I am sure you have heard the saying, “If you love something, set it free… if it comes back, it’s yours, if it doesn’t, it never was yours.” Well I pretty much have believed that most of my life. Not sure why I believed it because I didn’t even really know what true love was and is until I came to know the Lord in 1992. Maybe it was the eternal optimism that God placed in my heart when He was knitting me together in my mother’s womb. Believing it and understanding it, is however, two different things. And it has taken years for me to truly comprehend what true love entails. Yes, 1 Corinthians 13 describes what love is but how many of us really; truly understand it enough to accept all that it encompasses.
When I read the ‘love chapter’ in God’s Word, there are specific things that stand out to me. I am sure it may be different for each one of us. Perhaps because of our experiences or even our own weaknesses that we tend to emphasize one or more of the items in God’s list.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;
6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. ……..
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
I was reading an article from the website, Bible Knowledge and came across this paragraph below and it immediately made me think of those who do extraordinary acts of love or kindnesses to others. Someone who gives an organ to save another’s life, a soldier who bravely throws himself in harms way to protect those he fights along side, a couple who forgives and then witnesses to the one who murders their son, the spouse who forgives and stays with the mate after an adulterous affair. Those are moments that cause others to wonder why or how someone can look past the pain involved or the evil inflicted. In most cases, at least in the believer’s case, it is the love of God indwelling in their hearts that moves them to selfless actions.
“Nothing will touch other people more deeply than having the love of God shining through you and your life. With the quality of love being an universal language that everyone can witness to – this quality, more than any other quality, will be the main one that can lead nonbelievers to salvation in the Lord and lead other believers into a deeper walk with God.”
Now I must admit to you that these opportunities have not presented themselves to me, however, I have witnessed them in friends. I have had opportunities to forgive those who have hurt me deeply. To some that may not be a huge thing in the world wide scheme of things. But in my walk with God I have on occasion made personal choices that I felt to be selfless. I would not consider them to be compared to the list above because most of the acts I speak of are between God and I. When I made the choice to forgive those who have hurt me and my children I have tried to stand by my choice by praying for the trespasser, praying the very best in their lives.
It is a tricky thing to tell others you have forgiven someone and then to give testimony about how God worked through the painful circumstances. In order to do that you must paint the picture of events, which often leads to painting the guilty party in a bad light. We rarely paint the picture where we actually tell the ugly side of our behavior or attitude in a thing.
My most recent post was an example of that. Trying to share a painful part of my life without revealing the cause of pain took a lot of thought on my part. Does it matter what the cause was or does it matter what God did with it and did through it? My purpose was to honor God and bring glory to Him, not cast someone else in a horrible light. Yes, I was betrayed and hurt by others. No, I was not perfect in my response. Nor did I show love and forgiveness at that very moment in my life. I was incapable of doing so because I did not have the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of me. My flesh and a sinful heart was the only thing I had to cope.
None of us, who know Christ now, want to ever go back to living in the flesh. We look back and do not like the image of who we were. Even if we did not commit a harmful act towards another, we were still guilty of putting our prideful, sinful self first. We did so in anger, pride or selfishness. When we come to a place in our walk with Jesus where we can actually put Him first in all situations we have then learned to become unselfish, humble and loving. We want what He wants. We love what He loves. We surrender all to glorify Him in our lives.
At present, I have been given an opportunity, by God, to practice what I preach, to put Him first in my life. To extend His love and forgiveness to someone who, as the world says, I should hate. It is also an opportunity to go to a deeper level of relationship with the Father. But the best of all it is an opportunity to glorify God in such a way that would only bring restoration to something long ago broken. Beauty from ashes.
The deepest desire of my heart has been to want what God wants for my life. I wrote about it several months ago, In Between the What and How. . . Feb 2010
“I have been seeking God’s vision for my life, as I have mentioned. The book that I am reading has helped me so much in recognizing the difference between good ideas and good visions. I want so badly to find God’s vision, not mine. The problem I am having at the moment is understanding exactly what He, God, has placed in my heart. Are these notions that I am listing, wishes or are they truly seeds of desire that God himself has placed there. He says in His Word, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 I have always believed that by delighting yourself (seeking to please Him) in the Lord He gives you the desires first and then they become yours because you love Him. You love Him so much you want what He wants for you.
As I read back over the list that I spent some time writing it basically came down to four simple things. To be loved by a good man. To be a good mother. To be a godly wife. To be given the opportunity to serve others in full time ministry. I am not sure why I seem to keep listing those particular things. It is what’s in my heart. My passion. When I dream, I dream of those things…however the picture in my mind does not always add up to reality….”
I have always believed that God had a plan for my life. I also believed that He would give me the desires of my heart. I could never see how they would manifest themselves. I believe that it is because if we could see them our expectation would not come from the Lord. We would only look at the vision instead of Him. We would not be overwhelmingly grateful when it came and we would not be delighted when He gave it to us. He wants us to delight in Him and He wants our love and devotion. Anything else the love and devotion is given to becomes an idol.
So I never, never, never dreamed or envisioned in a million years that He would bring someone back into my life that would bring healing to my broken heart and sweetness to my life. I am overwhelmed at times as to wonder how. I know it is from Him because it is so impossible and only God can do the impossible.
“ For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. Isaiah 55:8
I have told you, on occasion, about my 1st marriage and how it ended. And I told you how God used it in my life to draw me to Him. How He showed me that I needed to forgive the man that hurt me so deeply. He showed me how to let my husband go and move forward in my life. I remember telling his mother that he would come back to me. Over the years I never thought of that of that conversation again and it never crossed my mind as a possibility. Admittedly I have, at times, looked back and wondered what it would have been like if he had never left. That thought only came in the deepest, darkest and loneliest of times but the next thought that entered my mind, “it was not meant to be.”
But God had other plans and has indeed brought him back into my life through a renewed friendship. He has worked several things out in both of our lives that only He could do so I know that God is working out the details. He still makes me laugh and we still have so very much in common, even more so now. It is as if no time has ever passed between us.
I can tell you that God has allowed me to see him through new eyes. I do not hear the words that cut my heart so many years ago. And when I look at him I am not reminded of that pain any longer. Only God does that!!! He received the Lord as his savior after speaking with his pastor friend. He then followed the Lord in obedience and was baptized on Father’s Day. And since that day many changes have taken place in his life and our children’s lives for good.
I see a new creature raised by God. I see possibilities I have never seen before. I am experiencing a love I have never known. It is a love born out of forgiveness, redemption and restoration. It is the beauty from the ashes that God has promised me these past 5 years. It is true that love covers a multitude of sins and it is a love that never, never, never fails!!!
PS…our friendship is continuing to grow… we do not know what the future holds. We have been told by everyone in our life to take it slow….so slowly we are looking forward and seeking God’s direction for our lives…we shall see what He will do!!! Our kids are sooooooo excited too!!!!