Understanding Love

Today, September 11,  is naturally a day of reflection – especially in light of all the variety of current events: hurricanes, wildfires, floods, terrorism in all forms, division…need I go on? Yet in the midst of it, I see touches of the human heart: Communities and neighbors coming together. Storms “unexplainably” dissipate (prayer!). People smiling despite difficulty because they still hold what matters. It is in the middle of a crisis that what we are truly made of comes to the surface.  For some, it is love and kindness. Yet others are full of fear and panic and still more take advantage of a crisis for their own gain (that is evil. It makes me angry.).

As I was reflecting on the day, the good and the bad that I’ve seen over the course of a few days, I opened an email and read of atrocities across the globe that our nation has yet to experience.

FreeBurmaRangers.org

My heart sank. I felt weary. Like there is a never-ending onslaught of despicable people doing unspeakable things to each other. In addition, natural events causing death and destruction.

Even as a follower of Christ, I have moments where I ask the Father why doesn’t He bring an end to all the pain? My little mind can not absorb all the evil in this world that I am aware of. I live a fairly sheltered life (as most of us do) and admit that I am näive in regards to the depth and breadth of wickedness among human beings. I talked out loud, “God, if your heart is so much more tender and compassionate than mine is, how can you stand knowing every horrible atrocity that occurs every second of every day?”

UNDERSTANDING LOVE

As I was contemplating this question, one word came to me: LOVE.

HOW is this love?!

I don’t understand God’s kind of love. The Father is so compassionate that the scripture says He does not desire anyone to perish (in other words, to have to endure eternity in hell). If God were to step in to stop the evil in this world – that’s it. The redeemed are called back into His bosom, His Kingdom, and the rest spend eternity in hell. (Yea for me and others who know Christ, but the unspeakable for those who don’t).

A far worse consequence than any evil happening on earth.

Then it occurred to me I was more concerned about offending someone or being embarrassed than giving another person the opportunity to hear about Jesus the Messiah. Many know His Name, but few know the truth of who He is.

Compassion and love stay the hand of intervention by God the Father. That’s hard to understand.

GOD LOVES WELL

If I have not the patience of my Saviour with souls who grow slowly; if I know little of travail (a sharp and painful thing) till Christ be fully formed in them, then I know nothing of Calvary love.                    -Amy Carmichael

No matter what society blames God for, the bottom line is: God loves well.

If He is patient with me as I stumble and fall, then why not ascribe the same patience to those I find “unpleasant” (to say the least).

*God’s love holds His anger back to give each individual soul every opportunity.  My “love” says, “hurry up Jesus and get me out of here!”.

*God’s love gave us the authority to resist the enemy and hold evil at bay; and to even speak to the wind and the rain. We say, “God, do it for us”.

*God’s love says, “I’ve told you how to live in peace and love …but I’ve given you the choice to do as you will.” Our love says, “Don’t tell me what’s right and wrong. I deserve to live as I please.”

*God’s love says, “Give of yourselves to others”, “put others first”.  Our love says, “My rights come first.”

*God’s love says, “Listen to my instruction and do it My way. It will keep you from pain.” We respond, “Love doesn’t tell me what to do with my body, my time, my money, or anything else.”

love well

LOVE SHIFT

My understanding of love has far to go. I admit that I do not regularly have the Calvary love of God. As much as I want the incredible wickedness in this world to end – such as the sex trade, the terrors around the world, abuse, death, and destruction – I see that God’s love is greater than mine through His patience. If I really understood what awaits people in hell – would I not love differently? Would I not spend every opportunity and every dime to try to spread the truth of Jesus?! Is that not love?

For me, I pray that I can learn to love well enough that my comfort and desire for human approval is last to my love for the eternal well being of my neighbor.

Feature image:  Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

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