Saturday, January 30, 2010

Not Enough

"If in dealing with one who does not respond, I weary of the strain, and slip from under the burden then I know nothing of Calvary love."
Amy Carmichael

Given my tendency to tackle challenges head-on, as soon as God revealed His focus for my life this year, my first thought was, "Ok, where do I start? Let's get going!" And I proceeded to busy myself looking for the "logical" place to begin to explore the deeper, self-sacrificing love that God showed me through His Son.

However, it wasn't long before the Holy Spirit whispered,, I think this time He shouted, "Kathi, I will show you were to begin!" It was then I discovered that before I could even begin to learn anything of real substance about the kind of love God is calling me to I have come face-to-face with the fact that I do not, can not love...enough.

I must confess that this is not a lesson I thought I needed to learn! You see, I am a "touchy, feely" kind of person who loves (pun intended) and enjoys giving both love and grace. I thought I had the whole loving the unloveable covered. Let's move on to the next lesson! But God said, "Let's put that to the test." Keep in mind that when God tests us it is not for Him to learn more about us but rather to teach us more about - us.

Over the past two weeks I have been confronted by person after person, situation after situation where I cannot remain neutral. I must choose to love or not, there is no middle ground. And if I choose to love I know at the outset that I have no realistic expectation to be loved in return. My heart says, "I want to love, that is part of who I am." My head says, "I feel like I'm getting beat up. Why would I love when I get only pain in return?" The answer to this question is less about us and more about Jesus. And reconciling this dilemna is the foundational challenge that I, in fact all of us at one time or another must tackle if we truly desire to learn more about love.

So, before I can move on to other lessons I must come to the undeniable realization that, without Christ, my love is simply...not enough.
Dare we move on to the next lesson?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

...and the theme for this year is...

"You've heard it said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate you enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use and persecute. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?" Jesus in Matthew 5: 43-44, 46 NKJV

For several years God has given me a theme for each new year. Last year's theme was focus and refocus. This year God didn't waste any time. On New Year's Day He clearly communicated to me that I am to focus on love. Love...hmm...this is going to be fun! After all, I have a wonderfully loving relationship with my husband who is my best friend, I am crazy in love with my son and daughter-in-love, I have the unspeakable joy of sharing God's love in ministry around the world, I also have the privilege of speaking love into the lives of couples who have lost babies, I love being a part of bringing new life into the world through working in Labor and Delivery, and I am a part of an incredibly loving church family! Bring it on!

But it didn't take long to discover that the love God is calling me to this year is a deeper love. Our society has a way of taking life issues like this and wrapping them in pretty packages so that we can sit in our comfortable living rooms and say, "Ah, isn't that sweet!" We are just two weeks into 2010 and already God has moved me beyond warm, fuzzy feelings to something deeper. In a sense it even goes beyond romantic love, although that certainly can be a component of it.

No,this is a dangerous love. This is sacrificial love. This is the kind of love Jesus had as He hung on the cross. The missionary, Amy Carmichael, called it Calvary Love. I like to refer to it as illogical love. In short, God is asking me, asking us, to love those who can't or won't love us back.

Now, it just so happens that I have a blog! So, I invite you to climb aboard and take this journey to love with me. However, if you dare join me I think it's only fair to warn you to buckle your seat belt. I think this is going to be a wonderfully bumpy ride!