Tag Archives: love

Papa Daddy

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Most of my time is spent taking care of people who are under the age of ten – infants, toddlers, young children.  (I’m a nanny, a babysitter, the oldest cousin in my family, a big sister to a precious four-year-old – I’ve always had kids around me and hope I always do!)  The thing that is always consistent among children is that they always have just one more need, one more want.  “Just one more, please” are words I hear all the time.  Just one more.  Will I sing one more song?  Give one more kiss to a scraped knee?  Read one more book before bed?  Hold you close for one more moment?  Tickle you once more or play with you at the park?  Answer one more curious inquiry?  And then, of course, there are the other tasks that come with having small children in one’s care.  Will I clean one more sticky face?  Wipe up one more spilled glass of milk?  Settle one more squabble and soothe one more sorrow?  Prepare one more meal?  Do one more of the seemingly endless loads of laundry?  Give one more reminder to “use kind words” or to be careful near fragile objects?  So many needs, these endless “one mores” that kids have.

A couple weeks ago I’d had a particularly long week, having been at one house or another each day for late nights, early mornings, and even overnight stays to take care of different families’ kids.  Just prior to bedtime on Saturday, I could sense the exasperation creeping into my tone of voice.  Particularly, I didn’t want to kiss another imagined “owie” (we were having a dramatic evening), but I did it anyway.  By the time I had everyone settled for the night, I had regained my calm.  As I rocked the youngest one to sleep, she snuggled into me and, as she drifted off, sleepily begged for one more song.  Why not?  So, while singing “Jesus Loves Me” – her favorite song – “just one more time,” I admired her sweet self, so perfectly content and relaxed in her sleep.  And I was suddenly overwhelmed by the love of my Heavenly Father.

Our Heavenly Father is never exasperated by us.

To all you parents, including my own: thank you for loving and caring for your children so faithfully, for every "one more" you've tended to! (Photo: my Papa holding my cousin, Isaac, his 8th grandbaby)

To all you parents, including my own: thank you for loving and caring for your children so faithfully, for every “one more” you’ve tended to! (Photo: my Papa holding my cousin, Isaac, his 8th grandbaby)

Your needs, your wants, your mishaps and unintentional bumblings, your hopes and dreams, your hurts – real or imagined – are all important to Him because you are important to Him.  Even the most loving parents and caretakers are exasperated at times – but our Father never is.  You are never “too much” or “not enough.”  You can never be too needy for God.  He is never put out by your neediness; He is not upset by your humanity.  He is not burdened with your care.  It is His pleasure to meet your needs because you are His pleasure.

I think there is a part of us that is always childlike.  Deep within ourselves, we crave the love and acceptance of a parent – and the only One who can perfectly satisfy these longings is our Heavenly Father.  As life goes on, our bumblings and ponderings become more sophisticated, our wounds become more complex than a scraped knee, and our desires and dreams become more expansive.  We grow older, but we will never outgrow our need for our Father to love us, to hold us, to come for usAnd it is His delight to care for us.

Sometimes we miss just how intimately and intricately the Father’s heart is displayed throughout Scripture.  While there are endless revelations to be gleaned from the Scriptures, the living and active words of God (Heb. 4:11), I am going to present a few truths with corresponding verses.  And, actually, if only for the fact that many people can’t see a loving God the Father presented in the Old Testament, I am going to take most of these bits from there.  As you read, focus on how they highlight the Father-Heart of God, His deep and relentless care for you, His precious child.  Perhaps you had loving parents as an example; perhaps you did not.  Perhaps there was someone else in your life who provided protection and nurture.  The truth is, that whether you had fitting examples or wretched examples, God is nothing but good – and He alone is the true Goodness.  He is a good, good Father, perfect in all of His ways – and I say that with utter certainty and without a hint of irony.

Your Heavenly Father wants you to run to His strong arms, to hold you close awhile longer.  You cannot and will not escape the loving embrace and watchful care of the One know alone knows you completely.

  • “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” – Deut. 33:27
  • “O Lord, you have searched me and known me….You understand my thought afar off.  You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.  For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.” – Ps. 139:1, 2-3

He longs for you to let Him come to your rescue.  He wants to sing you “one more song” and whisper His words of love over you.  You are not a disappointment to Him – ever.  He delights in you – always.

  • “The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” – Zeph. 3:17
  • “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God!” – 1 Jn. 3:1
Be they great or "small," no wound is beneath His attention.

Be they great or “small,” no wound is beneath His attention.

He cares about your wounds, your sorrows and your disappointments.  He wants to “kiss your owies,” big or small, real or perceived, and heal all your wounds – even the ones that are incurable and impossible.  He is a Gentle Healer, whether your wounds are self-inflicted or came at the hands (or words) of others.

  • ‘“For thus says the Lord, ‘Your affliction is incurable, your wound is severe .  There is no one to plead your cause, that you may be bound up.  You have no healing medicines….I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds…’”’ – Jer. 30:12-13, 17
  • “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – Jn. 3:16

Because you are His precious child and He loves you, He won’t let you go without correction.  (Isn’t that beautiful?)  There is nothing you do that is unknown to Him – there’s no need to hide or worry about getting caught, because He already knows.  And more than that, He cares about you enough to discipline you and train you in righteousness.

  • “…do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction.  For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father [does for] the son in whom He delights.” – Pro. 3:11-12
  • If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?….no chastening seems enjoyable for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” – Heb. 12:7, 11

lion and cubCan you fathom such a love, this Father-Love of our good God?  And there is so much, much more that could be said about this limitless Love.  My little sister likes to call our grandfathers (or any older man whom she perceives to be like a grandpa) “Papa,” and “Daddy” has always been what we called our dad.  She enjoys combining these terms into one all-encompassing name: Papa Daddy.  There is something precious and tender about this name; it speaks to the desire of a father’s heart to protect and provide.  That is what a good father does – that is what our Good Father does.  Did you know that God wants to be your Papa Daddy?  All the good daddy things I mentioned above, all the verses I shared, He wants to do and be for you.  You are precious to Him.  You are His child, and He delights in you because you are His

My friends, I will say again: our Papa Daddy is never annoyed by us.  Even the most devoted parents grow weary at times, but He never does.  His lap is always available, and His arms are always safe.  He is always ready to sing you one more song.  He is always ready to wash the dirt off and pick you up again.  He wants you in your neediness, your crying, your laughing, your asking, your yearning – He wants you in every state.  Don’t let your need keep you distant; let it draw you deeper into the Love of your Papa Daddy.

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Crave

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Is there anything that you cannot live without?  Something that, were you to lose it or not have it, your life would feel hollow?  Something that, once you have experienced it and lived with it, you simply cannot give up?  What is so intrinsic to who you are that you absolutely need it in order to live your life?

Selflessness – now that I have tasted it, I can’t forget it; I crave it.  The longing to be selfless, to serve, and to minister to others is what drives me.  I desire to live for something lasting, something bigger than myself, bringing the culture of heaven to the earth and revealing the kindness of the Father’s heart.  I have learned it, lived it, and loved it.  Wherever I can go, whatever I can do – I want to take every opportunity to serve.  Compelled by love – it feels as natural as breathing (2 Cor. 5:14-19).  It is not easy; sometimes passion hurts.  But through it all the craving remains.  Living in Africa, being a missionary kid and a pastor’s daughter, being head-over-heels in love with Jesus – I am ruined for life and so ready for the here-and-now of eternity, the fullness of heaven invading the earth.  Nothing else will satisfy.  Crave.

Merely existing cannot satisfy; our souls crave MORE.

Merely existing cannot satisfy; our souls crave MORE. What is your MORE?

Caught in the Westernized idea of Christianity that often (though perhaps unintentionally) advocates a go-big-or-go-home lifestyle, I used to believe that ministry and service had to create sweeping change.  I used to believe that I had to do something “big” and that only something big could be worthwhile in God’s kingdom.  It wasn’t that I consciously believed it; it was more like a disquiet deep within my spirit about the value and nature of ministry – but no more.  Now I am content to be the one who makes “little” change, one person at a time – and each of those lives will touch another life, and each of those yet another – until a cycle of change becomes sustainable at the deepest levels.  Crave.  Every person who is blessed by my writing, who hears the voice of God and feels His presence through my words and actions – it is both more than enough and only the beginning.  Crave.

Every moment there are possibilities, choices, and opportunities, and I long to live a life that takes full advantage of all of those moments.  I desire to live a life of selfless service. Crave.  I want my passion for God and for people to be part of my legacy – and legacies begin in the quiet, “little” moments.  Legacies aren’t something that simply happen after you die; legacies are built as you take the day-to-day opportunities to make the right choice.  Crave.  I want to seek out and eagerly embrace opportunities to serve, whether they are menial, prestigious, or just plain difficult.  Why?  Because I don’t know how to live any other way.  I can’t resist the craving for a life that is more than myself, more than the comfort of the moment.  Life is most beautiful when it is lived selflessly.  Crave.

I’d like to say I take every opportunity to serve – I don’t always do that, but I’d like to.  As I mentioned in “Open My Eyes,” ministry is seeing needs and meeting them.  It is a way of viewing life that allows you to see ministry opportunities to bring Truth of the Gospel and the love of Christ into any and every situation.  I know that not every will agree with my simple definition of ministry; I know all the arguments about definitions, duties, and ministry as a vocation.  I know that it is important to consider the specific gifts and dreams that God has placed within me.  But when I look at the life of Jesus Christ, I see a Man who poured out the relentless love of our Heavenly Father by noticing and meeting needs, whether physical, spiritual, or emotional. The ministry of Jesus sparked that cycle of sustainable, soul-deep change that we often strive to begin on our own.  The truth is that we don’t need to create change; we need to spread change by serving selflessly, leaving the rest to God’s Holy Spirit, who dwells within us and leads us to repentance.  Crave.  

Service is not about “doing more,” earning grace or recognition, or completing a duty.  It is about living wholeheartedly. Selflessness is not something you merely “do,” like reading a book or taking a shower.  Rather, it is a way you live your life that becomes a part of who you are.  That’s when the craving happens.  As the selfless love of Christ is indelibly etched into your soul, you come to the point where you can’t imagine living your life in any other way.  Crave.  I throw myself fully into everything I do because I only know how to live whole-heartedly.  To live as Christ lived is to live selflessly:

crossLet each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” — Philip. 2:4-8 ESV

Over the holidays I spent lots of time hanging out with good friends.  As we gathered after ice skating one night, we found that one of our group was missing.  When someone questioned where he was, my brother pointed and said, “Oh, he’s over there praying for someone.  That’s just how he is – he’s cool like that.”  When the craving runs deep, the loving and serving come naturally. Crave.  Is that “just how we are”?  Is that the lifestyle we pursue?  Are those the people we choose to build relationships with, people who crave nothing more than to live whole-heartedly, fully abandoned in the love of Christ?  That is the kind of woman I want to be, and those are the kind of friends I want to have around me.  Crave.

To give freely, serve joyfully, obey willingly, and love fully – I crave to live out the culture of heaven on the earth.  I admit, I am addicted.  The craving is what gets me up in the mornings with a song in my heart.  It’s what makes me want to spend hours listening to and laughing with the girls in my dorm.  It’s what gets me up in the night to tend to sick friends or care for my little sister.  It’s why I carried someone else’s luggage in addition to my own the entire length of a train when I saw she was weary.  It’s why I weep with longing for Africa, my heart breaking with desire to go back to the place my heart loves.  It’s what makes me eagerly seek out opportunities to serve and do ministry – to meet any need I can.  It’s why I’m sitting here late at night, writing when my heart is overflowing with words that I don’t want to lose.  I want every part of my life to reflect the nature of my God.  In the craving are depths of passion and the love of the Father’s heart that I have only just begun to discover.  Crave.  This is why I do what I do and why I am who I am.  When the craving becomes part of who you are, other ways of living become hollow until, eventually, they fade into nothingness.  When we allow the culture of heaven to define our lifestyle, the selfishness of our sin nature that once bound us no longer has any authority to control us.  Through the precious blood of Christ we are empowered to live selflessly – but more than that, we are empowered to live selflessly with joy.

And so, my dear friends, what do you crave?  Are you ready to respond to His call to live whole-heartedly?  Are you ready for Him to wreck your life with the craving for the kingdom-culture of heaven?

“For though I am free from men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more…I have become all things to all men, that by all means I might save some.  Now this I do for the gospel’s sake….” — 1 Cor. 9:19, 23 NKJV

Embrace the craving -- run wild in the precious freedom of a life lived selflessly.

Embrace the craving — run wild in the precious freedom of a life lived selflessly.

State Your Intentions

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Have you ever wondered what it would be like for life to be perfect?  And what exactly would make life perfect?  Adam and Eve knew.  Once upon a time, life was perfect in the Garden of Eden…

“The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.  And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food…” – Gen. 2:8-9a

The chapter goes on to describe in greater detail this paradise God created and given to man.  Yet there is something that rivets me in these verses, more than the depiction of the idyllic location:

‘The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil….And the Lord God commanded the man, saying “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”’ – Gen. 2:9b, 16

Rainbow Eucalyptus Grove by Todd Maurer

Rainbow Eucalyptus Grove by Todd Maurer

Often, when we sermonize about the Creation Story and the Garden of Eden, we zero in on the forbidden tree – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  We think about the perfect life Adam and Eve had, their sin in disobeying God’s command, and the consequences of the Fall.  But to think of that alone is to miss the heart of God in this passage.

What WERE God’s intentions in the Garden of Eden?

When we consider only the temptation represented by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, our perspective of God’s intentions can quickly become muddled.  As we read above, every tree that the Lord caused to grow was pleasing and desirable.  Was He simply taunting Adam and Eve with something they were not allowed to have (knowledge of good and evil)?  God displayed His righteous and just nature by following through on the promised consequences for eating from this forbidden tree – but what about His goodness?  And this is where we must recall the fullness of the story: the two trees.  Though we often forget this crucial detail, glossing over it with eyes jaded by repeated exposure to the story, it is the key for understanding the intentions of God in the Garden of Eden:

“The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” – Genesis 2:9b

The two trees: the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Two distinctly different trees, the first offering life and the second offering death.  This is fascinating in light of Genesis 2:16, which permitted Adam and Eve to eat from any tree’s fruit except that of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Any other tree, including the tree of life – oh, can you see the implications of that?  Adam and Eve were given unrestricted access to the tree of life – this is the mysterious comingling of free choice and predestination within the framework of His love.  This is the sort of love that brings me to my knees.  Just as when I read in Ephesians about the grace of God (check out Intentional Grace), I am drawn again to the idea of God’s intentionality:

It has always been God’s intention to provide life.

The vastness of His plan, the eternal nature of His intentions, astounds me.  When Adam and Eve sinned by eating the forbidden fruit, they could no longer have unrestricted access to the tree of life (Gen. 3:22-24).  God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden and set angels to “guard the way to the tree of life” (Gen. 3:24).  Now that humans know both good and evil, He has made a Way for us to choose Him: Jesus Christ.  The Lord is good – only good and the only Good – and we must choose Him to have access again to life.  In the first chapters of the first book of Scripture, He reveals His intent to oforange tree of lifefer the tree of life – and He does the same in the last book of Scripture.  Revelation 22 is describing heaven, and this is what will be there:

“In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month.  The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations….Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” – v. 2, 14

His intentions have never been secret, and all His mysteries are revealed to us through Jesus Christ (check out Ephesians 3:8-12).  Though too often we focus on that which brought death, His focus has always been on that which brings Life.  Before He rolled out the heavens and hung the planets, before He ever created mankind, He was prepared to provide deliberate grace, offering the sweet Life that comes only from Him. He is the Giver of all good things, and every good and perfect gift comes from Him (Jas. 1:17) – deliberately, intentionally, purposefully.  This is love from the very beginning.

 “And therefore will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you.” – Isaiah 30:18

hands with flowers

The Truth about Fairy-tales

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thought about Disney's FrozenA friend shared this picture on Facebook right about the time Frozen came out.  I have now watched the movie, and it tweaked my brain into thinking about some very interesting concepts.  For instance: being independent and without responsibility doesn’t constitute freedom; true freedom comes with relationship and loving.  But back to the point of what this image says.  The whole idea that women don’t need men actually started with Brave.  Deviating from their well-known fairy-tales, Disney’s message in Brave was, essentially, girl power – women are powerful, men are fools, and we don’t need each other.  (Yes, I was really disappointed, to say the least.)  There also seems to be this idea floating around that fairy-tales are “out” because they just aren’t applicable to “real life.”  But let me tell you that those are lies, and when I say that, I am completely serious.  Let me tell you why:

Fairy-tales are straight from the heart of God.

Now, before you think, “That is ridiculous,” allow me to explain.  There is nothing more “fairy-tale” than the Bible, the story of God’s passionate love for His people.  The idea of this fairy-tale love, this perfect, selfless, eternal love, is woven throughout the Scripture.  That is in fact the very foundation of God’s Word.  You think I am kidding?  There are whole books of Scripture devoted to portraying that love – Hosea and Song of Solomon, for starters – and God Himself is love (1 John 4:16).  By definition “fairy-tales” are something intended to deceive people, albeit in a pleasant way.  Why would fairy-tales be deceiving?  Because surely life can’t actually be like that….Or can it?  Fairy-tales are based on ideals, not on what is but on what should be and could be.  That is how God sees the world He made.  He sees what is but He longs for what should be, for His best plan to be manifest in the earth.  As Christians, we are enabled to see not only the one-dimensionality of life as it is but the fullness of life as it should be.  This is our view into eternity through the flawless lens of God’s goodness.  That is why recognizing the Fairy-tale Heart of God is so important.

Still, that is not the only facet of God’s Fairy-tale Heart.  Our so-called “fairy-tales” survive because, like any other lasting story, they have at their core a thread of truth.  Fairy-tales picture ideals for the roles of men and women, but I want to tell you that those are not just make-believe; they are part of God’s plan for every man and woman He has created.  Understand that we are not looking at the damsel in distress and the cocky hero as models; we are looking at the beautiful princess and the mighty warrior, because they display God’s heart for the roles of men and women.  This is not just about “falling in love” or some romantic fluff.  This is true for every man and every woman.  The gift of nurture and loveliness is ingrained in every daughter, the gift to empower the men in their lives to be strong and the women to walk in the gifts that bring the life and love of God into everyday situations.  The gift of strength and adventure is ingrained in every son, the gift to fight with boldness the battles that need to be fought, guarding the women in their lives with their strength and reminding the men to be strong and courageous.

I do not write this to promote fairy-tales, nor do I write blithely, pretending that every aspect of man-made fairy-tales is good for us to emulate.  Rather, I write for this reason: Every daughter is a lovely princess and every son is a mighty warrior.  To deny that is to deny the deepest God-breathed questions and longings of our hearts.  Do women have strength?  Of course.  Can men be nurturing? Most certainly.  But this is the deep attraction, the reason men and women need each other, not simply romantically but as friends, as brothers and sisters in Christ.  God created men and women to each bear a unique part of His image, and that is nothing to be ashamed of.  Instead, we should delight in it and use that knowledge to build one another up.  (Not sure about this?  Check out the books Wild At Heart and Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge – they are eye-opening and will change the way you look at the sons and daughters around you and the way you see yourself.)

Why, then, I asked, is the fatal lie being spread that men and women don’t need each other?  This is what God whispered to my heart:

“People are rejecting My Fairy-tale as a deception.”

Can you feel the heart of God breaking in those words?  My own heart broke when He said it.  We are giving in to the lies and the brokenness; we are giving in to the pain of ruined relationships by putting up shields around our hearts and declaring that the masculine and the feminine have no place together, that we stay strong by staying separate (though we prefer the word “independent”).   But this is the fear talking; all we are doing is attempting to avoid experiencing further pain.  As Wesley told Buttercup in The Princess Bride, “Life is pain.”  Fairy-tales are not meant to deny that life can be painful but rather to show us what should be and can be.  Pain allows us to see new depths of love.  If we deflect the pain, we deflect the love as well.  Let us embrace with abandon the Fairy-tale Heart of God, who has lavished His matchless love upon us, His Beloved Bride.  He is alluring you; can you not hear?

“The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save;  He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”  (Zephaniah 3:17)

heart“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”  (1 John 4:18)

Love Covering

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While reading through Proverbs again I was particularly struck by this verse: “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins” (10:12 NKJV).  A companion verse is 1 Peter 4:8, where Peter was quoting the original: ‘And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins”’ (emphasis mine).

But what does it mean for love to “cover” sins? 

Junk under a rug is still just junk.

Junk under a rug is still just junk.

I think this is an issue we as the Church and as individuals often face.  Sin is, well, SIN – are we supposed to casually ignore it because we are being “loving”?  Not at all.  True love, as we find in 1 Corinthians 13, is always truthful (v. 6) – and oftentimes the truth is painful to both the giver and the receiver.  God certainly doesn’t just say, “Oh, no big deal.  Everyone sins sometimes.  Let’s just forget about that, shall we?”  No – our sin, our disobedience, brings Him great pain, and ultimately it will cause us and others to suffer as well.

The real problem is that our concept of what it means to “cover” is misinformed.  Love does not hide sin, sweeping it under the rug of ignorance; love always brings light, and with light comes life.

And then I had a beautiful God-thought: love covering.  That is what love does – it provides a covering.  Not to hide the ugliness of sin but to purify and redeem what it touches.  Like the garments God provided for Adam and Eve after they realized their nakedness (Genesis 3:21), our love covering strips away shame and offers wholeness.  Likewise, when the prodigal son returned to his father’s house, the father brought out the best robe and clothed his wayward child (Luke 15:22).  This is what our Heavenly Father does for us.  The love covering He provides is not something that hides sin, but rather it removes filth and shame and guilt, covering the nakedness of sin with the pure warmth of grace.

Now, of course, what Adam and Eve and the prodigal son received were but a shadow of what we now have; our ultimate Love Covering came through Christ: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, emphasis mine).  It is the power of the cross through the resurrection that allows us to lay our ashes at the feet of Jesus and exchange them for a holy garment of purity and fellowship with God.  In that moment, we are accepting His love as the covering that alone makes us whole.  It is exquisite.

This is easy. Loving is difficult.

But that is not the full extent of the love covering.  God convicted me of this recently.  Only Jesus can provides the atonement for sin and thus the final Love Covering, but we as His Church are called to extend His love covering not only to other believers but to a world that doesn’t know what true love looks like.  Love is wonderful when it is aimed at us, but we often shy away when the time comes to direct it toward others.  I know I do, at least.  After all, it is so much easier to show where someone has gone wrong than offer a solution.

It is so much easier to walk past when you should reach out.  It is so much easier to focus on self than it is to focus on other.  Loving hurts, and that is why we avoid offering a love covering to others, that extension of God’s grace that brings life.

“Love does no wrong to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” – Romans 10:13 ESV

We are very good at pointing out faults – sometimes we act as though it were our job and not the Holy Spirit’s to convict others of sin – but we don’t often offer a love covering.  People need to see the love of God demonstrated through our actions and words.  Sometimes providing a love covering means that you step in to fill the gap where you know another is weak.  True love offers strength and hope; instead of just pointing out the “gap,” love stretches to cover and fill it.  True love builds up and does not tear down.  It gives when it does not receive and endures when all else crumbles.  And this love, this glorious covering, needs to be extended just as much to unbelievers as to believers, for it is the proof of His Love living in us:

‘“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”’ – John 13:34-35

Unfortunately, we are quick to rescind this love covering when others make mistakes.  We draw back and begin to cling to hatred, allowing its little roots to settle in our hearts and minds.  Hatred, though, is a two-way poison.  I am sure we can all agree that hating is an ugly thing.  No one thinks well of hateful people.  But did you ever stop to think about the hated person?  The truth is that, just as hating never made anyone better, so being hated never made anyone better.

Your Savior loved you before you were lovable (Romans 5:8), and His love is what makes you loving, lovable, and lovely.  Jesus Christ already died for every sin – past, present, and future – and it is not your job to decide who should receive the covering of His love.  He gives freely and without measure to all, for His Love has already covered every sin.  Hatred is a bitter cup to bear, whether you are giving or receiving, but God’s love is the wellspring that never runs dry.

Will you choose with me today, this very moment, to set aside hatred and extend His love covering?  Only the covering of His gracious love denies the authority of evil and breaks the bonds of sin.  Only True Love redeems, and only True Love never fails.

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May we give as we have been given and cover as we have been covered, for His love heals, blesses, and restores that which has been cast aside as broken, cursed, and bruised.  May the Lord expand in you and through you His glorious Love Covering as He teaches you how to love as He loves.

Are there any areas of your life where you need to receive God’s Love Covering?  Are there any people who you specifically need to extend a love covering to?