Monday, March 23, 2015

LOVE....the hardest thing

So many thoughts swirl in my head this morning.

~I need potatoes, bread, and a few other essentials from the store.
~There is a friend's birthday this week that I cannot forget!
~Wash the load of laundry that has been sitting in the washer all weekend.
~There are several hand written notes that need to be finished today.
~We have soccer and ballet tonight.
~Water the indoor plants.

~Why is LOVE so hard?  Impossible even.

Last night I sat in a room full of precious and typical 8th-12th grade girls.

I wish I could say that there was rousing conversation.

Truthfully the room was unusually quiet.

Our topic was LOVE.

Not the love we like to talk about for hours. 

It was God's version of love.

Hard stuff.

We cracked open 1 Corinthians 13 and began listening to God's instructions to us about how we show love.

The list is flat out impossible.

Patient.  Kind. Not proud, boastful, or rude.  Keeps no record of wrongs.  Does not demand its own way. It is not irritable.

These are just a few of the characteristics of God's version of love.

Honestly....I don't make it past patient. 

God's love for us is such a gift. 
I doubt many of us really fathom the depth of it.  I know I don't.

On my worst most wicked day~ HE is crazy about me. He is for me. His thoughts toward me out number the grains of sand on all the beaches in all the world.

How on earth can we comprehend such love? 

But our comprehension or lack thereof doesn't change the truth of it.  He loves us.  Mind-blowing crazy loves us.

We could talk of this all day long.  Am I right?

It's what He asks of us that makes us hugely uncomfortable. 

Silence hangs in the air because not only can we NOT do it on our own.  We don't even WANT to do it.

Listen to the words of Luke.  He is challenging us to be so utterly different from those around us. The world would be in awe if we really lived this out....

"But if you are willing  to listen, I say, love your enemies.  Do good to those who hate you.  Pray for the happiness of those who curse you.  Pray for those who hurt you.  If someone slaps you on the cheek, turn the other cheek.  If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.  Give what you have to anyone who asks you for it; and when things are taken away from you, don't try to get them back.  Do for others as you would like them to do for you.
Do you think you deserve credit merely for loving those who love you?  Even the sinners do that!  And if you do good only to those who do good to you, is that so wonderful?  Even sinners do that much!  And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, what good is that?  Even sinners will lend to their own kind for a full return. 
Love your enemies!  Do good to them!" (Luke 6:27-35)

This is essentially the gospel.

Jesus loved me when I was his enemy.
He did good for me.
He gave his life. 
He knew I could never repay him.

This flies in the very face of our pride. 

I want to make out a list of all of my exceptions to this rule. But God doesn't grant exceptions.

Hanging on to my grudges and bitterness makes me feel validated. 

But it also diminishes my capacity to love and make any kind of difference for Jesus Christ.

So what do I want more???

I must choose.

Do I want validation or do I want to love?

Some days I choose the former and I regret the outcome.  I become one raw irritated nerve that no one wants to be around.  But the days that I choose the latter....there are never any regrets. 

It is hard.  So very hard. But right.

Love is the greatest (and hardest) thing.

My middle little turned 10 years old last week.  I am well aware of the years that lay ahead of her.  Middle and high school can be brutal.  Girls haven't stopped being mean and I remember it well. 

However if she can KNOW the depth of God's love for her....

Then loving others is a real possibility.

I pray she is far ahead of where I was at her age.

If someone was mean to me...I was mean back.
If someone talked bad about me....I couldn't wait to return the favor.

What if I had been different?

Who knows?

Although I think she is the prettiest 10 year old I know....I want her to be pretty on the inside. 

That, my friends, takes A LOT of character building.

Think about what built your character the most. 

For was the hard lessons. 

Being left out made me understand rejection.  Getting hurt helped me gain compassion.  Walking alone helped me appreciate real friends.

I don't want her to suffer rejection, pain, loss, betrayal, and meanness.  But I do want her to be kind, compassionate, grateful and generous. 

She may have to feel the sting of pain to gain what I cannot teach her. 

God help me to love others.  Especially my enemies.  To do good to those who hate me.  To pray for those who curse me.  To turn the cheek that has been slapped and offer the other as well.

This is love.  It speaks when nothing else will. 

She will learn  by watching what I do and how I live.  Not what I say...

Oh God ~ help me.

Friday, March 6, 2015


This past week a word from my devotion book took root and hasn't eased up yet.

The word is CONTRAST.

The scripture read like this, "Eli's sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the Lord...
By contrast, the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with men." 1 Samuel 2:12, 26

Let me give you a few visuals of contrast.

These are pretty self explanatory. 

But God has spoken this concept over me in a fresh way this week.

I am not sure there is a greater contrast in the life of a believer than ~love~.

Loving is easy when someone is lovable.

The world does that.

Loving is easy when everything is going your way.

The world does that.

Loving is easy as long as everyone agrees.

The world does that.

Loving is easy as long as things seem fair.

The world does that.

Now let's take this to the CONTRAST level.

Love when you are hated.
Love when you are misunderstood.
Love when you are rejected.
Love when you have been mistreated.
Love when you have been betrayed.
Love when you are angry.
Love when you have been exposed and abused.

Love hung on a cross.  Naked. Exposed. Betrayed. Misunderstood. Rejected. Beaten.

He was the contrast to His culture.

We are called to be the same thing.

Distinguishably different.  Marked by love.  Not easy love. But hard love.  Ugly.  Honest. Sacrificial. Exposed. Unnoticed.

I want so badly to please Jesus with my life.

But this concept leaves me cold sometimes.

I don't mind God asking me to have faith and hope. 
I understand that grace, mercy and forgiveness have to be given and received. 

But love?

Love seems so personal.  Love seems too valuable to just throw it out there on people who don't seem to want it or even appreciate it.
Love is precious.  Reserved for those most dear to me.
Love awakens to me to care and see folks as God sees them.

So basically the most important trait to making a difference in this world for Jesus is the one trait I resist. 

Not just resist.
I rebel from it.

It infuriates me to love the people that I deem unworthy.

So I am actually not being a contrast at all.

I just keep doing the easy thing.

Loving those that are easy to love.

The conviction of God gently revealed this to me.  I was so shamed at how I am more like the world than I want to admit.  I can boast about faith in God all day long.  I can talk about ministering to people on mission trips and through my volunteering...but when love for difficult people is absent.....I am just like every one else.

O God help me be distinguishably different.  A stand out for your cause.  Love brought you to this world.  Love took you to the cross.  Love raised you from the dead.  Love is the basis for all you do.  Make me like you Lord.  Change my heart. 

Corinthians » 1 corinthians 13.1-7