Friday, February 26, 2010

But, What Does That Look Like?

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the
candle or the mirror that reflects it.
-Edith Wharton

Please excuse me for a moment while I do a short review (as much for myself as for anyone who might be stopping by) of where God has taken me so far this year.
  1. God has much that He wants to teach me about love in 2010.
  2. My first lesson was that I am not capable of loving like God love.
  3. Next came the discovery that in spite of #2 God wants to love the "hard to love" through me.

I think I have it - I don't always like it - but I think I'm making some progress! Or am I? I tend to be a visual learner. So, I often find myself asking the question: What does that look like? I know that loving those who don't love me back is difficult, stressful, and trying. But that's how it makes me feel. I need to know how I am supposed to live it out on a daily basis. And so I have been praying.

Then "Jesus replied, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind.'" Matthew 22:37 Hmm... Well, I have a pretty good idea of what that looks like. Reading His Word tells me was pleases Him and spending time in prayer gives me more specific direction for each day.

But what do I do when the person or people I'm loving hurt me, insult me, or ignore me? That is when I must follow Jesus' example and love sacrificially. I discovered that the heart of this lesson is that love, grace, and forgiveness go hand-in-hand. God is asking me, asking each of us, to reflect His love to us onto those around us. His love is full of grace and forgiveness. Sometimes that makes me look like a big mirror, sometimes a lone candle. But it always looks like me...on my knees.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Stop this Love Bus, I want to get off!

This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and
sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
I John 4:10

Ok, I get it. Really, I do get it! I cannot not love the way God loves! I do believe I have fully learned that lesson. God, is it possible for us to move on now?

But the Holy Spirit whispers, once again, to my spirit, "Kathi, there's a part B to this lesson." Yikes! Part A has nearly killed me! (Deep breath and a gulp.) "Lord, I do want to learn. Help me to learn this lesson now so I don't have to repeat the course!"

Don't get me wrong I suspect that we all have those in our lives who are challenging to love. They are the people who just are not, or maybe cannot, go away. So, we pray and grit our teeth and try to make ourselves available so that God can love them through us. But every now and then we go through seasons where we feel like God has added 5,000 to those one or two who are always there!

And the Holy Spirit says, "I've had a lot of practice in this area, will you allow me to love these through you?"

"But can't you just love them, Lord, and leave me out of it?"

"Yes, I can. But I would rather do it through you."

"Oh. Thanks."

"I'll do it through you, if you allow me. The decision is yours."

These lessons on love are a lot harder than I thought they would be! I was looking forward to a year of warm and fuzzy. But God always wants to take us deeper.

This is what the missionary, Amy Carmichael, had to say about this kind of love in her book, If, What Do I Know of Calvary Love? "The way of love is never an easy way. If our hearts be set on walking in that way we must be prepared to suffer. 'It was the way the Master went; should not the servent tread it still?' It is possible that we may be enclosed in circumstances which drain natural love, till we feel as dry as grass on an Indian hillside under a burning sun."

With eyes open wide, each of us must decide for ourselves if we really want to love like God loves.