I Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Cleaning is often my release at the end of a busy week. Setting my own house in order is a way of righting those things that I cannot right in the outside world. Work has been nothing short of absolute chaos. I cannot make other people do their jobs. I am unable to communicate how the constant and endless interruptions make mine virtually impossible. In the midst of a season of change, I have another opportunity clearly from the Lord that has surfaced in my life. I love it. I hang on to it. It has become the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. Yet, at this moment in time it means another sacrifice of time and energy to complete those tasks in addition to my full-time job, as well as finding motivation after long stressful days. Cleaning the house allows me to release all the tension of the week and have things the way that I like them.
My daughters have a love/hate relationship with such frenzies. They each chores and responsibilities that they are required to do each week to contribute to the family. Each week it is often a “chore” just to make them to their chores. Not to mention, if I discover the condition of their living quarters and bathroom before they get around to doing what they are supposed to. But when I go into overdrive, I will often do their chores as I go along. As I was looking for a few more things to fill the washer to make a load, I wandered into my teenager’s room. I decided that it was time to wash all her bed linens. So on the spot, I stripped the bed to her great dismay. She protested as bedtime was close and she loves the particular sheets on her bed. So I worked to wash all of it and have it in place by bedtime. Just before heading to bed, I got the sweetest text from her. It said, “Thank you for doing my shores and washing my sheets…they smell very good” with I love you! Her appreciation for what I had done for her overwhelmed my worn-out heart in that moment. I am a mom. I love my job as a mom. The work associated with being a mom is not worrisome, bothersome over overburdening because I love the people I do them for.
When I woke up this morning, I knew the message that God was speaking to my heart before my brain even was awake enough to think. God loves me! He loves to bless me. He loves to help me. He loves being my Father. It is the core of His Existence if you think about it. Everything He does that is good is centered on His Love for me. He gave His One and Only Child a Son just so that I could come home and be with Him forever even though I did some pretty terrible things in my most sinful condition. It doesn’t matter anymore. The Love of God through Jesus Christ has made a way for our relationship to be intact again. He loves me. I love Him.
Like me, you may “do” a number of things in the course of each day that go unnoticed, unappreciated, assumed or given. We do them the best for those we love. Think about it. You go to work for a paycheck. You work hard but the whole time you are doing your job, what are you thinking about? Getting back home. Your life is not your job. I realized almost four years ago that my life was my job. I don’t know how I got so consumed in my career when I took the job just to fill the time when my last child went to school. I was there early and would come home late. It became my priority. When our son was diagnosed with cancer, my heart was broken. I think a better term might be “smashed” into a million irreconcilable pieces. There was no way that it would ever go back the same way it was before. In this life my husband and children are EVERYTHING to me. When faced with the real and present danger of losing one of them, I absolutely came undone. It was a good thing. It was a God thing! We are celebrating nine months of remission. The longest that this kid has ever made it cancer-free since that day. We are rejoicing. God is good! He is faithful. He is true. Looking back in retrospect, I wonder if it took all this to change my heart. If God in His Divine and Infinite Goodness knew I was missing out on some things so He used this terrible situation to change me and bless me in doing so? I know He did.
I John 4:7—8 (NLT)
Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
God IS love. I know it sounds cliché. I realize it may be hard to completely understand His Love, how He loves, why He loves, and when He loves. This world has given love a very bad reputation. Love is a commitment. Well, that’s not the kind of love I want. Friend, then you don’t want love. If you want love, there will always be a commitment. Look at the definition of love in I Corinthians 13. It begins by saying that love is patient. Hello, patience is a commitment.
Think about it. You go to the store to pick up the ingredients to bake a cake. You want a cake. You have been craving cake all week. You deserve a good cake after the week that you have had. You gather everything needed to bake one and can even smell it mindfully as it cooks. But when you get to the checkout lane, there is a line of fifteen people at the register. If you are at Walmart, that means only one lane is open and the over 52 are closed. Ha! It is right there in that moment that you decide if you are in love with the idea of cake. If you are, you will make the commitment to wait and checkout. If not, you will drop the goods and leave the store thinking that your time is worth more than that. Commitment.
Not all commitment is love obviously, but true love always makes a commitment. We must love one another. Why? God is love. Love is inconvenient. It is messy. It is not the fairytale or façade painted in the media, movies or television. It is hard. It is broken. It is only when we make the commitment to love God AND then others as He has asked us to that we start to see all the benefits of true love. God is love. People do not love you like God loves us but we learn to accept their love as enough when we are full of God’s Love.
When you continue to read through the love definition in God’s Word, it is clear that this love thing is work. Everyone cannot just lay around and wait to be loved. We must work love out in our own life with our God. But the fact remains clear we must do everything in love to have God in everything we do because He is love.
Ecclesiastes 9:9-10 (NLT)
Live happily with the woman you love through all the meaningless days of life that God has given you under the sun. The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil. Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom.
When I read this verse today it clicked, life is meaningless without love. We have the Love of God which completes us. Stop, say it again. We have the Love of God that completes us. If no other person loves you in life which is, of course, impossible because you are super lovable all the time in every way – God’s Love is more than enough! Is it? We invest so much time looking for love in life that we often miss the fact that God’s Love is life. Love is the only thing that remains. Three things are forever – faith, hope and love. Faith and hope are based on God’s Love. We are to live happily in love.
I John 4:16-17 (NLT)
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the Day of Judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
We KNOW how much God loves us…if we did it would change how we love other people. There is humility and grace in love that requires sacrifice and surrender. When we trust the Love of God for our life, we are free to love others. Do we? I am taking a friend and her family dinner tonight. She had major surgery this week and the Lord laid it on my heart to offer her a hot home-cooked meal. I want to bless her because I love her. She loves me. She has shown her love for my family and my children in more ways than I could ever recount. There was no website set up with a bunch of people signing up to bring meals and shuttle children just a little tug on my heart to love my friend. How many times does the Holy Spirit tug on our heart like that and we brush it off because we are too busy? I do it all the time. I have a million excuses why I cannot commit to certain things. They may even be valid. But love IS my main priority and commitment. When I do little acts of kindness and love for others, it blesses God’s Heart just like my daughter’s appreciation blessed mine. I can say that I love God. He knows my heart. But I wonder when I do things even small things like cooking a meal in love for another, does it bless Him like that? Does it mean I have somehow figured out what it is He has been after all along? The best way to love someone is to show them. Giving not taking. Doing not saying. I want my love to grow more perfect today. Even if that means I must be more patient and kind rather than demanding my own way. I must live in peace with everyone even if that means humbling myself to do it. I must not be rude, boastful, jealous or proud when dealing with others including adversaries and enemies because they are my brothers and sisters in disguise. If I can just focus on God’s Love for me, take it all in and allow it to fill me up, I can approach every person in my life ready to love because the need has been satisfied in me. I’ve got it. I am finally beginning to understand what religion couldn’t show me, doctrine couldn’t teach me, and people couldn’t make me. I am finally beginning to see that anything and everything I do “in love” blesses my Father’s Heart completely. God wants me to genuinely love Him and by doing so sincerely love others. As I wrap my head around God’s Definition of Love, I pray that the Lord through the Holy Spirit will show me who to love and how to love in every situation I encounter today and everyday as I learn to live in love!
Colossians 3:12-15 (NLT)
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
***Special Thanks and Acknowledgement to Mimi Sanchez for picture.