Bonnie Raitt had a well known tune in the early 90’s with the main line, “Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About…How about Love?” Don’t we all have a soft spot ready to hear anything about love? There are so many aspects of love. I love my grandchildren differently than the way I love chips and salsa. The supreme creator of love is the one that enables me to love in any way at all. He made my heart and gave me taste buds. Most importantly though, He provided a Savior to die in my place, that I might never have to die…which is the greatest outpouring of love in history. His words to me in 1 John 3:1 (NIV) though get me every time!
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! “
Therefore, God’s love should really be ever on our lips and on the tip of our tongue for any who will hear. It seems even more urgent today in a more and more confused world. I love the word LAVISHED because it solidifies that I am completely covered in his love. All of me, even the ugly parts. Not one area is unloved. But alas, I have to repeatedly ask myself “Do I live like I am covered?”
I remember being challenged with a question in a conversation with an unbeliever. The question was, “What kind of loving God would bring a Tsunami, or 9-1-1, or send anyone to hell?” I wish my answer had not been so harsh. I answered, “The same God that is allowing you to exhale right now.” Though this is true, this was not modeling that love. See, I had known this great love and the freedom it brings. I had defended it, written about it, but it didn’t seem to be seeping out of me. God is clear when he uses John in scripture to tell us that if we love God, we will love one another. Despite this, I felt like I had spent most of my adult life trying to get the last word in and it didn’t look lovely.
I understood that if a fruit inspector showed up, I might not pass inspection…
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
However, I also knew it was not something I could muster up on my own. So I began to pray for gentleness. Fervently for 15 years I prayed for God to make me gentle and cause me to look more like Him. Many, many times as I prayed, the spirit would bring Philippians 1:6 (ESV) to mind:
“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
I believed he was at work…but then there was a vast difference in his clock and mine. Then he answered me. I was to suffer greatly for him to whittle away the roughness I battled. It was his pleasure to make me gentle. But it would be painful. It makes me think of the words of the skin horse in the Velveteen Rabbit…
”What’s real?” asked the rabbit, “Does it mean having a stick out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made, it’s a thing that happens to you. When a child really really loves you, you become real.” said the skin horse.
“Does it hurt?” asks the rabbit. “Sometimes, said the skin horse, but when you are real, you don’t mind being hurt.” The skin horse then goes on to say,”It doesn’t happen all at once…you become. Once you are real you can’t become unreal…it lasts for always.”
So you see, I even saw Philippians 1:6 in a children’s story book. God was everywhere, showing me that he loved me and wanted to help me become gentle. And if it hurt, I would be okay.
In May of 2013, God had greatly and graciously restored a damaged relationship between my older sister and I as she was hospitalized with no family to care for her. The Lord Jesus gave me everything I needed because of HIS love, to help me die to self and serve her through this hard time. I had been very angry with her as she had thrown away the previous 8 years on drug abuse. A month in the hospital cleaned her system of all drugs. She got her wit, her vocabulary, and her compassion back. It was the sweetest thing to be a part of. I thought this was exactly how God was chiseling at me, making me gentle. She kept telling me how shocked but thankful she was and that she would not have come to my aid if the roles were reversed. I loved her again. I knew it was because of the love He lavished on me that I could love her well. Never knowing that the week after she was released, she would relapse and I would discover her lifeless body on her living room floor. My heart was broken for what could have been. I was angry at God for ordaining that I be the one to find her. Really? Was this part of my Philippians 1:6? He brought another verse to my mind. A similar verse that assured me of His plan:
“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.”
Psalm 138:8 (ESV)
Well, I knew He loved me, I knew He was working in me, and I knew I was sad, but I had no idea that my thoughts and anger were forsaking the work of his hands. The Lord Jesus carried me through that very dark time in a way that I would have never known if I hadn’t been assured that I was lavished with love. I had never grieved so deep. Nothing had ever before happened that took my breath away when I would relive it in my mind. I felt slippery and unstable because it just came in waves and overwhelmed me with sadness. God knows exactly how to lavish that love on us. During this time, my friend sent the following verse to me:
“When I thought, “My foot slips” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.”
Psalms 94:18-19 (ESV)
It was a whole month before I could praise the Lord for the honor of being chosen to find my sister, Carrie. Both verses said, “your steadfast love, Oh Lord.” Steadfast means “fixed…steady, firm in purpose, unwavering.” What a joy to serve a savior that already knows exactly with what and how He will make us fruitful! And like the skin horse said…”Once you’re real, you can never be unreal.” And “once you’re loved, you’ll never be unloved.” How great is the love he lavishes on us that we should be called HIS children! Let’s give ‘em something to talk about…How about Love?