Monday, April 28, 2014
Last week I noticed my joy was challenged. I dreaded writing and worried over what I wrote. I worried over the counsel I would give to others. I had no energy to go on. The joy of the Lord is our strength. I had no joy.
I thought of the verse in Gallatin's, when Paul ask what happened to all your joy. They had returned to the law. They had forgotten the gospel. They had lost their freedom. This was me. I was more interested in what was on the outside of the cup instead of what was on the inside like the Pharisees. I had lost all heart of love.
It came to me the thing I was to do was to return to God. Jesus pulled away from the crowds to be with the Father. I was to pull out of ministering to others. So I decided to make my focus on the love of God for me, his child, through Christ Jesus. This is so simple a child can understand but so deep and profound it silences the wise. We are told the love of God is beyond knowledge. But it is poured out into our hearts. God opened up our hearts and poured out Jesus by His Spirit. His perfect love for us.
I want to share some of the ways I returned to God. I prayed 1 Corinthians 13 in Lectio Divina prayer. I focused on, not how I was to love others like this, not right now, but how God had loved me like this. I ask for prayer. I shared my need with others. Others loved me and counseled me not for what I could do for them but just because they loved me for me. I enjoyed being with friends. I worked in my garden thinking about Gods love for me in giving me the strength to do it, even though slow. I enjoyed Him through creation. I gave God all the glory and it made my husband so happy. I went to church and gloried in my redeemer. This is to be satisfied in Him alone. Gods word of His faithfulness to me would cause me to persevere til the end. A friend wrote me that our joy was the joy the Lord had in us. That was it. It was not something I had to muster up but it was something given, received. I have heard it said we are to work like it all depends on us and trust like it all depends on God. I need to think about that some more but sounds good to me.
Almost immediately after, I decide I would set a goal. My goal would be to impart all the knowledge I had or would have, about God to my family and those my life touches and it would go on for generations to come. Long after I am gone. Then I thought, ok, God gave us a new law to love Him and love others. All other laws are enveloped in these two laws. I will teach others how to love people and love God. I thought all I have ever wanted is for my family to love God and love each other. Such a good goal. This is what God wants from us.
Moments later we had a situation in our family and no one was loving each other. I got angry and started to demand it. I was resentful. I thought I am the only one who knows how to love. Then the Spirit broke me. When what you want, even though it is a good thing, keeps you from loving others and loving God it is an idol of the worse kind, because it is so hard to see. It takes the Spirit at work. It is the love of God that shows us our need for Jesus to show us our sin. How do I love others when they don't give me what I think I need?
I thought of a little child, even those who maybe raised in an abusive home, love their parents. If they are removed for their protection, they always want to know and love and be returned their parents even later in life. Not that they want to be mistreated, but they love them because of who they are, their mother and father. Jesus tells us we need to be like a little child. Full of faith and hope and trust, full of joy and love. God loves us not because of what we do but because of who we are, His. We do out of our love for Him and others. It may take years but our love bares fruit in the life of another believer. It even helps others to come to Him.
God was changing me. I began to focus on how my family was loving each other. That God was at work in us all. I thanked my husband for loving our children. I passed this on to my kids. They were loving each other in their own way. It was not my way but none the less, a child of God has love in their hearts for others. You can teach someone how to love but it is the Spirit of God that gives the heart of love. It is His love. I can't do it apart from Him. It is those rivers of living water flowing through me. Those who are forgiven much love much. The more we see our own need and God meeting that need, for our own love and forgiveness, the more we love others just as they are, because of Him. We help each other change as we bring truth and love into their lives and trust God to first work in our own hearts and then the hearts of others. We point them to Jesus, to God who is love. We have got to be willing to hope for love but be willing to be hurt by love. They go hand in hand. Love hurts. We have got to be willing to walk through the pain to get to the joy. Jesus was our example of this. But He hurt because of the joy of the love He hoped for, in us and His love for His Father. He experience death because He was to help us experience His love that never dies. It is His love in me that I love others with. He had given me a deeper desire to love others and Him. I had seen that it was not of me at all. Apart from Him I can do nothing. But He wanted to flow through me. It is His joy, His love, His perseverance. It is Him. I have the joy of working with Jesus to love others. He is my partner in love.