Deep love, Deep hurt

The past few months, the thought of a deeper love equaling deeper hurt, has been on my mind.  This is not to say that deeper love inevitably hurts, or that you shouldn’t be willing to love deep, but that when you are vulnerable to deeply love, that same vulnerability opens yourself to be feel much more pain if & when you are hurt by something or someone.

This happens to us as people, but it also intrigues me in our love relationship with God. “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)”And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”(1 John 4:16)

If God loved us THAT much, that He would give us His only son, that He would live in us, that God is synonymous with love in the way that if we love, we are in Him, that’s powerful.  That’s a deep love, that’s an amazing love. “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

So can you imagine with me then, that through God’s love for us, incomprehensibly deep & devoted, that when we hurt or when we turn from Him, either way….just think of how much He must hurt with us & for us. “In all their suffering he also suffered,…” (Isaiah 63:9) It says in the Bible how God suffers with us…and if the greater the love the greater the pain can be, I can only imagine that God suffers greatly over each & every one of us, longing for us to come near to Him, to dwell in Him, to be comforted by Him & to understand His love for us. He mourns with us, but doesn’t stay inactive…He comes after us.  Isaiah goes on to say “…and he personally rescued them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years.”

Through all the years….forever, ….loving us deeply, holding us in our pain, hurting for us when we walk away, His love never fades. “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.” (Lamentations 3:22)  This gives me hope, confidence & full assurance that when I hurt, I am not alone. It also reminds me that as much as I am able to love, He is able to love more fully, more completely, more intimately than I will ever understand, and that through our doubt, questioning, longing for answers, that He loves us still.  Be confident in this: “Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

A little something

I just found the following, hidden away in my documents folder….not sure when I wrote it, but I wanted to share it with you today.

Like little seeds planted in the ground, the seed must die for a new plant to grow! It’s like us….when we were ignorant to the grace of God, we lived for ourselves & though we may have done “good” in the eyes of the world, ultimately there was no purpose, no end goal that we could strive for, except for pleasure in ourselves & our works. Now, through the ultimate sacrifice of God’s death & divine miracle of His resurrection, we have a hope of something else. We have something to live for, someone who died for us, and now we can live a new life, dedicated to honoring Him for the gift he’s given us….freedom, forgiveness, faithfulness, fullness of life, a fearless way to live.
I want my earthly inheritance to be spent before it’s stockpiled…I hope to give it away, and to bless those who may never be encouraged to take a step of faith into a life they never dreamed of.  In Psalms 68, it talks about putting the lonely in families. Well, I’ve been given a family, but others have not. They are the lonely, and they can be part of our family…my family…God’s family. The love, care & provision that I have been blessed with all my life, can be someone else’s if you or I care enough to share it with them. Sharing not only the practical things like food, shelter, & water, but God’s blessings of love, acceptance, forgiveness & encouragement.

Wherever I go, whoever I become, this is the person I want to be: I want to be someone who serves others, who cares about the people who are rejected from society, who is involved with missions, who goes wherever I’m needed so I can meet a need, someone who seeks God first, who is unashamedly Christian, who gives all that I am to love on people, & listening at all times.

Training Camp of Character

This past week I photographed, watched and learned about the MN Vikings from a whole new perspective.  A friend met me there mid-week, and admitted that this was never something she would have chosen to attend herself.  I was glad to have her around though.  During the practices, she sat on the bleachers & I ran around taking photos.  One day as we walked away from the field, she mentioned something that has stuck with me the last few days.  She told me about sitting in the bleachers, watching the team practice, and listening to the crowds cheer & root for them.  They would praise the players who made a great catch, comment on the muscles someone had, cheer for a nice kick, etc…all encouraging the performance, abilities & physicality of a player.  My friend noted that it’s our society that praises these things, and that it’s pretty common to do, but wondered what it would be like to live in a society that praised not the accomplishments necessarily but the character of the person before us.

Wow. Praise someone’s character? That thought goes beyond winning or losing, but to the internal soul of what makes that person who they are, and the fruit that they are expressing.  “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13)  …encourage one another, there’s no group here, it seems pretty broad, it’s to be for everyone…and what are the things we should encourage each other about?  “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control….” (Galatians 5:22-23) These are the things that we should be praising….”Way to be gentle in that hard place”, “You have such joy about this”, “Your patience astounds me”, etc.  I’m getting excited just in writing this, to encourage someone today.

So what would it look like if we became a society that praised someone based on their character and not on their physical strength, skill or speed?  How would that change people, and how would it effect each of us?  Wouldn’t you be strengthened inside to continue doing good & making decisions that would please our Heavenly Father?  Let’s be encouraged now, and freely give encouragement to those in whom we see Christ working through their character. Let’s build each other up not only on our accomplishments but on who we are becoming through every situation & circumstance despite those accomplishments or failures. Let’s let this life we live be a training camp of character, with the goal of heaven to drive us, so when we break camp, we can stand before the Father in bold confidence that he who began a good work in us continued through the end.

A fork in the Road

Alright, I just HAD to share this story I read last night… An older man “the Sage” and a young boy were walking through the woods. These were woods that were WAY out in the middle of untouched land. They followed a footpath that had been worn down & when they were completely immersed in the woods, the path split into three directions. The two men stopped & wondered which way would take them to the waterfalls they were seeking. The Sage asked the boy which he would take, if only one would lead them to the falls. The boy didn’t know, because none of the paths were marked and said if he chose one, he’d be worried the whole time that he had chosen the wrong path. Then the Sage posed the question…what if all three paths led to the falls, then which would you choose?

That’s how the story ended….them deciding which path to choose. I’m not completely through the whole thought of this chapter, but basically…..it’s about us, on our walk with God. Sometimes we have choices in front of us, that aren’t marked. All three look good, all three unknown paths…. It’s hard to choose if you think that only one path is the “correct” one. But if God is so good, and big, can’t he direct us all to where He wants us to go, no matter the choices we make?

If we take too much time trying to figure out what God’s will is for our life….what path he wants us to take…we will bog ourselves down with “stuff” instead of just DOING what God’s will is, and that’s to love God & love people. He can you use wherever, whatever your choices, whichever your path. Are we DOING God’s will right now? Or are we just THINKING about what He wants us to do?

Wholly Yours

It’s interesting how God divinely orchestrates pieces of the puzzle to fit together perfectly, and all in one weekend. It never ceases to amaze me how that happens. The sermon I heard last evening, was speaking about paying attention to the grapes & thorns in life…seeing the Spirit at work in people. Then I read in a book last night, all about how when we come into the faith, sometimes we can become lopsided Christians…”We will fight God’s battles without learning to rest in him and thus exhaust ourselves and perhaps become cynical. We will discipline ourselves to maturity but never be enfolded by grace and so become rigid and self-righteous. We will be healed of our problems but rarely accept the cureless pain of helping others. Or we will climb the mountain of financial, spiritual and popular success but refuse to descend into the pit of defeat, where most people live.”(The Adventure, Jerry Sittser)

It goes on to encourage us to discover the multi-faceted realm of Christ, the life he offers & what he truly intended us to learn & become. There’s so much, so many things about life & faith that I have yet to learn. It’s exciting to search for it, frustrating sometimes because my nature wants to know it all NOW, and yet that’s just not the way it works. It’s about a life of seeking, developing and learning new things about God’s grace, love & forgiveness. About seeing ways to love people out of the love you have for God. …many ways that I’ve never even thought of I’m sure. In Matthew 5, there’s a guideline if you will, about Christian maturity…here’s the list:

3″Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11″Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

This goes into every aspect of life, making one’s life fully sweet, not thorny….looking at this description, it doesn’t seem like you can really (or should really) put Christianity in one compartment of your life without it affecting everything else around it. Let Christ transform your WHOLE life, let’s do this together, dive in to see His truth and his variety of joys He is seeking out for us.