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Posts Tagged ‘Love’

I recently read a quietly deep, beautifully written novel called Some Wildflower In My Heart (Bethany House Publishers, 1998) by Jamie Langston Turner. The story is told by Margaret, a deeply wounded woman who has spent decades closed off to love, relationships, and especially God. She ensures distance from others by being cold and unapproachable. Yet In spite of her brusque demeanor, she finds herself the recipient of the persistently kind, friendly attentions of a woman named Birdie with an inexhaustible capacity for love.

In the real world, anyone behaving like Margaret is sure to go to their grave friendless. But because one woman’s love for Jesus flows like an underground spring and touches everyone she meets, there may be hope for Margaret.

I try to imagine myself being persistently gracious and kind to someone who continually rejects the kindness. I can’t really see it. Could you? Would anyone you know continue to show acceptance and grace to someone continually cold and unresponsive?

What’s intriguing about this story is that it is told in Margaret’s point of view. If I were only able to observe Margaret’s outward behavior, I wouldn’t be interested in her story. But her thoughts tell a very different tale. What Margaret is only telling the reader is that she was inexplicably drawn to this kind woman. And that drawing rattled her. She tells how Birdie’s gentle, persistent love eventually broke past Margaret’s cold shell and brought warmth to the painful, neglected places in her heart.

After reading about Birdie, the phrase “Love keeps no record of wrongs” keeps coming to mind. I wonder if I could be anything like her, always quick to forgive the thoughtless words or deeds of others. Why don’t I simply turn the other cheek when someone is thoughtless or unkind?

Maybe it’s an accounting mentality. We are wired to keep accounts of what others have done. This is so typically human, isn’t it?

Please tell me it’s not just me.

Love keeps no record of wrongs.

Would Jesus go to God and complain about me behind my back? Would he criticize me for the mistakes I make (which are…ahem…numerous)? Avoid me when he sees me coming?

No. And not because I don’t deserve it.

Love keeps no record of wrongs.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails . . . And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-13

Faith, Hope, Love.

The Bible says that without faith, it’s impossible to please God. And humans need hope in order to thrive. But according to this scripture, the greatest of all life’s needs is love. This kind of love. The selfless, unfailing, “unoffendable” kind.

Can I really love this way? I mean, is it possible?

Maybe it helps to remember that since I am in Christ, there’s no “tally sheet” or file being kept on me. God keeps no record of my sins. Because of Christ in me, when God looks at me, he sees no offense, harbors no grudges.

Perhaps likewise, because of Christ at work both in me (his life-changing power) and for me (clothing me in his righteousness), I too can look at others and forget their offenses. Hold nothing over their heads. Give them a new clean slate every day.

The love of Christ keeps no record of wrongs. With his help, we can do it. And it seems only fair, since this—the way of grace—is how God (thank you, Jesus!) deals with our offensiveness.

Just my thoughts. What are yours?

Q: Do you desire the kind of love that keeps no record of wrongs?

 

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I recently thumbed through a 10+ year old journal expecting to be entertained, if nothing else.

Good grief. IRS instructions are more riveting.

The pages were filled with tedious moping about all the things I longed to change about myself. On and on and on, like a broken record. Just skimming over that stuff now is depressing.

Journaling is healthy, of course. I’m all for it, especially when it comes to keeping track of answered prayer and God’s faithfulness—that’s important to remember. But some journaling, while good for getting gunk off your chest, is just self-centered, navel-gazing pathos (yeah, I know, it’s probably just mine). What I find sad about those years is how long I pined for change—to be a slimmer woman, a holier Christian, kinder mom, more pleasing wife, truer friend, etc. How sad that I clung to such a singular focus for so long, especially when the journals show no indication I ever arrived at the changes I so desperately sought.

At some point I quit journaling. Maybe I finally got fed up with the monotony of repeating myself and the despair of continual failure. Who has time or energy to change when you spend all your time in front of the mirror cataloguing all your flaws?

Actually, I think God finally lured me away from such a self-centered focus. I think he wanted me to stop believing lies about who I was supposed to be, and start making the most of what I have right now. Begin accepting who I am, cellulite and all. Embrace the gifts and interests and purposes God placed in me when he made me. ME, not some air-brushed, magazine cover girl.

I haven’t journaled in well over a decade now. Looking back, I can see many positive changes that have occurred over time. Quiet, lasting changes that came after I gave up trying to bully that unhappy woman into being someone else. Somewhere along the line, God gave me a truckload of patience. And grace. And a great peace in knowing that “he makes all things beautiful in its time.” (Ecc. 3:11)

Maybe it’s a Rapidly Nearing Five-O thing, but now I find the things I stressed about for so long don’t really matter all that much. What matters to me now is to live and love people today instead of putting it off. Listen more. Pray more. Care more about what Jesus thinks and less about what people think. See eternity in every moment. Live each day like a heaven-bound soul.

Q: What about you—have you ever needed to let go of some elusive longing in order to embrace life now?

 

 

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A Very Blessed Day

I’m taking my friend Beth’s advice and taking a little breather after all the buzz and revelry of the past week. But I did feel the need to give a brief recap of The Wedding.

 

I know I may sound slightly biased, but that was by far the loveliest wedding I’ve ever seen.

 

What an amazing day! It began with worship to the Lord, followed by food, friends, family, & fun.

The couple chose such a moving, perfectly fitting ceremony, and the whole evening flowed like clockwork (in spite of the passing train that caused a slight pause) reinforcing what so many of us have observed: that God is indeed in the midst of this marriage and these two joined lives.

Her dad & I are so proud of our daughter and her husband. And we are so grateful for all the many hands that helped make our day special, beautiful and so enjoyable!
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We are very grateful to the Lord for blessing this couple’s marriage right from the start with such a lovely wedding, grateful for sons & daughters who love Jesus, and for friends & family who love us. We are so incredibly blessed!

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Something Borrowed . . .

This is it.

The countdown of days to our daughter’s wedding is in the single-digits.

We couldn’t be happier for her, or more pleased with our soon-to-be son-in-law.  We’ve always prayed for our kids’ future mates as they were growing up – for God’s hand of direction, protection, and blessing on their lives, that they were growing up in the knowledge and admonition of the Lord.

When asked if we’re “happy” with our daughter’s choice, I tell people that though we made a very  l e n g t h y  list of everything we wanted in a husband for our daughter, he far exceeds the list. So that’s a resounding yes. We are proud of them both for committing to friendship before becoming an official “couple” and for deciding not to take dating lightly, but to wait until they felt certain they (and God) were serious about a possible future together.

Like all happy in-laws, we get to say we are not losing a daughter, but gaining an awesome son. But giving her hand in marriage, for us, holds special meaning.

Even before she was born, we knew God had his hand on her life. I shared the story of how God asked us to “give her to him” at a time when the pending birth of a daughter was supposed to be the answer to this mother’s prayers. We didn’t know why or what “giving her to” the Lord would look like. But watching her grow up into a beautiful woman with a heart for Jesus and the things of God reminds us that we’ve only had her on loan, “borrowed” for a time.

So her daddy will give her away in a few days, making the “giving her up” feel final. Complete. Knowing that both our daughter and her fiance take their commitment to Christ seriously has been a beautiful reminder that God has always had a special plan for our little girl. So we give her with faith and confidence that God is pleased.

We pray that as she and her husband begin their new life together, that they will continue the surrender that began before she was born, to say, “Your will, Lord, not ours,” and to continue to trust God’s guiding hand in their new life.

Q: What have you found most difficult to surrender?

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Last week, we looked at some ways we can know God loves us. For me, learning to trust in the unwavering love of Christ has been critical to my emotional and spiritual healing and maturity. Knowing God loves me gives me the hope and confidence I need to press on through various challenges. It also helps me accept correction and repent when I make mistakes.

Some people might see God’s unwavering love as an open invitation to complacency or sin. Maybe resting in the knowledge of God’s love isn’t everyone’s key to spiritual growth. But for me, it’s been a powerful catalyst for change.

If you’ve been anything like me—sorry!—maybe you’ve also needed to wrap your head and heart around the Father’s love. Maybe you needed to know this Father will never come home drunk and belligerent. He isn’t going to blindside you with a knuckle rap upside the head or cuss you out when you can’t figure out how to fix the lawnmower. He will never, ever humiliate you in front of strangers or verbally beat you down just to see you cry. He will never tire of family responsibilities and bail on you, move to another country, and send a postcard every five years to tell you about his new wife and kid and forget what grade you’re in.

No. God is a Father unlike any you’ve ever known, good or bad. And he loves us far more than we can possibly understand.

And yet, we’ve been challenged to try to understand.

The Apostle Paul prayed this prayer:

14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19

This prayer seems contradictory, doesn’t it? Paul asks the Father to empower us to know this love that is beyond knowing. He wants us to grasp it. Seize it with our hands. Put down roots in it. Be saturated with it.

Why is it so important to know and take hold of the immeasurable love of God?

To make us happy?

It may do that, but knowing I’m loved does far more than simply make me feel good. The assurance of God’s love gives me hope and strength. It renews, heals, and motivates. But best of all, it’s empowering.

To do what?

Anything God asks.

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  John 15

What do you need power to do?

 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

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