Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Love through God's eyes

Love.  I can not talk about it enough.  1 Peter 4: 8 says,

" Above all, love each other deeply,
because love covers over a multitude of sins."

Love is something on my mind quite a bit these days.  I guess it is because the Holy Spirit is giving me a new understanding of love.  God realizes that I am hard headed and not naturally inclined to obedience.  It has not been enough to hear the story of Jesus over and over again.  He has began to open my eyes to identify when people are giving love unconditionally and with true sacrifice.

As a child, love is something that you just do.  I don't know that I ever really loved anything actively.  Then as an adult, I found active love.  I married my husband, I found myself doing things I would never have done before, mainly house work.  I can remember right after we were married, I had a day off, and I cleaned the bathroom.  When my darling husband came home, he took his finger across the counter top and said, "you call this clean?"  My reaction was to stop cleaning the bathroom.  It took a few years, before I began cleaning the bathroom again. 

Just like cleaning a bathroom, love is something I have struggled with.  The story of Jesus' love is about sacrifice.  Sacrifice is not a word, that is easy to use in reference to me.  However, God has a way of getting his point across.  There is a true blessing and lesson in having children.  When I became pregnant, I knew that my selfishness was going to have to take the back seat to a baby.  I can remember praying, " Lord, give me a servants heart."  The Lord in turn made me a slave to a baby!  The beauty of it, was that it did not feel like slavery.  I was doing everything out of sacrificial love for her.  I had a glimpse of the love of Jesus, internalizing the love of a parent for a child.

Giving sacrificial love to someone as loveable as my daughter was easy.  However, recognizing it and offering it to others (my hubby), has not been so easy for me.  I find that I am skeptical of the motives of others, and if I am being honest, I often think of what is best for me first.  I even sometimes struggle with missing a party or God forbid a BUNCO in the name of staying home with my family.  Writing that "out loud" makes me cringe a bit, because the truth is I dearly love my family, but I find myself wanting to "have my cake and eat it too."  I have to actively remind myself, that my presence at home matters to them.  If I miss a social event, I won't die, and more importantly, it shows my husband and daughter that I put them first.  That sometimes feels like a huge sacrifice.

The Lord is faithful and continues to show me sacrificial love, and what it really looks like.  He continues to tug on my heart that sacrificial love should come easier.  He continues to urge me: " Love never fails."

The best example of love is of course, Jesus, sacrificing his life for our sins.  However, here on earth and in my everyday life, I can easily think of a great example:  My mother in law.

I know there are some of you who are cringing at the thought.  I know that not everyone is as blessed as I am.  From the beginning of my relationship with her son, she decided she was going to like me, no matter what.  From the beginning, I included her in our life together.  I even invited her to go wedding dress shopping with me.  Through her, God has shown me a wonderful example of true sacrificial love.

She does not have to love me, but she just does.  Here are a few ways that she sacrifices on my behalf.  For those of you who don't know, I work with my mother-in-law. (Part-time, Part-time is what we call it.)  She owns a small business and just her and I work in the front office.  When I became pregnant, we changed everything for me and baby.  Now that my daughter is 6 she still works around our schedule.  She works overtime and takes care of things, so I can go and be mommy when I need to be.  As a result she doesn't get much time off.  She gives and gives of herself and her time and does not ask for much nor does she complain often.  In fact, she often gives us days off in the name of play dates.  She has sacrificed her time, so that I get to be with my daughter when she needs me.  I can be with her after school, on a field trip, or just to have a mommy daughter lunch.  I am not sure that I know anyone else, who gives of themselves the way she does for the sake of me and my little family.

Her example makes me question, the way I show my love.  Do I love sacrificially?  Do I love unconditionally?   Well, as far is my daughter is concerned yes, that is easy and quite natural.  However, I find that giving sacrificial love to other people is more difficult.  I always find myself in the cross-hairs of what I want, verses what my husband would like for me to do.  While these questions may sound silly: should I clean the house or go shopping?  should I let him have the first shower? can I take his plate to the kitchen without rolling my eyes? they make a point.

The point is, I struggle with the every day minor things that need to be done to care and show love for my family.  I struggle making the bed, unloading the dishwasher, and putting up the ironing board.  They feel like terrible meaningless chores.  I never consider how my husband feels about them, or what would make him happy.  He is a bed maker, and I am not, but is it sacrificing to much to take 4 minutes to make it?  These small things show him that he matters to me.  I admit, I have not been very good about making the little things a priority.  It is all the little things that add together to become the things that show love.

Think back to your childhood, who and what were the things that meant the most to you?  If I look back at my childhood, I immediately think of my grandmother.  I loved her dearly.  Why?  I loved her because she always made my favorite snack.  She took the time to teach me silly songs.  She took pride in keeping the small details of the things I liked; always having what I wanted when I needed it.  She kept a record of all my good stuff; she did not keep a record of my wrongs. 

I Corinthians 13: 5-7
Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures.

It occurs to me that in order to see love through God's eyes, you have to love sacrificially.  Scripture tells us, that to follow Jesus is to die to this life and walk in a new life with him.  Love does cover a multitude of sin, because true sacrificial love puts me last and others first.  My experience with personal sin, usually starts with a selfish or self serving desire.  So I ask, how do you love?  Do you love in the small details of everyday life?  Do you always trust, always hope, and always endure?  or do you keep a record of wrong?  This week I challenge you:
                           " Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."

This week, take a look at love through God's eyes.  This is my mindset, now let me hear yours!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Trust Me

When I was a teenager I had this poster, and I loved it.  The toad says, "  Trust me, I swear I am a prince, just one kiss!"  The  poster continued with all of the stereotypical, pick up lines until, the text just faded away.  This poster hung in my room until I left for college.

When I think about trust now, this poster automatically came to my mind.  It was like even as a young girl I was weary of, "too good to be true."  I was skeptical of almost everything.  I grew up in a house where it was common practice to be "realistic", and being realistic meant that you can't expect the natural outcome to always be in your favor, or good for that matter.  The house was divided: the glass was half empty on one side; and half full on the other.

As I examine my ability to trust, it is directly correlated to my ability to have faith.  "Trust me," is something that has been echoing in the back of my mind.  I hear God's voice telling me, "trust me, trust me."  It is almost and everyday occurrence right now.  It is like all of the sudden God has revealed to me that I need to trust him completely, NOT half way.

CONFESSION:  I have trust issues.  My husband would say,"UM, HELLO, you are just figuring that out?"  He would say from the time he met me, I had to ask an opinion of anyone else, instead of just listen to him.  This of course comes from the same husband who in cahoots with his father, fooled me into believing that the chubby weather man was really the Spurs Coyote mascot.  After that, how could I have trouble believing him???

As far as the real world is considered, I believe that the world is filled with lies.  The ruler of this world wants us to walk around thinking that the class is half empty.  The thought is so flippant, we don't see the deep repercussions it actually has on our ability to trust and have faith in something unseen.  It is one of the many tiny twists Satan uses to separate us from God.

You see the premise of Christianity is that Jesus came and died on the cross to save us of our sins.  The fact is, we did nothing, and we continue to do nothing to deserve God's love and sacrifice.  Now put it into reality, you are asking me to believe that I have done nothing to earn or deserve this wildly extravagant sacrifice, but it is mine out of love alone.  Is the class half empty?  or half full?  TRUST ME, he says.

Here I am today, and I find myself listening to that voice.  I am choosing to trust.  In that act of obedience something incredible is happening.  " I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  This verse has come to life in me, in a new way, all because I decided to listen to that voice saying: TRUST ME.

I have prayed many things in my life.  I can see the answers of my prayers unfolding before my eyes.  The answers are things that I can say, have nothing to do with my ability, but rest solely on the sovereignty and faithfulness of God's love.  I have prayed for years saying: "Lord, I want to serve you, take my life and make it yours."  The Lord has given me opportunities to serve.

I did not imagine that where I would serve would be so far out of my comfort zone.  Beauty From Ashes ministry has blessed me, but the original thought of serving in it was outright fear.  God said, "Trust me.  Please sit in this room and listen to real life horror stories about how people were abused and destroyed emotionally and physically, and I will show you what to do."  Then the Lord said, "I will be with you."  I remember thinking, this is what I prayed for, a place to serve.  God has answered my prayer, I need to see where God takes this.

God showed me that after the 12 week class and sometimes sooner, he can take the mountains that some women are carrying and HE CAN MOVE THEM.  I have seen a few seasons of this class and with each class and each precious woman, I see God showing me amazing things.  I not only see the changes and hope in the eyes if the those women, but he works in me too.  I see that I can trust him.  He is faithful and he NEVER FAILS.  I find that God is showing me this scripture nearly everyday:

"..... so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
                                                                                                                           Ephesians 3:17-19

God is moving in my life.  He is filling me to HIS MEASURE, not my own.  He is changing things all around me.   I will be teaching pre-school in the fall.  Another place, I feel He has called me to serve.  I will be in a Christian school teaching about Jesus.  A couple of years ago the thought of being in a classroom full of four years olds would have scared me to death.  Today,  I hear God saying, "Trust Me."  I am not afraid, but truly excited. 

I am not sure where this road is going, but I continue to hear trust me.  There are other areas of my life that are churning with change, but in the moments that I feel fear creeping in, there is also now a new reaction.  The new reaction is the decision to just trust God. 

I loved that old toad poster, but going forward, I think I am going to trust.  Don't get me wrong, I am not going to trust that toad.  I am going to confidently trust my Father in heaven who has time and time again shown me in life and scripture that He is completely trustworthy.  Even if I have to remind myself every now and then; or every few seconds!

This is my mindset, now let me hear yours!