I shared Psalm 69 with a friend today. Have you ever read it? The “Save Me!” Psalm is one of my favorites. It begins with a desperate plea: “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck!” The writer goes on to explain that his feet are stuck in the mud, his throat is dry from crying for help and his eyes are growing dim from the struggle. As he rambles his mind comes back around to the faithful God who fights for us. He knows that his current state will not last forever. He has hope.
The last two weeks we’ve talked about relationship issues that our culture has presented. We’ve visited about the gender dilemma and the complicated scenarios it has created. We also talked about the hole our culture has dug with its own idea of attraction and how that plays itself out in daily life. Instead of beginning with a cultural issue, today let’s talk about love. Just good old fashioned love.
At its heart we understand that love is not something that can be defined outside of a relationship with God. Love is the opposite of everything our culture proposes it is. It is self-sacrificing. Love is primarily a choice we make to stick with someone, not a feeling that sways us one way and then another. Love is willing to offer more than is asked of it and pursue healing when everyone else has given up. All of these qualities are demonstrated to us by God first. In other words we would have no idea what sacrifice looked like had God not chosen to sacrifice His Son for us. We would have no clue how to hang in there with our spouse had God not first chosen to hang in there with us. We would not know generosity, healing or health had God not first come to us and shown us it was possible. Does this make sense? I hope so.
Let me put it this way. John spends a large part of his first letter explaining this reality. He says things like “A man cannot say he loves God and then hate his brother. If he does, he is a liar.” Love begins with God. But it doesn’t end there. Love is not isolated. It is always shared. A man cannot say that he loves God and refuse to demonstrate the very same kind of love to his wife. A wife cannot say she loves God and demonstrate nothing but selfishness to her husband. This love extends to children, extended family, neighbors, co-workers, siblings…all those God has sovereignly placed in your life.
The problem is many who’ve experienced love are unwilling to love others because of hurt in their past. The waters have come up to their necks and they are done trying to swim. Is that you? Are you done with love? If so, I want to encourage you with the nature of the very characteristic you are trying to walk away from.
Love is patient. It is kind. It is not envious, boastful, arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. It doesn’t find joy in others wrong but always celebrates the truth. It bears all things, hopes all things and endures all things. Love never ends. In other words, if you are done with love, it is not done with you.
You may ask, how is that possible? How is it that a characteristic can pursue someone? The answer is love is a person. His name is Jesus. All true love is given and received in His name. If you refuse to give love or receive the love of others, will you accept my challenge? Ask God to show you His love in a new light. If your heart is too hurt to think of loving again, will you ask God to begin the healing process? You see, love is restorative. It can mend the broken heart and heal the shattered life.
What is the motivation for this lovely speech? If I know the answer to your loneliness, your fear, your anxiety, your depression…it would be hate, not love, for me to refrain from extending this hope to you. If I do not hate you, how much more does your incredible Heavenly Father love you? He has waited patiently for the day to come when you would finally come home; the day when you would lay down all the hurt and shame of your past hurt and ask Him to heal your heart. Is today the day? I love today! Yes! Love is real. What will you do with it?
“Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good…”