Introductory Note:

Michael Card spent nearly a decade exploring the layers of meaning in the Hebrew word hesed. One aspect of hesed that Card uncovers is the vulnerability that God willingly takes on in order to share his life with us. This feels particularly relevant as we consider the birth of Christ. What incredible vulnerability! In this excerpt from Card’s book Indescribable, I was moved by the idea that God “hopes that our response to his hesed will be an infinitely smaller, yet still indescribable, expression of our own hesed.” This idea is something to ponder as we open our lives to others, becoming vulnerable by extending mercy, presence, and blessing “with no strings attached.”

Renovaré Team

Excerpt from Inexpressible

The Bible reveals the God of hesed, who has opened the door of his life to you and me. Though we are respon­si­ble for the death of his only Son and have, in effect, cursed him, he cov­ered us with his body, his blood, and saved us long before we might have accept­ed him. We have no right to expect any­thing from him, the Holy One. Yet he has extend­ed him­self to us, has invit­ed us to enter his world, has made our sto­ry a part of his sto­ry, has opened his life to the inevitable pos­si­bil­i­ty of being hurt, dis­ap­point­ed, and wound­ed by you and me. 

The sto­ry is repeat­ed again and again in Scrip­ture. God invites Adam and Eve into his life, only to be wound­ed by their will­ing­ness to believe Satan over him. He extends him­self to the Israelites, to Moses, and to David, only to be reject­ed, to be hurt by their stub­born dis­be­lief. How long will these peo­ple despise me?” God whis­pers to Moses in Num­bers 14:11. What fault did your fathers find in me?” he laments in Jere­mi­ah 2:5. Ulti­mate­ly, in Jesus of Nazareth he extends him­self, per­son­al­ly and inti­mate­ly, calls us friends, is vul­ner­a­ble, only to be wound­ed, aban­doned, and cru­ci­fied, when at any moment he might have dis­ap­peared over the hill into the vast hid­ing place of the Judean desert. 

Though we had no right to expect any­thing from him, he freely gave us every­thing. At the heart of this relent­less and extrav­a­gant act of God him­self, cen­tral to the inde­scrib­able mys­tery of the open­ing of the door of his life, is the Hebrew word hesed. When God defin­i­tive­ly reveals him­self to Moses, the word is twice upon his lips. When he reach­es out to David, it is the word on which their rela­tion­ship and David’s throne rest. The psalmists sing about it. The prophets lament its frag­ile­ness in us. And God him­self hopes that our response to his hesed will be an infi­nite­ly small­er, yet still inde­scrib­able, expres­sion of our own hesed. Jesus will expand on it in his para­bles and incar­nate it in his own life. 

This small three-let­ter word, חסד, seems to always be there when the door is open from one life to anoth­er, when the unex­pect­ed and unde­served gift of one’s life is offered with no strings attached, when inex­press­ible acts of adop­tion, for­give­ness, and courage occur that leave us speechless.

Tak­en from Inex­press­ible by Michael Card. Copy­right © 2018 by Michael Card. Pub­lished by Inter­Var­si­ty Press, Down­ers Grove, IL. www​.ivpress​.com

Text First Published December 2018 · Last Featured on Renovare.org December 2021

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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