The hard part of love

Love is hard. I didn’t realize how hard it could be. I mean, sure I was told that love is a choice and you have to make the decision to love people when the going gets tough. That’s not even what I’m talking about. I’m talking about being loved well.

For example, your boyfriend drops in on you in the middle of a shift and you’re feeling and looking pretty tired. Your exhaustion is met with a sincere, “you are so beautiful.” How do you respond? Does your radiant smile grow bigger? Do you flourish and bloom in his gaze? Or do you wonder if he needs to have his vision checked? Do you become self conscious and retreat within yourself thinking maybe he just wants something more?

Or say he expresses his desire to fight for you and protect you. He wants to conquer your heart and guard it with his very life. Do you wonder if you’re worth it? Or do you let him play warrior as you control things from behind the scene? Or do you rest in his promise and trust that he will indeed fight for you?

Being loved is hard work. Being loved requires being vulnerable. So often we sense ourselves opening and close off all emotions. We may go through the motions of “love,” but we are too afraid to engage in true companionship.

Our relationships should emulate Christ’s love. We should be known as his disciples by our love for one another. This ultimately culminates in a marriage relationship, where two people are (supposed to be) the most vulnerable, the most committed, and the most loving. But it’s hard. It requires work and humility and trust.

No man is an island. We are made to need each other, to need relationship. It would behoove us to learn to love one another well. It would also seem wise to learn how to be loved we’ll. We must learn to bask in the love of our savior and to flourish in the love of our fellow man.

To claim to experience the ministry of the Spirit of adoption and yet to dally with sin is to be gravely deceived.
Sinclair Ferguson
Faith means abiding in Christ (John 15:1-11); it means receiving Christ (John 1:12) and therefore embracing him in total trust. Such trust is always a costly thing, because it involves us in surrendering our lives to Christ.
Sinclair Ferguson 

How we treat our enemies is the litmus test of our hearts.

David Powlison
We have made little or no impression upon the world, for the very reason that gospel doctrine has made a correspondingly slight impression on us.
Sinclair Ferguson, in The Christian Life

I once thought I was in love. It’s been nearly five years now since the sun set on my dreams and loneliness surrounded me like the deepest darkness. In the years that followed I walked through hell and I walked through bliss, but one thing held true, I never walked alone.

"I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." -Jesus

Yesterday I read an article about a Christian man who was lynched by Muslims for practicing his faith. 

Yesterday, I filled up a needy woman’s gas tank. 

So, who is the better Christian? Am I supposed to feel guilty because God has granted me the gift of continued life and relative affluence instead of the gift of martyrdom? 

Put like that, it sounds ridiculous. But so many Christians (myself included) feel guilty because we are not out changing “the world.” We feel guilty because we are still in school, or in mundane secular jobs, or raising a family in our home town. But what exactly is so wrong with that? God has called us to different roles in different stages in our lives. And that’s okay. 

It’s okay to be a student. It’s okay not to be a martyr. It’s okay to raise your babies. It’s even okay to enjoy that and not desire anything considered “greater.”

It’s not okay to be complacent. It’s not okay to be stagnant. It’s not okay to live your life ignoring God and others. 

What is God calling you to do today with what he has given you right now? Are you going to neglect those in your back yard because you are living for those across the sea? That is what matters. 

God will take care of your future; all that is left for you is to trust and obey him today.

Faith is not opposed to knowledge; it is opposed to sight. And grace is not opposed to effort; it is opposed to earning.
Dallas Willard
Meditations on Childhood

I’m a little kid at heart. People have been telling me this a lot lately, and I think it may be true. I also think that growing up is one of the most detrimental things that can happen to a person. Why would anyone ever want to lose their sense of wonder and awe? What’s so wrong with a vividly active imagination? And why is it so odd to believe in a world that transcends our own? 

As people age, the world tends to beat them down. They cease to dream freely and feel deeply because they cannot bear disillusionment any longer. So they grow up. They slip into the molds society deems acceptable and go with the flow. They go through life with all the right motions, yet blank, emotionless, and utterly devoid of intelligent thought. There is no independence, no sense of individuality. There is absolutely no sense of the supernatural. 

Is this just reality? Is this how things were meant to be? I will not accept it; nay, I cannot. I know there is a God above. A God But we have convinced ourselves that we don’t need him. And who can blame us? We move along opulence, never worrying about where our next meal will come from or where to lay our heads. 

We are missing out. By shutting the Lord out of our daily lives we deprive ourselves of deep communion with him- of true intimacy! But the Lord is faithful. He has left for us clues- tokens of his love and reminders of his existence. How often we miss the heavenly nature of a flower in full bloom, the blueness of the sky, the innocent laughter of a child, or the depth contained in the eyes of our fellow man. What precious glimpses of our great father’s love! We noticed these things in the years of your youth, but now they are only distant memories. We have lost our sense of wonder, and, oh, what a loss it has been!

We read of times when the Lord moved- when he healed, when he spoke, when he fed the hungry. We have quenched this power with our disbelief! The Lord has in no way changed, but we refuse to believe in such childish stories. How my heart aches for this generation! These are not mere fairy tales, but realities that are not beyond our reach! If my beliefs be labeled childish, then so be it. I refuse to relinquish my childhood. 

-Joy

Spiritual goals can be achieved only by spiritual people who use spiritual methods.
J. Oswald Sanders