I can be very quick to react, hard, harsh, and quite unfeeling when it comes to how I handle things. I’m extremely passionate about most everything that I do. I either give it my full attention, or none at all.
This doesn’t work well in interacting with others. If I was an island, sure, I’d get a lot done… but I’m not.
I want to learn to love. I want the things I say and do to give life. If I confront, I want it to be because God is wanting to breathe life into whoever it is I’m faced with, not because I have some idealistic agenda or opinionated principles to drive into someone. I want to love people, not fix them.
Anyway, I’m sure you know the feeling. But try as I may, I’m still intense. I cut out coffee, I’m still intense. I go to bed earlier to get more sleep… yep… still a zealot. THE GOOD THAT I WANT TO DO, I CAN’T SEEM TO DO! WHAT I DO, I DON’T WANT TO DO!
I need the living Word of God. The one that’s sharper than a double edged sword, and is able to separate my soul from my spirit, and set me free.
So…The word came to me the other day. My beautiful and wonderful young friend Aubrey had read this devotional by Amy Charmichael. (if you don’t know about Amy, you should. She was incredible) But she read this thing and said that she couldn’t stop thinking about me, so she brought it to me. Amy was describing the phenomenon that no amount of trying or fixing or anything systematic can make you more loving, only love can…
“…Love can fill the cup so full of love, that nothing can come out but love. You remember the old illustration, a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water no matter how suddenly jolted. Love can quicken our powers of thinking and of imagining so that we shall know how others are feeling, even if they do not tell us; a kind of instinct will tell us-the instinct of love. Love will never let us hurt another unless we must, and then it will hurt us far more. We will not do it easily.
Sometimes there is a great deal to be done before God can come upon us in changing and renewing power. But if only we will ask Him to come now and sweep from us every particle of unlove; to cleanse us thoroughly in this matter, searching into the deep places of our hearts, where thoughts that only He and we know like to creep and hide; then the way will be clear for Him to do all that He longs to do for us.”
It was exactly what I needed to hear. I made a copy. I’ve read it over and over… but more than that, I felt it go inside, and start doing it’s painful work.
For me to love more, is for me to accept love more. For me to love more, is for me to see just how unloving, hard, and arrogant I am. I have to let God begin to go in there and clean house. It hurts. But bit by bit, I know He’s changing me, causing repentance to rise up like the blessing of rain from the heavens on a steaming hot day.
That repentance really is a gift from God. And what’s greatest about it, is it forces me to accept His love…
So to end all of this with something clear, I’ll just say that God’s been teaching me to pay attention to the ‘enter like a child’ concept through my daughter Aletheia. (for those who don’t know, her name means ‘truth’… full name is Aleitheia Mercy)
We’ve been trying to get a handle on how to really instill the life and mindset of Christ in our girls. And I had been racking my brain to figure out things we could do with them, to help them see the needy and have a desire to care. To have that true religion that Isaiah spoke of, of caring for widows, orphans and those less fortunate than ourselves.
But the funny thing is that, for months, Allie had been asking to go to the nursing home and visit this sweet old lady named Mary. Allie has helped her play bingo on a few occasions with a group that goes once or twice a month.
But Allie likes Mary, and she’s been dying to introduce us to her. So it occurred to me, let’s do that. Duh! That’s exactly what we’re wanting for our kids, and our kids are asking to do it.
But I didn’t know what I was going to see. There’s a love in that little girl that I just don’t understand, but I want to.
For example, there’s this older ‘Gospel of Matthew’ movie that I like the girls to watch. They love it. The guy who played Jesus really took it to heart. He doesn’t just heal people, He adorns them with love. He caresses them and embraces them… even rolls on the ground in delight with a leper. I want my girls to do them same… heck, I want to do the same.
But we went in this nursing home, and hunted down this Mary. She was very alone, and had all sorts of problems. Her hands and legs were swollen and frightening, and the smell was not very pleasing at all. And as we approached, Allie broke off from me and dove into her arms just like Jesus.
But she didn’t stop there. She’d go up to all of these lonely and dying people, and press her forehead against theirs, with so much sweetness and compassion in her eyes. They delighted in her. And I could tell that the love of God was just pouring out of her.
Dear God, I want to be like her so badly, and you know what… He’s going to make me like her. He promised. He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it.
I can’t wait to see what lies ahead.