I feel like the word “love” is resounding everywhere I go and in everything I read lately. As a family, we are working through part of I Corinthians 13 and trying to memorize and process through what love is. I have started studying Acts and when I am reading Acts this go around, I am seeing how the church loved others. And today I finished Richard Foster’s book on Prayer and it ended on a long discussion of love.
I didn’t grow up in a house where I heard the words “I love you” very often. I knew my parents loved me and honestly they tended to show their love through a variety of ways, rather than speak it. Because of that, I have always wanted to speak to my husband and children of my love for them as much as possible, but at times it becomes rote. I don’t want my words of affection to them to become rote. There are times that I ask my children, “do you hear me? I love you and will always love you.” I want them to hear me and know in their hearts that there is nothing they can do that will change my love for them.
As I’ve read through this book by Foster, I’ve realized a few things. One being that the Lord is wooing me to be on my knees more..and to be on my knees for others; others outside my family and my community. I feel like I’ve been in this little bubble that I’ve created. My head’s been down trying to plunge through issues in my marriage, issues with my parenting, issues with our finances and while I do pray for those in my outside circle, they are not the constant focus of my prayers. I feel strongly that they Lord is opening up my eyes to the greater world around me and pursuing me to be praying deeply: for my neighbor who doesn’t know Christ, for one of our coaches who is going through marital breakup, for a friend that is traveling to Ethiopia to adopt, for a family who lost a child last year and doesn’t know Christ. I do pray for these people, but I don’t grieve and groan for them. It is more like a passing sort of prayer….Lord, be with so and so today.
As I’ve walked with Christ for nearly 20+ years now, I am feeling Him pursuing me into a much deeper walk with Him. But it’s a scary thing to move into that next “phase” of relationship. For fear of being flippant, it’s kind of like dating someone, talking about marriage, getting married, being married for years and then moving into that level of intimacy that only a spouse might know or just staying dormant. I don’t want to be dormant. I want to be alive and free. And in order to do that, I’ve got to come to a place where I let go of the world around me, let go of my desires, let go of the hold that society and things have on me and be with Him. To ignore the pushing of the computer to get on it, instead of be in the Word. It ignore the pushing of the dirt on my floor, instead of being on my knees in it. To love those around me with a passionate, agape Love that loves them without any regard for anything in return. But in order to do that, I have to Love God more than anything.
I take from Foster the last paragraph in his book:
Two millennia ago at an early-morning breakfast by the Sea of Tiberias, Jesus had only one question for Peter: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” (John 21). Jesus did not ask him about his effectiveness, or his skill, or anything but his love. Three times Jesus asked, “Simon, do you love me?” Peter struggled for an adequate response to that probing query. Finally he blurted out, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Assured of his heart, Jesus gave Peter work to do: “feed my lambs.”
The same question is asked of us. The same work is given to us.