There are a few things in our lives that make us take ‘stock’, that give perspective into what is going on – a death, a birth, an illness, a tragedy and so forth. For me getting away from the hustle and bustle of our life at home was one of them. Just even the physical removal of myself from the house and the housework can help me once again come back to what is important. Our week in Portrush did just that. I had my 6 most important people right there and I began to think, pray, work out, ponder. Of course many of you will know a holiday with the kidlets is not necessarily a holiday for the adults but this one was different, I had space away from all that was in Bangor and my brain felt a little less fuzzy. The north coast of course in itself is perfect for feeling free, the outstanding beauty alone made me once more come back to the feet of the Creator and have that sense of awe (and indeed perspective).
At this point in our ministry I feel God recently removed our ‘stabilizers’ – as any loving Father will eventually do. He used a number of things to show us that He is control and our dependency, our worth and indeed our purpose has to always be completely in Him. He graciously gave us a year (or so) of settling into leadership, just to find our feet, get our bearings and then lovingly he removed our ‘stabilizers’. This wasn’t easy and I definitely felt wobbly for a while, trying to grasp on to the solid things I knew (even those sinful habits) trying to do it myself and react from my own emotions. However through this time as a couple, for me, I have never felt closer to Glen. I have needed him and his prayers and I am again thankful for the man God gave me to walk this journey with. I am so glad God didn’t answer all those other prayers of the men I thought were just ‘perfect’ for me.
It has been one of those times for us that we have seen God move powerfully and He has allowed us to be part of a journey with some very special people who are walking with God and taking Him seriously and doing mighty kingdom work. We have seen people give their lives to Jesus and trust in Him for what is to come. We have chatted, prayed and spend long hours with people who are broken – we are caught up in what God is doing in people’s lives and it is an awesome privilege and never one to take for granted. I wouldn’t, even in hindsight, change one minute of this precious time with these precious people. Of course with this joy and because we live in a fallen and broken world we have had disappointments, hurts, discouragement and pain. This of course is and was inevitable; I mean we only have to look at Jesus and His ministry to see that He faced this on a regular basis. This gives me hope of course (sometimes).
So this week as I literally bowed on my knees to the Lord, and came to Him empty, broken and worn out once more I ask how do I do this? How do I bring you glory in the midst of this life knowing that I am a broken and fallen person doing life with broken fallen people?
I waited for a profound formula to help just to get through the next 12 months and what came was :-
Love, love some more and keep on loving!
Sounds easy? Not on your life! But everything I read on holiday, every song I worshipped to came down to this commandment. Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied ‘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 neighbour as yourself.
When I first became a Christian I went to Romania with a few good friends and we worked with the street kids. The stories that we heard were horrendous, the stories that instantly made you want to throw up. These kids (some were as young as 5/6 yrs old) were broken, messed up and very much unloved.
God broke my heart for the broken right there on a dirty street with some friends, and I cried like I had never done before for a few of those precious lives. In that dirty street God changed everything, He changed my core! I immediately had a heart for the broken.
The broken, the hurt, the angry, the abused, the outcasts, the unloved, the forgotten, the abandoned, the poor, the marginalized are not just found on the streets of Romania. They are found in your neighbourhood, at the school gate, in your work place, your school, your ride home, your night out, your church! There can be one found behind every twitter account, every facebook page. The hurt aren’t just somewhere else! Ha there is one sitting behind this computer!
God wants us to love, be faithful and considerate, be available, and forgive (7×70) He wants us to be consistent, steadfast, be a plodder and keep loving.
What about those people who have hurt you and perhaps it is hard to love them (I understand that pain) and for me I have had to work out what God wants me to do in every situation – sometimes it is better to bless them, pray for them, love them but walk away. The majority of the time however for me, it mainly comes down to dying to me. It’s going the extra mile, even when I feel foolish or embarrassed or walked over. I keep going, hold my head up high and in those situations as hard as it is I do it for the one who loved me first! Giving that word of encouragement, speaking to those who have hurt you, praying for them, letting go and remembering this is all for Him and because of Him.
I have realised that without working through that forgiveness or learning to love the way God wants me to do all I am left with is a root of bitterness and all that will do is spring up and cause trouble (Hebrews 12:15).
One day I will (alone) stand before the throne of God and He will ask me to give an account of the things I have done in my life and all I want to hear are those precious words ‘well done good and faithful servant’ . Which is why here on earth I don’t want to be fooled by mans empty praise but know that my inheritance, my joy, my all in all is for the High King of Heaven!
So I urge you… be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love! (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)
I’ll finish with one of my favourite quotes from C.S Lewis:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”