Let Others SEE Your Love in Us

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

“Mom, why is it so much easier to hate and be mean than it is to love and be kind?”

This is one of the many questions that have arisen over the past few days in my house. And it is a good question. It encompasses a universal truth of humankind: to hate is easy, to love is hard.

Hate and unkindness seem to be a type of default human setting, a hard wired effect of sin. This hard wired setting also carries with it the settings of pride, envy, selfishness, and jealously. It requires no effort, no thought and no filter to throw stones and hurl accusations at others. We have no problem acting as judge, jury, and investigating officers over situations that we know nothing about. We can easily find fault in others, especially those who are most visible. At the first sight of wrongdoing, we point fingers, cast blame, and paint a red “A” on the person. Condemnation, judgment, and shunning require no effort. We speak out against others as easily as we speak about the weather. We gossip, speculate, and tear down as if in doing so we will spare ourselves from a similar fate.

Yes, to hate and to spread hate is easy. But whoever said the easy way was the right way?

If hate is a default setting, then love must be an update or an upgrade.

To love is hard, at times showing love is absolutely impossible, but yet God is the God of the impossible. The God who demonstrated love to the very ones who were nailing His hands and feet to the cross, is the same One who can love through us. The Bible says in John 13:35 that we will be known as followers of Jesus by the fact we love others.

After all, Jesus showed and continues to show love to everyone, even though none of us deserve it.

He loves the lovely and the unlovable.

He loves the commendable and the condemned.

He loves the esteemed and the estranged.

He loves the sinner and sin-illuminator.

He loves the physically hungry and the power-hungry.

He loves the accused and the accuser.

He loved those calling out to crucify Him, just as He loved those crying as He was crucified.

He loves those who hate Him and He loves those who love Him.

Jesus Himself is Love and He is the only way we can truly love others.

Jesus never turned away from a person who truly repented and sought forgiveness. Jesus restored, redeemed, reclaimed and remade. He is able to restore sinners and victims. He is able to heal, and make new.

Love heals, while hate further opens wounds.

My heart has been so very heavy this past week. Things in this world feel different; as if sitting in a play where you are so busy watching the actors on stage that you don’t realize the scene behind them as changed.

The scene and climate of our world has changed. A battle is being waged and evil is creeping in while hate takes center stage.

Oh how I long for God’s people to stand up in love and pray for the boldness, strength and courage to not be content with our default human setting, but to pray to the God who is Himself Love and ask for Him to fill us with Himself so we can show Love to this broken world, and to fellow Christians.

Love, forgiveness and compassion are the weapons we must use to fight the hatred growing all around us.

Hate is easy, judgment is easy, condemnation is easy.

But Lord let us not be content with easy. Raise up Your people and strengthen us to do what is hard: to love, to forgive, and to show compassion. Give us Your wisdom and discernment to know how to love victims and perpetrators; and give us the courage and strength to forgive and restore, and to admit that we are all sinners in need of You, the Savior.

We need You Jehovah Rapha to heal our hearts, our people, and our land. We give our hearts to You. Please show Your love in and through us. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

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Let us SEE You even through tired eyes

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

“Mom, you know that verse that says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith?” my son asked me as we walked through the grocery store after school one day this week. He went one, “well, if I had to say that about myself right now, I would say ‘I am beat up from the fight, crawling to the finish line because I can’t stand up, and trying really hard to have faith that I’ll make it.’ ”

So, my son is a little prone toward the dramatic. Especially in light of the fact he is talking about coming to the end of his sixth grade year. But I can so identify with how he is feeling. This time of year often leaves me limping along in my personal race too.

Maybe it’s just the fact that we know summer is almost here and the pace of life will slow down some, which makes us realize the intense pace we have been keeping all year long. Maybe it is the push to get as much done as possible before kids are home for the summer? Or maybe it just is what it is. Whatever the reason, I feel worn out and tired. Getting out of bed in the morning seems like an accomplishment in and of itself most mornings.

I have these vague memories from early September of me getting up before the alarm went off in order to pack healthy lunches with little encouraging notes tucked inside. I remember having each person’s laundry done and put away by Sunday night, with clothes for the next day picked out the night before. I seem to remember having these awesome folders where each child’s school forms and information were neatly stored until needed.

Fast forward to present day, where I willingly write lunch card checks so I don’t have to make a lunch (I mean $5 for lunch saves me at least 10 minutes in the morning, that’s totally worth it right????), my son is digging through the dryer the morning of school to find a shirt to wear, which looks as wrinkled as it sounds like it would. And school forms? Can we just go back to the days when those things were safety pinned to our kids shirts and then repined to send back?

I start to feel so guilty about feeling worn out. I mean, there are people in this world with real problems and real reasons to feel exhausted. I don’t really have a good reason, but I still feel spent.

And yet, Paul himself referred to life as a fight, which implies there are times it will be hard and even painful. He also said he finished the race, not that he ran the entire time with his head held high, his steps light and fast, and without getting winded. Maybe it is ok sometimes to limp, crawl or be supported by someone else as we run in our race toward our real Home.

I am human and I get fatigued. I am emotional and often allow my feelings to lead me. God knows this about me and yet, He loves me (and you!). He knows our weakness and He knows sometimes life feels like it is too hard for us. But I think those times can actually become His greatest blessings. After all, when I can’t do it on my own, I have to trust Him to get me through.

It is when I am at my weakest that I am able to SEE Him as my strength.

When I have nothing left to give, but am able to meet the needs of others, I SEE Him providing through me.

When I am so unfocused that I can’t write a curriculum lesson, and I cry out to God to write for me and He does, I SEE His Presence flowing through me.

When I want to pull the covers over my head and hide, and yet I ask Him to help me get up and He does, I SEE Him as the source of my strength.

When I feel overwhelmed, flustered, and grumpy, and ask Him to help me, and when He quiets my heart and brings me rest, I SEE Him as the giver of Peace.

Maybe being worn out and tired isn’t as bad as I thought it was. Maybe this is exactly where God wants me to be so I can SEE Him more clearly. And maybe, this is the day when my Precious Father will carry me for a bit along my race, as He fills me with His strength and lets me rest in Him.

We will finish this race! Let’s support each other, love each other, pray for each other, and encourage one another along the way!

And please don’t judge me if you see my kids in horribly wrinkled clothes today! 😉

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Sometimes we all need to let our “Daddy” hold us along the way