Love: Where Action And Emotion Collide

Multiple times a day, I find myself telling the Lord that I love Him. Sometimes I tell Him I love Him like I tell the people in my life that I love them, randomly and out of habit, because I do. And sometimes I tell Him I love Him as a prayer.

Last night, I said it as a prayer. I said it to recenter, to remember that nothing matters more than my relationship with the Lord. Even when everything else falls apart, I am His and He is mine. And that is beautiful.

The knowledge that my relationship with Him cannot be taken away from me is my peace, my safety, my security. I no longer feel like I need safety or peace (or love or understanding or positive regard…) from people because He has shown me that they are totally found in Him. Hallelujah. How blessed we are to be loved so deeply by the One who created us.

I cannot hug Jesus (yet). I cannot look at Him with love in my eyes. But I can love Him in my actions, in my thoughts, and in the emotions I choose to harbor.

If I really love Him, then my decisions need to be different. If I love Him, I will be slow to anger and quick to forgive. I will radiate love, even when I am wronged.

Nothing matters more than loving the Lord and the people in this life. Being heard or right or respected or loved or understood? None of it really matters. And when I choose to act in love, in spite of how I am feeling, I am reminded of that in a powerful way. I feel Him smile at me. I feel Him draw near. I feel His love for me flood my heart and bring tears to my eyes. When Jesus bends down to kiss the top of my head, or I sense Him fist-bumping my mom and saying, “That’s our girl!”, it really helps to put every other aspect of life into perspective. I so treasure those moments.

“I love You, I love You, I love You” is a prayer.

It’s a prayer of gratitude- thank You that You love me, thank You that I love You.
And it’s a prayer for more- Lord, help me to love you more.
And it’s a prayer for strength- Lord, help me to love people with the love of God.
And it’s a prayer for peace- Lord, help me to remember what really matters.
It is an emotion.
It is an action.

I feel like I am just starting to understand that love is an action and not just an emotion. I used to think I was good at loving people, but I’m not always good at living it out. Sometimes the love just gets caught up in my heart as something I feel and not something exhibited. And sometimes I have the opposite problem- sometimes I confuse love and healthy boundaries. I confuse love and letting myself being manipulated. I confuse loving someone and being whatever they need (or want) me to be in any given situation.

The Lord is teaching me how to love better.

Thank You, Jesus, that you don’t just love me in emotion, You love me in action. After all, it was love that sent Jesus to die for me.

And the people I love? You love them, too. I can trust You to teach me how to love them well because we both want the best for them, and sometimes neither they (nor I) know what that looks like and we get confused. But You don’t. You always know.

So help me, Lord, to love You in my actions and not just my heart. And help me to love the people in my life in action as well.

And help me to remember, Lord, as I get better at honoring boundaries, that sometimes the most loving action is doing nothing. Help me to remember that even when I am doing nothing, You are working. Even in the waiting, even in the uncomfortable moments, You are moving.

Thank you, Jesus, that loving You really is the best way to love the people in my life well. Even if they cannot see that right now.

Lord, help me be firm, but not angry.
Help me be loving, but not easily manipulated.
Help me be sensitive to Your spirit.

Lord, teach me to love. Teach me to love without expectation or fear. Teach me to love even when the love isn’t reciprocated. Teach me to love like You.

Faith Like A Child

Last night I was feeling worried about whether or not things in my life are going to turn out positively. The “what if!?” part of my brain was running away with me, and so I slowed it down by talking it through with God. At the end of my prayer, I felt relief and peace and gratitude, and I thanked Him that I am safe and secure in Him and that I don’t need to worry.

And then I rolled over in my bed, closed my eyes,

and started rationalizing exactly why it was that I didn’t need to worry.

I didn’t even realize I was doing it.

I had taken God’s promise to me and, rather than hold on to it in faith, I decided I needed it to make sense.

I did to my worries exactly what the world does to theirs- I found a human solution, a way of telling myself it would be okay.

A way of telling myself it would be okay that had absolutely nothing to do with God or my faith in Him.

I was putting my faith, unintentionally, in my circumstances.

He asks us to trust Him, to have faith like a child.

Life is hard. I’ll be the first person to throw my hands up and shout “amen” in response to that. It’s really, really hard.

But sometimes I think we make it a lot harder than it has to be.

Working everything out in my life? Making it all come together? That is scary. It’s hard. And it’s just not possible.

But trusting God? Just knowing it will be okay, even if I don’t know how, because I know I am loved? That is easy.

As a child, I didn’t rely on my appearance or on others’ positive reinforcement to feel secure in the world. I knew I was okay, that I was beautiful and smart and talented and had something to offer the world simply because my parents told me I did. Nor did I worry about how to pay the bills or whether or not my dinner was well-balanced. I just trusted my parents. I knew they’d take care of me. I didn’t know how, and I didn’t care to know how. I just trusted them.

And of course there’s something to be said for growing up and living responsibly and taking care of ourselves and striving to live a godly life, but our attitude towards worrying is still supposed to be the same.

How my heart breaks for children who have never have that, who had never had a life free from worrying, who have just been able to rest in the love of their parents.

And how my heart breaks for the adults who think we are supposed to outgrow that. We’re not.

We are still Someone’s child.

I am okay, and I will continue to be okay, no matter what comes. Because I am His child. I am His daughter. I am beloved. And so are you.

Faith like a child.

Yes, my faith will continue to grow and mature, but when life feels uncertain and my head is spinning, there’s something comforting about being able to go back to the simple truths I’ve known since my days of Sunday school.

Such as,

Jesus loves me, this I know.

And He holds the whole world in His hands.

Hallelujah!

“Wholeness begins by deliberately and daily receiving the lavish, unreasonable, unfailing love of God all the way into our marrow.”

How true that is. The world demands so much from us. Each day is filled with challenges, whether in circumstances or with people or in how we think.

Nothing has freed me or provided me more healing than resting and relying in the love of Christ.

The world, even the darkest the world has to offer, holds no power over me.

Hallelujah!

Speaking of hallelujah,

“God’s chief goal is to deepen each of our relationships with Him. He knows that if we don’t see our need for Him, we will never understand how sufficient and wonderful He is. Therefore, He continually challenges us to live beyond our natural abilities.”

I love that. I am so grateful that God wants me to know Him and love him more deeply. I love that we have the same goal.

Trials? Struggles? Suffering? They are worth it if the result is knowing and loving the Lord more deeply.

Again, I say, this world holds no power of me.

Because my God is in control.

Hallelujah.

🙂

“[God wants] to simplify our beliefs until our relationship with Him is exactly like that of a child–a relationship simply between God and our own souls, and where other people are but shadows….Until we can come face-to-face with the deepest, darkest fact of life without damaging our view of God’s character, we do not yet know Him.”

Because He First Loved Us

Life is a constant, every day exercise in faith, isn’t it? Ultimately I’m grateful for that. Even though it’s uncomfortable, I appreciate the opportunities to increase my faith in Him because I want to know that I am growing in the Lord.

I am even grateful for my unending dependence on Him because it adds a whole new level of gratitude to the fact that I am never alone.

If we didn’t need Him, how much would His promises to us mean? My need for Him and His ability to unfailingly meet my needs, it draws me to Him in love and leads me to worship Him in complete awe. Struggle, suffering, discomfort? All so worth it in exchange for that.

Life is hard. It’s really, really hard. And people are difficult.

Sometimes I think I am way too sensitive to exist in this world. I am too tender-hearted. I am not wired for a world so cold. It is too hard for me.

And when I feel that way, it makes me want to hide. I want to hide my head and separate myself from humanity. And sometimes I do. But God calls us to love Him and love others. He doesn’t say that we can opt out of loving them if they are unloving towards us in return or if our hearts are bruised.

I mean, did Jesus?

And you know what else? God says nothing is too hard for us because He is with us. So when I feel tempted to hide, fueled by the belief that it’s “too hard”, I am believing a lie.

God cares about my heart. When it’s bruised or broken, He cares. And He tends to it. My heart matters to Him. Hallelujah that my heart matters to Him! But I cannot let the condition of my heart cause me to believe lies. I cannot let it make me cynical or bitter or unloving. I cannot let it makes me doubt my ability to have a positive impact on this world and the people in it.

God will take care of me, He will give me what I need, and so I need to venture forth where He calls me. Boldly. I need to worry less about making sure all my needs are met, and worry more about giving to the world what I can.

I need to be loving.

I need to worry less about receiving love. I need to worry less about whether or not I’m liked or what people think about me or say about me when I’m not around. I need to just live my life cloaked in purpose and the knowledge that yes, I am too sensitive for this world, but that’s because this world isn’t my home! And that, rather than being disheartening, is such a beautiful thing! Heaven – what a splendid promise! Home is waiting, but for now, I have something to accomplish here.

And it’s not all work. Thank God He loves us. Thank God there are ample opportunities in life to laugh and smile and love people who love you back. Thank God our happiness matters to Him.

With every struggle, with every obstacle I encounter, I find myself thanking Jesus anew for what He was willing to do for us by coming to this earth.

It brings tears to my eyes.

And honestly, I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I will gladly suffer if it means that I will come to know the Lord more.

And I will gladly love people who are hard to love because I know, in what Jesus preached but also in how He lived, that it matters to Him. More than anything else. And loving the people He created? Aside from loving Him, it’s the greatest way I can worship Him. If I am truly grateful and if I truly love Him, I will live like I do.

And when it gets “too hard”? I pray. I turn to Him. He will supply the love, the patience, and the strength. I just have to venture forth obediently.

Thank you, Lord. Thank you that You heal all. Thank You that you are my strength and my comfort. You are my hope. You are every relationship in my life that I am lacking. You are the hug that gets me through the hard moments/days/weeks.

You are the voice of Truth.

And while Satan would love to have me believe otherwise, the voice of Truth says I am loved, I am capable, and I am going to be okay.

Love on, dear heart. God is with you.

I am so grateful that He loves us.

Lord, Help Us To Know You

Did you know that when Jesus said in John 14:21 that He will show Himself to His followers, the original word for “show Himself”, emphanizo, meant: “To let oneself be intimately known and understood”? In other words, Jesus said He would “let [Himself] be clearly seen by [His followers] and make [Himself] real to [them].” He also made it clear in John 14:23 that “this particular ‘disclosure,’ ‘manifestation,’ or ‘making plain’ would not occur in heaven but on earth.”

In other words, we don’t have to wait! God isn’t hiding from us or trying to remain mysterious. He wants to be known- intimately!

Isn’t that a beautiful thought!? And yet, if He loves us, of course He’d want us to know Him! What kind of relationship is based on being closed off and impenetrable?!

“We are not yet fully believing God! If we were, we’d be so astounded and delighted in Him and living so far beyond ourselves that we wouldn’t be able to contain our joy.”

He wants to be known. I find so much joy in knowing that there is more. There is always more to discover and know and learn. I find so much joy in the fact that life isn’t meant to be boring or mediocre. The Lord wants us to come fully alive in Him.

 

“I am convinced that the essence of abundant life is simply put: an abundance of God in our lives. I don’t just want to do the church thing. I want to experience God every day of my mortal life! And walk with Him as surely and vividly as I could walk with flesh and bone. I want to see His glory that the prophet Isaiah said fills the earth. I don’t just want to be saved from destruction, as thankful as I am for the deliverance. I want to bask in the favor of his pure presence. I want God… and a lot of Him!…I want to know Him on this earth as well as a moral can know Him. Don’t you? Then let’s pray toward that end!…Every day of our lives. More of Your Spirit, Lord. More of Your Spirit.”

Yes, Lord. That is my prayer.

“Isaiah 6:30 tells us the earth is full of His glory. Beloved, I don’t believe I’m stretching the text when I say the glory of our Lord Jesus surrounds us constantly. We are perpetually surrounded by means through which He could show us His worth, His providence, and His presence. We don’t want to miss them!”

He Is Able

“I am the vine; you are the branches. if a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Increasingly, I am discovering the importance of fully residing in God.

I think it’s natural for humans to put faith in themselves and their abilities, but that isn’t where we are supposed to find our strength. Self-confidence isn’t a spiritual fruit for a reason. Our confidence is supposed to be in Him alone, and the knowledge that our God is good and that He is eager to work through us. Our faith is supposed to be in Him.

We are supposed to find our security and identity in God because it’s only when we are secure in Him that we are unshakable. Self-confidence is fragile and easily influenced by our failures, triumphs, and the opinions of the world. But when we go through life relying on ourselves and letting the world tell us who we are or how much we have to offer, we make ourselves dangerously vulnerable.

Following the Lord opens us up to unspeakable joy and love, and residing fully in Him gives us the power to do big things with our lives, but following the Lord also means that there will inevitably be opposition- from the world and from Satan. The world doesn’t understand people who have their sights set on God, and Satan would love nothing more than to discourage us from thinking we can fulfill a higher purpose.

God’s voice has to be the only one that matters.

If I go through life asking myself whether or not I am equipped or capable to accomplish the task before me, I am doing life wrong. My abilities are irrelevant if I am going obediently where God has called me. He is our strength. He is our power. He is why we are able.

“The last thing Satan wants is for our lives to bear much fruit. He will do everything he can to discourage us, accuse us, and try to condemn us…We will always give Satan plenty of ammunition to discourage us. If we don’t literally camp in the love of Christ, we will talk ourselves out of untold fruit by dwelling on our own unworthiness. Accept the fact that we are unworthy and we’re lavishly loved by a God of redemptive grace. next notice another great offer. God provides.”

More

In my last post, I wrote about the scene in the Bible where Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding. In the Beth Moore book I’m reading, she made the scene come alive for me in a fresh way by giving Mary more modern words: “They have no more wine. And, Son, You’re the only one who can give them what they need–more.”

How true that is. How often I go looking for “more” in things that aren’t Him.

Lord, direct my focus. Help me to remember that there IS more. There is. I have never explored all of what You have to offer. Help me to remember, however, that to seek “more” in anything apart from you is foolish.

“Beloved, you can take this one to the spiritual bank: any compulsion for too much of anything is symptomatic of the honor and urgency of emptiness. Far too many people think that the ‘good Christian thing to do’ about our gnawing emptiness is get a grip, stop whining, and live without for the rest of our lives. If that’s what we do, we miss the very first miracle Jesus came to perform! John’s Gospel came along to give us the best of good news. We were never meant to live with emptiness! We were meant to be full; His children were all meant to receive His fullness in one blessing after another! Let me echo a precept underscored continually through this look at abundance. We were created to be full. When we’re not filled with the good things Christ came to bring us, we will grasp at anything as a substitute. An unsatisfied soul is an accident waiting to happen…Dear one, how tragic for us to continue with pangs of emptiness. What a waste! Christ came to bring us a [fullness]! Stop feeling guilty because you crave lots of joy in your life. You were made for joy!”

Lord, fill us with You. Fill us with joy and life and love overflowing.