Sunday, September 7, 2014
Love is a Choice.
I said this to my girl after she had an argument with her brother. She expressed her disagreement with this statement, insisting it was something you feel. I explained that it can be something you feel but it is also something you choose in the hard moments when your feelings tell you to rage, to yell, to tear down or to cut up with your words. I explained that what she says impacts her brother in some deep and significant ways. I had recently read an article about how a mother explained to her daughter; that what her daughter says to her sister may matter even more then what they, as parents, say. And that her sister's self esteem can be easily built up or torn down with her words. I explain this to my girl but she doesn't want that responsibility, I can see it in her eyes, in her face. It is weighty. I know that talking to her about all this is good but teaching her to live it, walk it and breathe it is better. We talked some more and I asked how Christ showed His love. She responded that He died on the cross for her sin. I dig deeper with her. I ask her if she thinks Jesus felt like like dying that day? She shakes her head - she knows He asked for this task to be removed from Him while He prayed that evening in the garden. But He did His Father's will and He died for us with great love. It was a choice. I press further, what is His will for us?? A question was asked of Jesus in Matthew 22:36-40 "Teacher. what is the greatest commandment in the law?" He replied "Love The Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: 'love your neighbour as yourself', all the law and prophets hang on these two commandments." These words were put to the test that day at the cross when Jesus enacted and became love for us when He died. She shakes her head and says: "Well, can he (her brother) treat me badly then?" I say "No, he can't. Love doesn't mean you don't have boundaries. Forgiveness and turning the other cheek doesn't mean you ignore bad behaviour or explain it away. It means you love them to forgiveness, hold them accountable and then work together to repair what is broken. Christ does that too, in His relationship with us, it's the message of His word! He loves us to forgiveness. He doesn't let us off the hook, He still calls us to account but also provides a way back to Him to repair what had been broken." I can see she understands this on an elementary level but she needs to work on how she responds - we all need to work on how we respond. It will be difficult and require patient teaching. A family needs to be a safe haven for this growth not a hindrance to it. It is our responsibility to provide this haven and security by both our example and by our teaching. To come along side of them to spur them on to good - the good message of the gospel.
As I prayed about all of this I felt The Lord drawing me towards teaching them how to really love each other, with 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 as our foundation for the framework of love. I have called it: 'Project - Be Love. It is obvious that if all the law and prophets hang on these commandments of loving God and others then we need to lean into God's understanding of love, to find out what exactly that entails; what it really and truly means. He hasn't hid that understanding from us, it's all in His precious word. Scripture indicates that love isn't all flowers and roses, it is hard and painstaking work, at times. It IS a choice - one of the greatest kind. Jesus' death clearly shows us that.
So, on Monday morning we start Project - Be Love. I have a few ideas about what that will look like over the next several weeks. It will certainly begin with the memorization of 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. When we have scripture firmly lodged in our minds, the more likely we are to recall it when we need it the most. It will involve a deeper study of the scriptures as we take each thought in that passage and compare it to other parts of scripture for clarification, for understanding and for wisdom. It will also involve each of us submitting to one another, being accountable to each other for the way we choose to love and being very intentional about it.
I will be blogging about it each week. I trust that God will bless this journey, give us insight and understanding and I believe He will do great things.
Posted by Cindy at 3:51 PM
Monday, September 1, 2014
These past couple of months have been extremely difficult for our family and I would like to share what has been happening.
My husband had elective surgery on July 9th, the surgery was not complex and usually straight forward but it did not end up that way for him. He developed some complications post surgery - an infection and then an abscess that was roughly the size of a grapefruit. By the time this developed, which was two weeks after the initial surgery, he was in serious shape. On July 22nd, he was in hospital having emergency surgery. They needed to drain the abscess. The next day, the 23rd, he was back in the OR having the wound de-brided and repacked. The next several days were difficult as he experienced daily repacking of the wound. Despite being on a heavy IV narcotic, he was still in a lot of pain during the repacking of the wound. In total he was in the hospital for 6 days before he finally came home. It didn't stop there though, we have had a nurse coming every day to the house to repack the wound. His healing has been far from straightforward. He's had to go on several courses of antibiotics as the infection threatened to come back and was back in the hospital for more ultrasounds and Doctor appointments. As of today, September 1st, we are still in the middle of every other day packing. The wound is sluggish to heal but he has not had to take pain meds for the repacking and it is healing. He is certainly MILES from where he was and we are in the home stretch now.
This has been difficult for all of us, him especially. At one point, I was very fearful of losing him, because he was just so sick and I fretted about other complications that may arise. Through the midst of all of it; we learned to rely on God in deeper ways. We learned that we really are not in control of some of the things that happen to us. Prayer became pivotal as the healing progressed at such a slow rate with more hitches.
My word for the year, the one I chose, was prayer. This has stretched me to the point where prayer is something I breath. Prayer is NOT my initial response, I do get there and once there am in it for the long haul but it's not the very first thing I do. The first thing I do is panic, and my mind strays every which way. I have become keenly aware of how important of a habit this is to develop - where prayer becomes more my second nature. While on morning walks with the newest member of our family (our lab, Miley) I have used that time to talk to God and especially to work on scripture memorization. It's been such a peace filled time. These walks have welcomed me to slow down and be still, be quiet with the Lord, committing His words to memory. I love to read scripture and do, all the time, but I struggle with memory work. This is an important skill to learn. And the more I commit His words to memory, the more they become apart of my initial response.
Further, I have had to come to grips with the fact that nothing happens to us that God is not aware of. Whatever we face, He is allowing to happen; He desires for us to come to His throne and seek His face. The response to all the external events reveals the internal condition of my heart. This is where He works.
My responses, my actions, to all things external live inside of a brand new day. They will affect me, my relationship with God, and all those who enter into the moments of my day. It's been very difficult the past few days as I have struggled with why my husband's wound is taking so long to heal. I am tired and cranky as of late. It's hard watching my husband go through this and I have also had to carry a lot more responsibility lately. I was expressing this all to God while I prayed this morning on my walk, essentially complaining. I am sure the Lord was smiling as I moved on to the scripture for that day. On my q-card today: Hebrews 12:1-2 "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." It's a race, you know, right now. We're almost at the end and it's more tiring then ever and I just want to give up on that home stretch - emotionally implode under the weight of it all. But then God convicts and reminds me that the last leg of the race can feel like forever and would be easy to just stop and not push through to the end. Matthew 11:28 came to me just then: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." In that moment I am reminded that He's before me and even though I feel heavy and burdened He is waiting to give rest. I felt the breath of God as He breathed new life into my soul with His word. And I am reminded, pray, pray, pray......and if I fall and forget, and stumble around for a bit, He's there to make sure I rise up again. I felt so silly and I confessed it to Him, then I feel the grace come and I felt the strength to carry on well up in me once again. And I know - I am held.
Posted by Cindy at 1:06 PM