“Love isn’t love till you give it away.”
John 15:12 Jesus says: “Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
My cheeks are still stinging….8 hours after the fact. Stinging from tears streaming down cold cheeks. Cold from the wind and chill of the -10*C temperatures. Stinging, hurting, streaming. The giving up of one’s life, heart, soul, strength to another. It hurts. That’s how I know it’s real. I can feel it and it burns. Deep within me. I love deeply and that is where the pain gets me…deep inside. Saying good-bye is never easy and lately I say good-bye too often. It has been said that those you love hurt you the most. Because really, those you don’t care about can’t possibly cut as deep as those you hold so dear. Pain is a part of loving. And loving means opening yourself up to pain. Sometimes the hardest kind of pain. The kind of pain that requires the giving up of what you want, what you need…your life….for someone else.
As we move into this second week of Advent, I am asking myself what I need to focus on . What is it about LOVE that I have failed to get? What do I need to give up and let go of to feel enough pain to love? Comfort? Money? Time?
Sacrifice. That is what Jesus did. He shed all of His Heavenly glory and power to put on the flesh of human-ness. Painful, yes. We cannot comprehend. An infant lowly containing the Holiness of Heaven. Sacrificing it all to meet me in the depths of my pain and need. This is why Jesus came. And this is what I must do.
Do you know what you love?? You love what makes your heart beat faster. You love what chokes you up and rips your heart wide open. A newborn’s cry, the wail of a hungry child, the tears of a childless mother weeping with her stillborn babe in arms, a husband at his dying wife’s side. Your passions lead you to what you love. What do you love? Would the ONE who gave it all for you be pleased with where you have placed your loving sacrifice and passions?
James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
As I sit here and ponder these questions for myself, I think of all of those who have opened their doors to my family. The ones who have given a bed, a home, a meal. The ones who have blessed us with comfort, prayers, shared tears and bread for the journey. And I also must face the ones who have closed the door to our needs, the ones who have disregarded and minimized our pain. They have taught me much. I am so thankful for the opportunities we’ve had, as a family, to experience the pain of rejection. It has awakened us to need. It has opened our eyes to pain and suffering. You do not need to look far to find those in desperate need of LOVE. A warm smile, a gentle hug, a plate of food, a full tank of gas, an evening of babysitting, a place at your table, an invitation to your family gathering……..it is endless…..what we can do to love. This is ADVENT> the preparation of the Gospel to become Flesh. Jesus. Emmanuel. God with us.
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me. ~ Jesus (Matthew 25)
My cheeks are still stinging. I hope they hurt all week. I want to feel what I must do~ LOVE. I must show it until the stinging stops.
I hope it never stops: the sting of Love.