Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Perfect Lover: How Reading a Vampire Book Brought Me Closer to Jesus - Unconditional Love (Part 2)

(click for previous chapter: Unconditional Love, part 1)

Why is the question to help us understand the unconditional nature of this love. Why did Jesus choose to suffer so much? Why did Edward choose to suffer so much?

Because, in both cases, his father asked him to.

When Edward explains to Bella more about his perspective on the first day, he said, “When you walked past me, I could have ruined everything Carlisle has built for us, right then and there. If I hadn’t been denying my thirst for the last, well, too many years, I wouldn’t have been able to stop myself.” (Twilight, pg. 269)

This is not the only time Edward defers to Carlisle as explanation for his actions. Edward has such a close relationship to Carlisle, his father in vampire terms, that he measures decisions through the filter of Carlisle’s character, sort of a What Would Carlisle Do kind of thing. At Edward’s darkest moment, he kept focus on his father’s feelings, values, compassion, and will. After spending time in Alaska, Edward comes home to face the situation with Bella partly so that he can remain with his family. Carlisle’s influence consistently shows up in Edward’s actions, evident and highlighted in New Moon by the ultimate skeptic, the head of the vampire empire. Aro says, “You [Edward] remind me of him [Carlisle] –“ (New Moon, pg. 471).

At the beginning of Twilight, Edward knew Carlisle would not want him to kill Bella under any circumstances. That, in part, persuaded him. Because of that, he willingly took on the suffering. Choosing to serve Carlisle this way opened the door for Edward to love Bella.

Jesus states His reasons clearly as He prays to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane right before heading to the cross… to die. “But not My will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

Relationship. Choice. Service. The cycle of unconditional love.

This is what it looks like: absolute abandon by someone who forgives every sin, overlooks and/or makes up for every weakness or shortcoming and doesn’t hold a grudge, doesn’t condemn mistakes.

Sound good?

Once he’s decided on this path, Edward displays it throughout the entire saga.

Here’s an example.

Bella has selective hearing. She has a filter in her brain transforming everything Edward says into a language her pre-existing point of view understands. We already know she’s self-sufficient, independent, smart, and in a suffer-in-silence way, proud of it. When they do the experiment in Biology together, she wants to check his work, which amuses Edward but for reasons he cannot reveal at that point. She is not only checking his work, but somehow checking him out, a first test on whether or not she can trust him, especially after his behavior on the first day. It’s a baby step.

Other steps she is not so willing to take. For instance, his driving scares her. Riding on his back when he runs at super-human speed scares her. Even though he keeps saying she shouldn’t be afraid of those aspects of his character, she begs him to see it her way and act accordingly.

On blood-typing day (Twilight, chapter 5), he’s shocked when she listens to his warning to get out of the nurse’s station when the other classmate comes in with a pricked finger. He marvels, “You actually listened to me.” (Twilight, pg. 100) Yes, but only because her point of view already registered the importance of getting out of the room. She didn’t need to know why he said it because she knew why she needed to leave. She was still operating on her own terms.

The ultimate example in Twilight creates the drama between James and Bella. Edward, and all the other Cullens for that matter, insist over and over that they are in no danger, she is, but not to worry about the outcome because they will protect her. But what does Bella do? She doesn’t listen! She takes matters into her own hands. Despite her good intentions, she still almost ruined everything because she didn’t trust enough. Even after all she knew about Edward, she still acted out of her own understanding.

Edward displays unconditional love for her despite this stubbornness on her part. Sure, he got frustrated, irritated, angry, afraid, but never did he say, “Never mind then. If this is how she is going to be, if she wants to get herself killed, if she wants to ignore my pleas…” None of that. He just kept pursuing. Kept intervening. Kept loving.

Let that sink in… then… picture Jesus doing the same for you.

How many times have you heard Jesus say, “Fear not,” only to spend the whole night worrying anyway? How many times have you taken matters into your own hands only to need Jesus to clean up the mess you caused? How many times have you relied on your own understanding only to have been duped, deceived, and led astray? How many times have you chosen the world over Him, only to be on your knees begging forgiveness moments later?

And when has Jesus ever said, “I’m done with you. That’s all I can take. If you won’t listen, if you won’t do what you’re told, if you won’t see that I love you…”?

I know the answer to this, for me and for everyone who has ever wondered.

He’s never said that. Ever.

He just keeps pursuing. Keeps intervening. Keeps loving.

More to come… How Reading a Vampire Book Brought Me Closer to Jesus and taught me a little about unyielding commitment… Friday. See you then!

(click for next chapter: Unyielding Commitment)


KM Wilsher said...

Nice! I loved remembering just how much Edward relies on Carslile and relating that to the relationship of the father and son.
I can't believe I relate to Bella in any way, but alas I do. Stubborn. Wary. Filtering God's voice thru the worlds.
Great post!
Love these.
Keeping my eye out for the next one!

lynnrush said...

Fantastic. I never thought of the filtering thing about Bella. So true. And then despite her not listening to her protectors, she goes on her own...Just like I do to Jesus. NICE.

Marilyn said...

I must admit that I'm a lot like Bella at times too...and it does tend to get me into trouble. How wonderful that Jesus doesn't give up and walk away because some of these times are when I need Him most!

Susanne Dietze said...

Insightful post, Lori. I love this series. I am so much like Bella in that I act on my own instead of believing Jesus really does care about me and what's important to me. Excellent reminder. Thank you so much!

Different subject: I'm trying to stay away from Forks until I get some work done, but it's so hard! It's not like I haven't read it already...