God wants to give you the newness of life in the resurrected Christ.
Christians, we have this life. There is nothing further we need to do to receive this new life. But much like the Russian man earlier who didn’t realize his wife’s love, we forget about our newness of life. We worry that we are alone in life, completely unaware that the Lord is all around us. We resist his love, ignore his love, repulse his love: and this is our biggest sin.
You might say, ‘I don’t do that.’
Have you ever been afraid? Worried? Discouraged? But what do you have to fear? What do you have to worry about? How can you be discouraged? Only if you’re ignoring his love.
A witness is someone who’s seen something and tells somebody. When we worry, we can’t be a witness to this newness of life in the resurrected Christ. But when we are in wonder at what Jesus has done for us, we can.
Don’t ignore his love: wonder at it!