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Saturday, July 13, 2013

How Do You Love When You Don't Feel Like It?

God says that we should love one another because He first loved us. (1 John 4:7-11).  Raising five children, and caring for my pastor-husband, while also meeting needs among our church flock, I thought, was “loving” enough! Additionally, shy people, like me, simply don’t reach beyond their comfort zone into other people’s lives. Certainly, Jesus would understand. And…well, did Jesus really mean love everyone? My excuses to exclude myself from this command seemed reasonable.

My excuses to pick and choose who I wanted to love began to unravel. Meditating upon God’s love for me, oftentimes made me weep.
God’s love is “as high as the heavens are above the earth,” (Psalm 103:11). God’s love is invincible. “…neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). The more I entered into God’s love, the more I desired to obey Him…completely. And the more I felt conflicted.

To love everyone, I thought, meant I’d have to work harder for God. That it would require more time, more energy, resources, and courage than I desired to give.

Then one morning, while perusing some mail, I came upon an article of how God had helped a missionary love others. He prayed, “Set my heart ablaze with Your love for others!” 

That prayer gripped my heart because it demanded nothing more of me than a sincere willingness and openness to what only God could do. No trying to make it happen on my end. In other words, “God, only You can change my heart. It’s up to You to put Your fiery love for others within me.”

With time, that repetitious prayer ignited love in my heart. Without feeling pressured or striving to please anyone, I began genuinely caring about people I once barely noticed. I struck up conversations that opened doors to build friendships. I enjoyed crossing my comfort zone to take bike rides and attend baseball games with the cashier I met at HyVee. It thrilled me to throw a surprise birthday party for my elderly neighbor. I prayed heart-felt prayers for my kids’ teachers. Christ’s love compelled me! (2 Corinthians 5:14)

If I slipped back into thinking that loving others was my work, (I certainly knew it and so did others around me); I grew cranky and resentful. Forgetting my Source, I’d take charge, depending upon self, looking within. I neglected quality time to really rest and delight in God, and in all His amazing promises.  

Being an instrument of God’s love is God’s work. God works through a willing vessel. God provides His agape love, His strength, His patience, His wisdom while I work.

Jesus’ commands are not burdensome. (1 John 5:3)  When God forms His love within our heart, His love banishes all excuses.  Do you know the joy and freedom in loving everyone God puts in your life?

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful heart you have! I wrote about this too a couple weeks ago that it's Christ love that compels me! So glad I stopped by. Looking forward to reading more!! :-)