Thursday, February 2, 2012

Love Extravagantly

"[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres" (1 Corinthians 13:7).

"How do we love in difficult places?", Ann Voskamp asks. Is it as simple as the words of 1 Corinthians 13?

During trying times I usually find my way back to...self. Protecting myself, trusting in myself, hoping in myself. Old habits die hard. But that's not what love is.

In Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus tells us to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself." Notice how it doesn't say love yourself?

Why is it when difficulties come it is so easy to forget about love?

"For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him" (Matthew 12:34-35). It's because I feel. I get caught up, caught up in myself and my own fears and hurts. I forget. And sometimes I lose hope.

But God doesn't often leave me there. Once the initial storm cloud dissipates He reminds me, sometimes through a song, sometimes through others. And sometimes it's always been there, a quiet knowing, but I have gotten in my own way. When things seem bleakest, there is ALWAYS hope. And if I can steer myself back to 1 Corinthians 13 and love that way, even if I'm not feeling it, that this is how God wants me to respond to others.

This "man God has given me to love for the rest of my life" and I don't always see eye to eye. Sometimes we find ourselves scrambling for the Light in the midst of a dark time. When the very thing we feel the least like giving is the very thing that will bring us out of the pit.

"I'm bankrupt without love" (1 Corinthians 13:3 The Message). Bankrupt. Empty. Just like the pit.

How do I love in difficult places? I put on love. I hang on to hope. I keep going until the end. I trust. But not in myself. I give it away. I surround my husband with it, my children. And I try remember to...

"Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly" (1 Corinthians 13:13 The Message).

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