I was reading my latest book, "A Loving Life" by Paul E. Miller, which is really a deeper look into the book of Ruth. If you are not familiar with that storyline in the bible you can check out The Bible Project and their YouTube clips which are illustrated overviews and explanations of books. (Really helpful!). The one for the book of Ruth is HERE.
Back to the book – I am really enjoying it. The part I was reading last night shed some light on some dark parts of my heart and gave a name to the kind of love and endurance that I was needing help to maneouvre through and around – weighted love.
Whether it's a spouse, a child, a colleague, a ministry partner, individual setting, or group setting – our ability to love humanly is quickly tested and found to be limited.
Society commonly teaches that we 'love others to change others' or 'love when you feel like it'. Love is not a tool of manipulation to bring the wayward child or estranged spouse home. It's not a tool of manipulation where we strive to love and try to bring a person to repentance. Because when we pour out love over and over again and see no change or no one comes home we begin to wonder whether it's even worth it, we wonder if the reason our numbers are lacking is because we haven't loved enough. What turmoil our hearts become wrapped in! It's interesting though to pull back and ponder –
Why does God love me?
For what I could or will become?
For what I can give back to him?
Does he start loving me when I'm good enough and stop when I'm bad?
God is love.
He loves because that's who He is. When we have the life of Christ in us and we are deeply rooted in Him, we love because His life is now in us, through Christ and the Holy Spirit, and that's who He is – LOVE.
Imagine if churches existed on this foundation instead of 'loving to get numbers' ,wow how our striving would cease and our abiding would flourish. The life of Christ would serve our broken Christ-less communities through us – those who are SO hard to love humanly would experience the gracious, merciful love of God.
People often ask 'why do you keep loving and serving when people are bad to you and use you?'. Our response is, "what God requires of us is to obey and act faithfully. Obey His Spirits leading, give when God requires, live faithfully. Faithful living is not blind living or blindly giving.
Faithful living is when God becomes our eyes and we trust Him in the things he sees that lies ahead and the directions we should take. He sees perfectly what lies ahead.
Trust Him. Ruth had no idea what lay ahead for her – she gave her all, and God used her faithfulness to go against the grain of society's expectations and because she chose to shelter in God's protection she saw God's care and protection over and over again.
Is this something we are willing to do? Go against the norm of the world and live for the extraordinary of the gospel and life of Christ living IN us and THROUGH us? It's scary, but so worth it.
I need a Saviour everyday. I need my life soaked in Gods Word and empowered by His Spirit everyday. Because without God's love in us we are but a resounding gong. Useless.
Sometimes to love another in our life is far from easy, let alone fun and joyful. Love can be heavy. I sometimes wonder if the love that Jesus had for us when he hung on the cross was a 'heavy', 'weighted' love for us. One of the women in the bible, Ruth, knew what it was to 'lean upon God Because she couldn't bear the weight of love.'
Who are the unlovelies in your life right now? The ones who are hard to love, the ones who the very thought of serving strikes fear, and ugly thoughts? When we go to God and confess that we know without a shadow of a doubt that we can't love – we find that endurance for these seemingly impossible weights of love are found in being rooted and firmly grounded in God, and that as we do this and lean upon God each moment of each day, our faith grows and is energised …. and then we realise it is actually God's ability (not our own) to handle the weight of love in us and through us that is miraculous and transformative. #alovinglife #atthecross #wheretheburdenofmyheartrolledaway