Love. On days like today my heart seems to be BURSTING with it, and yet with it also comes an ache.
Recently, God both continued a work, and began a new work, in me. Spending three weeks in Colorado with 38 like-minded people was quite an experience! My heart and mind grew to love and know these people to great depths. They will never be forgotten. I was both encouraged by them, seeing how their feelings and lives were so similar to what mine has been for the past several years, and also challenged.
Love; it is an action, a choice, and not just a feeling. Sometimes love has to make tough decisions; it has to set boundaries, say goodbye, it has to let go. I find myself now in a new season of life, a new transition. Saying goodbye to all of my new friends in Colorado was like a foreshadowing of the many goodbyes I will have from now and into the future. My heart aches and I AM sad about leaving; some relationships may never be the same. And yet, God has continued to confirm his plans for me, that I am headed in the right direction.
In Luke 9:23, Jesus says:
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”
I have learned that God’s ways and plans are better than my own. I wrestle against my own desires and the ones I know the Lord has filled my heart with. Discipline and “pruning” (John 15/Hebrews 12) never feels good at the time, but if we allow Him to work in and through us, there will be even MORE fruit and good things that will come! I have learned to stand up for what is right, fight the good fight of faith, share life with others so that they will see His love shining through (1 Thess. 2:8). Life is meant to be lived for more than just our own desires; there is a great big world out there waiting to know this love of Christ.
One day (quite a while ago) it hit me how great LOVE is. But I’m not talking about the love you see in movies or messy dating relationships; I’m talking about the GREAT, unconditional love of God. Last night this love was presented in such a clear way to me. Since the beginning of time, as soon as Adam and Eve stumbled and fell into sin, God began to call us back into relationship with Him. He pursues us, is always faithful (even when we aren’t!), and wants to be our God; He wants us to be his people! His love is constant. His is a love worth fighting for; sharing; waiting for. It is the LOVE that allows both SORROW and JOY to lie within the same heart. I learned at the missions training that it is OKAY to feel both; we live in an imperfect world. But also I know that my Lord is someone who understands me, on all levels.
Hebrews 4:15-16 says,
“Now that we know what we have− Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God− let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all− all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to Him and get what He is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.”
I know that I have this LOVE within me, because I have asked Him to come into my life. And I pray that this LOVE may overflow, as it does if we allow it to! And I can be confident that He is calling me to LOVE as He has shown countless times throughout history (1 John 4:7-21; Psalm 23:6). It is so mind-blowing and beautiful how his “beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.”
David Platt said that, “I think we are in far greater danger of being safe than we are reckless in contemporary Christianity … Followers of Christ, we do not bow at the altar of safety in this world… we die to self… risk our lives in obedience to Him… cling tightly to Him.”
So today, it was great to go back to work (working part-time until I finish raising my monthly support to go to Ecuador!) and get hugs from my co-workers, and have them say they missed me. Well, friends, I must say that the feelings are mutual! I love you/them. It is going to hurt saying goodbye but I must not (WE must not) allow this to keep me (us) from loving RECKLESSLY. Because that is what Christ did and does for us. I am going to LOVE the best I can, every day of my life.