Monday, March 17, 2014

Love - It's Not Just a Word

Last week Kevin and I went to lunch downtown, something we do often being empty nesters, working from home and living just minutes from downtown. On this occasion, however, a woman was stopping people on the sidewalk and asking for donations for something. I don't know what. She made her pitch to the man waiting beside us at the crosswalk and by eavesdropping I could only tell that she was asking for donations. When he declined she said, "God bless you."  She then moved on to Kevin and me. We gave a passing, "No thank you" and walked on, receiving a "God bless" from her as well. I can't say exactly why but I cringed a little. Her words seemed so automatic. I feel a bit the same way when I hear, "You're in my prayers" uttered by some. 

I don't know that I can explain this well, but sometimes we Christians operate too much on autopilot. We have our bits well-rehearsed and we play them well. 

I take notes on nearly everything in my life, so if I hear or read something meaningful or thought provoking, it's likely to end up saved in the Notes app on my iPhone. Today I read this note, saved months ago, "Don't tell them Jesus loves them until you're ready to love them too." This song by Steve Camp resonates with me. 

I spend a lot of time with people who have little by way of material goods. People who have lived with one meal a day for most of their lives. People who are immeasurably grateful for where they are today and at the same time sorrowful for loved ones left behind. 

Don't tell them Jesus loves them until you're ready to love them too. Because love is an action. We can see it. We can eat it. We can wear it. We can sleep on it. It is food and clothes and beds and homes. It is a ride to the grocery store or a trip to the doctor, and it is helping children with their homework. It is laughter and it is tears and it is more beautiful and joy giving than I can ever describe. And if you're missing out on this, I am very sorry. 

People say to Kevin and me all the time how lucky these people we help are to have us in their lives. That is fine and a natural way to think, but it is backwards. We have been invited into these beautiful redemptive stories, and I feel so incredibly spoiled that God let us in on this.

You want someone to know they are loved? Then do something. Take action. Be helpful. Make a difference. Jesus didn't just say, "I love you." He did stuff.

"If you want to know what a person believes, watch what they do." Brennan Manning

And in defense of the woman asking for donations, she was doing something. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Oh the Things I Could Be

On Fridays I (sometimes) link up with Lisa-Jo Baker for a writing flash mob. I write for five minutes on the topic Lisa-Jo has chosen. Today's writing prompt is willing. 

I wonder if all of life can be summed up in the word “willing.” Every choice I make, every action occurs because I am either willing or not. Am I willing to wake early to study and exercise? Am I willing to keep the house in order (sometimes)? Am I willing to return emails and turn in expense reports so my desk doesn’t look like a train wreck? Am I willing to make hard relationship decisions, even those that bring pain? Am I willing to forgive harsh words spoken in my direction? Am I willing to let go of my selfishness?

Few things worth celebrating in life happen unless I am willing to give of myself. I listened recently to Shauna Niequist speak about being willing to let God heal us. Her words resonated deeply with me. When I am hurt, when I am scared, when I am in the pit of depression, I must get to a place of willingness before anything else can follow. A willingness to lean into that pain, that hurt, that fear and dig down to its root. Am I willing to walk with God into a place of healing? Honestly, sometimes I am not and I sit in my pain.

Ready or not life is coming at me - in an ever faster and in a hurry world. Every day life requires my response. Some are simple. Some are complex. Am I willing to make hard choices? Am I willing to walk with Jesus in gentleness, patience, peace, goodness, love, joy, kindness, faithfulness and self-control.

Sometimes it is hard. Some days I am more willing than other days to be who I am in Christ.

God, please help me be willing.