22 September 2009

Love God: and Some Other Thoughts On Love

It's been a long while since my last post. This is mostly due to the lack of internet availability. Although I had found a coffee shop in Hastings, MI that had a computer I could use, I never felt comfortable writing a blog there. I had tried from time to time, but the overwhelming feeling of "over the shoulder" watchers stopped me. I have been thinking about quite a few things lately so I will try to start putting them on the blog this week as I have time. Here goes the first attempt.

Recently I have had the opportunity to speak. Unless you have the same love, it is hard to explain the emptiness ministry can have without it. For many years I have wanted to do nothing more than preach. It has been much more difficult than I had expected to give up regular pulpit time to hit the road. It's almost as if I had to give up a part of me to travel. I know God will use this part of my life more regularly in the future, but for now, it is difficult to give up.

Lately, when I am given the chance to speak, all I can speak about is God's love. I know there are so many other issues in the Bible of importance, but since the revelation hit me that God loves me I can't get away from it. To be honest, I don't think there is a more important Bible topic than God's love. While I have been speaking on this topic I have come to understand that telling of God's love is easy, explaining what God has done to show His love is easy, but what is not easy is telling people how they can practically experience this love they so desperately need. Each person is so unique and special to God that He may commune differently with each person. One day, while giving an illustration, this hit me. I realized that this is one way God has shown me how this love thing works for Him. I wanted to share it here and hope that it helps others better understand how a love relationship is suppose to look and how you too can have this relationship with God.

So many people think that just because God loves them it is enough. That all they need to do is acknowledge His love and move on. People think that because God loves them they can essentially ignore Him and still reap the benefits of that relationship. That couldn't be further from the truth. A love relationship with God is no different than it is with a person. Let me use an example from my own life.

Many years ago there was a girl that I was completely in love with. She was it for me, I knew it, and it was settled forever, as far as I was concerned. I would do anything for this girl. I would buy her flowers, tickets to concerts, dinner at expensive restaurants, you name it, I would do it. If she needed emotional support, I was there. If she needed help, I was there. Whatever she needed I would take care of, even to the point of overextending myself financially. The only problem was that she didn't feel the same. At the end of the day, no matter how much I did, I knew that the relationship was empty. I knew that it was a one sided thing that had no chance of growing into anything more than what it was. I knew that it was doomed to destruction.

I left that relationship broken and empty, feeling hurt and lonely. The funny thing is, it wasn't until years later that I realized that was what I was doing with God all the while. I shut my heart off while He was doing everything He could to show me His love. He was always there, anytime, anyplace, no matter what I needed. I took Him for granted in so many ways and just expected Him to be there when I needed Him. My relationship with God was so much like my relationship with this girl, it was one sided.

The fact that I had been treated this way and I knew how it felt should logically take me to a place where I wouldn't want to do that to anybody else in my life, especially God, right? Wrong! In fact, I found the exact opposite to be true. Instead, I was more eager to hurt others, as if I could in some way hurt this girl by hurting others. I could orchestrate some kind of revenge in life by being this way. I sort of blamed God for where I was. The truth is, it doesn't work that way. You know the best way to deal with someone who has done this to you, love them. This is not because I think God will smite them or heap hot coals on their head by loving them, but rather because they need that love. I have found that when I am most likely to hurt others in this way is when I am hurting on the inside. If I am not feeling adequate or loved, then I would try to make others feel what I was feeling, after all, misery loves company. I found that God was no longer in the picture in my thought life, prayer life, or any other area of my life. I could feel His presence from time to time. I could tell He was wanting to work in my life, but I was shut down to Him and what He wanted. The hurt that I felt inside was only amplified by my lack of love relationship with God.

How do we fix it then? It's not simple, but just like we are willing to pursue those we love and do what it takes to show our love to them , we need to pursue love relationship with God. We need to find ways to build a solid, two way relationship of love with Him. In order to experience God's love to it's fullest potential you need to be actively pursuing a love relationship with Him. Pray, spend time in the Word, and listen for and follow His direction for your life. Lift up daily praise to Him for what He has done and open your heart to be used in any capacity to share this love with others.

So a quick side note, how do we love those that have hurt us? I couldn't love this girl the same way as before without causing more damage in my life. Thank God that there were plenty of opportunities to show love without putting ourselves in any emotional danger. Here are a few things I learned in my life.

First thing is that you need to pray for them. Give them to God so He can fill them with His love. One truth I've learned is that until you let God fill you with His love, you'll never be able to maintain a healthy love relationship with anyone else.

Secondly, always, and I mean always, speak well of them. It only makes sense that you would have good things to say if you really did love them. Don't let yourself be caught in the trap of bad mouthing others. This can be one of the most destructive things you can do, not only for them, but you also. People know when they have done somebody wrong. Think about what it would say to that person if they heard the good things you were saying about them. It would speak volumes to their heart. The Bible tells us to return evil with good. Don't let the enemy convince you that this will make things better.

Thirdly, no matter what, don't judge them. Judgment is one of the worst things we can do to others. It caused our hearts to be hardened and it is just plain hurtful to those being judged. The truth is, we don't know what is really at the root of the problem for them. Judging them is only going to cause more harm. We live in a time of the church where God's judgment is delayed in our lives until we have lived them out. He is waiting to see what we will do. He is waiting to see if we will accept His free gift of love, if we will accept His Son as our Lord and Savior. He is giving us the benefit of the doubt. This is a great time to give others the benefit of the doubt. Let God work His love into their hearts so they can see what real love is.

Finally, forgive them. I think this is the most important step of all. This should be the first step. There is nothing more important for your life than forgiving others. I know it doesn't seem possible some times, but do it in faith. You may say, "You don't know what they did to me?" to which I respond, "Do you know what Jesus did for you?" If we can't forgive it really shows that we don't fully understand what it is that Jesus did for us. The Bible tells us that those that are forgiven much have much to be thankful for. I don't know about you, but I have a BUNCH to be thankful for. How can I possibly hold onto and not forgive others knowing that I have been forgiven of so much. I really believe that unforgiveness is the core root of strife and anger. Forgive and let it go to God. The truth is that He is the only one who could do anything about it anyway.

Does any of this make sense? It did to me when I wrote it. Tell me what you think. Has this ever happened to you? Are there more steps to mending love hurts? Can a love relationship with God really change your life?

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