turn all the way

It’s February and it’s the month of love and it’s the longest-shortest month of the year and I want to write about love but I realize maybe I don’t know anything about love and what can I learn in only a few long-short weeks?

Really, what is love? really… love is….

and I think 1 Corinthians 13.

But I don’t know what it’s talking about and I can’t recite the verses and I may just be the opposite of love and I can’t take it so I don’t look . I don’t read . I don’t memorize . I don’t recite . How in the world – the months – these weeks – for this special day can I  live out these scriptures?

I must turn.

I must turn all the way.

I’ve gotta turn all the way away from my sin all the way to the Savior and re.pent.

Repent… repentance isn’t only turning away from sin but it’s turning to the Savior.

I’ve gotta remember…

I’ve got to remember He preached “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Remember He called “Follow me…”

Remember the disciples immediately left their nets, their boats, their work, their father, and followed him (These grown men left everything).

Remember He commands “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…”

Remember He answers “The greatest command is this: love God with all of who you are and love your neighbors as yourself….”

Remember He gives Himself so that they and you and me could have everything.

This is the way . the truth . the life . of love.

Jesus loves you and me this I know.

He loves you and me so much in this way that He gives His life so that you and me sinners dead can have life abundant and eternal.

Maybe that’s when I can know love…. when I seek first the Kingdom of God and I follow Him,  I turn all the way to Him, maybe then the Way the Truth and the Life leads me into His love?

Maybe this is when I love Him with my all and I am able to love others the way I love myself…

Maybe love is wiping off shelves and wiping away tears and putting everything back in its place. Maybe love is hot coffee and sweet chocolate and strong words and sweet compassion. Maybe love is looking into his eyes; hugging her neck; choosing to turn all the way so that you can hold that person’s hand and help them into the kingdom of Heaven with you, into abundant and eternal life together.

Love is this. Love is not pink and purple construction paper and red and white candies. I might like those things but they are not love.

Love is this. Love is not pretty and polite and polished and put together but ugly and painful and messy and unraveled and falling to pieces, and being made whole again by Love Himself.

Love is this. Love is not sitting on a throne beside Him but coming under the Cross with Him. Love is the death burial and resurrection of Christ for you and Love is taking up your Cross and following Him.

Love is not a set aside day for a dinner date but all personal preferences set aside so that my minutes, days, weeks, months, years and life prefer someone else besides me, so that my life turns you and her and every person I hug all the way around to Jesus.

Jesus loves you this I know

and Jesus is love this I know

for the Bible tells me so.

When we are little and sinful and silly and weak

He is lovely and Sovereign and Good and strong

and Jesus is Love.

And maybe this year I will lean in a little more and turn all the way around to Love and hug your neck in a way that turns you all the way around in love to Him… and maybe we will be transformed by Love that casts out fear and cares for all of our burdens and why not now?

If there’s one thing…

Don’t you feel like there’s an easiness when we read something like this in the Word : “love others.” ?

And we think of a mass blanket of worldly faces spread across the globe. We think of strangers and cashiers. We think of nationalities and homeless shelters. We are happy and contented to love all of the others out there, somewhere. We think, we could do it. We could extend open arms and warm hearts and smiling grins to all of those people.

And then we walk from our quiet-time seclusion into the chaos of our kitchen, snap at our spouse and ignore the chubby arms outstretched in anticipation toward us from our child

…. and we haven’t loved anybody at all very well at all.

Those are your others. Your spouse. Your precious children. Those who you call friends. Those who you call fellow ministry workers. Those who you call church family. The people who you can reach out and touch. The ones who’s faces and hands you know so well. Names and lives and hearts occupy ‘others.’

And if there’s anything I want to do while I am sitting and abiding in Christ during this life is love others.

Oh let me tell you – and please don’t let this shock you. Scripture tells you better. I am awful at it. At loving others. I may be worse than you; reading the word ‘love others’ and instead of thinking of a sea of unknown faces, I just don’t think about it at all. Heart of stone, that’s what it’s called.

Oh God! Let me sit and sink into and be turned from stone to flesh, from death to life, from hate and apathy to love.

So if there’s any way at all by the power of the Holy Spirit, because of the resurrection of Christ from the grave, and because of the wonderful loving Creator God who made me in His image, and there is a way! in Christ, may I love others, Lord.

Tyler.

Leland.

My parents.

My brothers and sisters.

My in-laws.

My extended family, God bless them.

My bible study girls.

My church family.

My friends.

My neighbors.

Lord, these are hearts You love. These are hearts You lived and died and rose again for. As I’m in You, may I love them so well. So happily. May this be my response to You, to love others in Your Name.

Do you know how this can happen in me, whose naturally awful at it? Read famous love chapter this way :

Christ, who is Love, is patient

and Christ is kind

Christ does not envy or boast

Christ is not arrogant or rude.

Christ, who is Love, does not insist on its own way

Christ is not irritable or resentful

Christ does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

Christ bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and Christ endures all things.

Christ  never fails.

(1 Corinthians 13 ESV)

Isn’t that overwhelming!? So wonderful!?

It is only Christ in me, Christ in you, who is Love, who can impart love to us, who can instill love for others in us. Isn’t that excitingly encouraging in the face of our own massive failings in living out this love when reality hits us in the face the minute we step out of our quiet times? (Shoot, when we have a hard time IN our quiet time with the Lord.) 

I have HOPE in Christ who is LOVE that I can and will and have the FREEDOM to respond in LOVE to my husband, to my baby boy with outstretched arms, to the long list of people that the Lord has gifted my life with.

CHRIST IS MY HOPE. 

CHRIST IS LOVE. 

So with Christ, who is Love, dwelling inside of us and instilling His character in us, let us, love one another, for love is from God. (1 John 4:7 ESV)