Have you ever felt like you’ve been in a holy kind of boot camp, where the Holy Spirt is trying to train you in something, teaching you a very important life lesson, (actually the most important), and you keep losing your grip on the next level of the climbing wall and slipping back down?
Well, honestly, I’ve never even attempted to climb a wall. They’ve always looked insurmountable to me. With this wall though, the Lord has been so gentle with teaching and training me. He certainly has not been a drill sergeant with me, but more like a caring, encouraging coach.
Yet, sometimes when His words hit your heart, you are like “Ugh. Lord, I’m still missing the mark?” Please, don’t hear me saying anything about performance based love here.
The wall for me, the lesson the Lord has been so gently, but relentlessly trying to teach me, has been understanding what real love looks like.
Even a little has been difficult for me to understand, partly because I didn’t have many good examples of love growing up. At best, it was a twisted, selfish, human love I knew. Also, God’s love is simply so incredibly different than what most of us experience in life.
I have several difficult life situations I’m attempting to walk out right now. Again and again when I’ve asked the why questions, “Why can’t this end now, Lord?” Or, “Why am I still being treated this way, Lord?” Or “Why is this happening all at the same time, Lord?” (you know, the questions you aren’t supposed to ask God, almighty) I’ve gotten the same consistent answer.
“I’m teaching you how to love with My love.” Sometimes, that has been a daily reply. Yet, so many times, I struggle and fight it instead of just leaning back into it.
It’s hard to love people who don’t like you, especially “Christians” who were once close. It’s hard to love family members when they are difficult to deal with, maybe facing mental or physical health issues that require you to put your needs aside. It’s hard to love teens that just want you to leave them alone (at least, they say they do). It’s hard to love people who seem to consistently reject you, and yet God says “Reach out again. Keep loving. Don’t give up.” It’s hard to love people who come to you broken, hurting, when you still feel the same way a lot of the time. It’s hard to love the prodigal.
It’s really hard to love the one who abused you, or even harder; who abused someone you love, like a child. It’s hard to love the way God does.
Heidi Baker recently relayed a story about how God challenged her on love. She had just experienced the murder of many of their pastors in Africa where she is a missionary. She struggled with her emotions over the horrible losses of those she loved. She questioned. She grieved.
Finally, the Lord spoke to her heart. “You have authority over those you love.” She knew what He meant. “Do you really love your enemies? Those who just murdered those you care most for? Do you truly love them?” It was then, she knew what she had to do. Put action to her words of love. That’s His kind of love.
Prophet Bob Jones once said after he had a heavenly visitation that the only question he was asked was by God was “Did you learn to love?”
Do you get that? That’s our one and only pursuit on this big ball of dirt, to learn to love like God does. As Paul said, To know how wide, deep, long, high is the love of God. That’s it. Our one calling. Our one goal in this life.
Jesus said it this way when asked what was the greatest commandment. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.
We have put a way longer list of expectations on ourselves through religion and culture haven’t we? Yet, the ONE lesson to learn is not exactly easy.
I was spending time with the Lord a few days ago, and He zinged my heart with these words.
“Daughter, the love you have had still has selfish aspects to it. I’m teaching you what pure love really is, without the dross. I’m using this time to perfect that in you. I love your honesty. I love your willingness to love, to give even when it hurts. Love is not afraid of being hurt. Love is not afraid of suffering. Love is not afraid of rejection. Love freely gives with no expectation of anything in return. Your love has needed a return. (Ouch.) Mine doesn’t. My love is not needy. It always gives. It always believes the best. It never gives up… True love is not afraid of anything. Just keep loving. Keep your heart open to my love. Love never fails.”
One of my favorite and least favorite things about 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, is that it begins with Love is patient. I’m so grateful for it when receiving it, but oh, it can be so hard to live it. Love is patient. It’s patient with me, and all my mess ups, brokenness, and heartache. But it also asks me to love others patiently.
The one thing that will never fail is LOVE. The one thing that will always win is LOVE – God’s kind of: lay down my life for another, suffering, beautiful love. The kind of love that hung on a cross for me.
I’ve only begun to taste it, to experience dribbles of it, but it is the most wonderful, amazing, and terrifying thing, (in the sense of when I experience it, I am completely undone), I’ve ever known – the true love of God.
If you want to know what God is made of, He says in 1 John 4 that He is LOVE.
I’ll leave you with this, because I feel it is such a beautiful picture of the love Jesus Christ has for us. May we fasten this seal of fiery love over our hearts. Let’s celebrate this most wonderful love.
“Who is this one?
She arises out of her desert, clinging to her beloved.
When I awakened you under the apple tree,
as you were feasting upon me,
I awakened your innermost being with the travail of birth
as you longed for more of me.
Fasten me upon your heart as a seal of fire forevermore.
This living, consuming flame
will seal you as my prisoner of love.
My passion is stronger
than the chains of death and the grave,
all consuming as the very flashes of fire
from the burning heart of God.
Place this fierce, unrelenting fire over your entire being.
Rivers of pain and persecution
will never extinguish this flame.
Endless floods will be unable
to quench this raging fire that burns within you.
Everything will be consumed.
It will stop at nothing
as you yield everything to this furious fire
until it won’t even seem to you like a sacrifice anymore.” Song of Songs 8:5-7 TPT