Wednesday, March 22, 2017

for when you are learning to love: questions to ask

It's Spring.  Where life's changes are seen as much in our schedule as they are in nature.  There are two baseball practices on the schedule tonight which means dinner needs to be ready early which means I cannot do my usual afternoon class at the gym which means I 'needed' to go to the gym in the morning which means writing is happening during rest time which means that any other productive things that needed to be done had to happen first thing this morning which means after all the kids are in bed tonight a bathtub full of bubbles and epsom salt will be calling my name.

Basically from before first light until long after the light fades this evening the day's to dos have wound themselves into a weird and complex reverse version of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie except that there will not actually be any delicious chocolate chip yumminess as a reward.  Or maybe...

This journey from the past weeks of learning to love started as a yes to a command but has continued with many other types of YESes as understanding has continued to grow and places in my heart either with known hardness or unknown places to begin with have opened and felt that warmth of our loving Father preparing it to love in return.

There are many ways that reduce you to a place of humility.  One is to take the time to truly search and study a specific part of your life and begin to see, as you go on, how much was unknown and misunderstood; how much mystery there was in the midst of all the knowledge.

However, there are many ways to build up thankfulness within your heart.  One is to take the time to truly search and study part of your life and see how faithful God is to reach down to exactly where you are, in all your mysterious misunderstandings, and grow and change and lift your knowledge to a place closer to wisdom.

Because of this brief time squeezed in between preschool and elementary school pickups, with Narnia and a 5 year old's commentary as my soundtrack, instead of finishing up these weeks of love learning there will instead be a few questions to ponder before the finale next time around.  Using your words to ask the right questions is a vital step to developing the wisdom we long to have.  Until you know the questions to ask, you might never know if you have found the answer.

Part 1.  We began with just the first step of wanting to love, wanting to learn to love better knowing that "wisdom does not come when life works out perfectly, it comes when you fall but when you get up and try again."  Have you tried during these past weeks and failed?  Lord knows I have.   What situation(s) did you recognize a need to love better or to even let love In to it to begin with?

Part 2.  Defining love was an integral part of this journey.  Love, is an inner disposition that produces compassionate acts that builds up the object of your love.  Constant reflection on this definition has no choice but to begin to change your heart and open it up to not just recognizing compassionate acts but building a desire to produce them within the lives of others.  Have your compassionate acts towards others change and how can they still change and improve?  Write down those ways that you can see that changing in your heart, the ways compassionate acts of have achieved the building up of others.  When you see the way God has achieved that in your so far it will be a blessed encouragement when you also recognize those places where growth still needs to come.

Part 3. Learning the truth that we can't love might be difficult to take but in time makes this whole process so much easier. Have you embraced this truth? Do you know that you, on your own. do not have the capacity to love?

Part 4. We are able to love for one single reason, we were loved first (john 4:19)  It's not us, ever. It's all Him in us.  Knowing this, when a failure at loving occur there is no doubt it had it's roots in not trusting Jesus and trying to love on our own but how specifically is the right question.  In what ways and with whom are you trying to love on your own instead of letting Jesus love through you?

Part 5. ...the beauty revealed through everything covered in Christ is beauty unsurpassed. It is possible to not just live through difficult situations but to LOVE through them as well. Using the encouraging words from Isaiah 7:4 we learned to 1. be calm 2. be careful 3. do not fear and 4. do not let your heart grow weary. Unfortunately in this sinful world in which we live, difficult situations, of all scheme and scope, are inevitable and much more frequent than we would like. What situations are taking their toll on you right now? Recognize them, label them, and lay them down to the one who will not just love you through them but will enable you to love through them as well.

I'm praying for you as you reflect on these past few weeks lessons and, like in the Spring, you see the beautiful changes already made and the ways He will be faithful to bring about more. Pray for me.

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