I can remember this day like it was yesterday. I was in my college dorm room lying down on my springy twin size mattress with my back up against the cold white cinder block wall crying my eyes out. It was the first time I opened my bible on my own…not with my youth group, not at church with the prompting of adult leaders but on my own seeking Him for help. I had been hurt by the one person that I had already said yes to spending the rest of my life with, my fiance. It was the kind of hurt that made you feel like you could not go on, and it caused me to question if I should walk away from this relationship forever. I found myself asking God if I should leave. Here are the verses that I read: “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22
As I read these words I began to shake my head saying no, I can’t. It’s too hard. He really hurt me, Lord. And then I heard Him whisper so very gently to my soul, Gennie I know it’s hard. This is what love is. Are you willing to love him well? He needs you to love him well as I have loved you. Tears were streaming down my face when I heard a knock at the door. I was a mess and did not really want to answer it, but I got up and wiped away my tears and shuffled over to see who was there. It was Ryan. He had tears streaming down his face and he begged for my forgiveness.
Just this past week out of the blue, Ryan and I were talking about this very day. For the first time ever Ryan shared with me the whispers that he heard from above. He said it wasn’t audible but it was real. “Ryan, run don’t walk back to her and tell her you’re sorry.” He did, and I forgave him. Our relationship was almost over before it had even really started. I am beyond grateful that The Lord was faithful to hear our prayers and answer us.
Why do I share this story with you? This Sunday is Valentine’s Day. A day set aside on the calendar to say “I love you!” Where I like the idea of being showered with gifts of love, I LOVE being REALLY LOVED so much more. Our society today has made love a feeling. It’s about a romantic emotion, but love is so much more than a feeling. Love is a VERB! God’s love is a sacrificial love. He shows us what love means in John 3:16 “For God so LOVED the world that He GAVE his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
We have made it too easy to give up on each other and walk away. Our divorce rate continues to climb. We tell ourselves that if that feeling is gone then the love is gone. The easy thing to do is walk away and give up. The hard thing is to stay and sacrifice for one another, to forgive each other and help each other become better. This to me is what loving well looks like. Now after seventeen years together, we both have had to forgive each other more times than we can count. I now extend that same kind of love to my children. They mess up, it’s hard to forgive them at times, but I continue to say yes. They continue to forgive me on my hard days too. We are all broken and in need of each other’s grace and forgiveness. Who has God given you to love? Can you hear Him whisper, “Love them well.”
In the gospel of Mark a religious leader asked Jesus what the greatest commandment is. This is how he answers, “The most important one is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12: 29-31
Did you catch that? The religious leader asked Jesus for the greatest commandment and Jesus gave him a two in one answer. It would be easy if he had stopped at love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. We can do that, but then he goes on to command for us to love our neighbor as ourself. Now that’s a challenge. “We don’t love people because they’re loveable, we love people because God loves us” Max Lucado. When we do this we are showing them that we really love our God with all our heart. They get a glimpse of what love really is. They receive love and then they begin to soften. What if we offered that love to everyone? What if we loved like Jesus?
I dare you to LOVE! I dare you to LOVE WELL! Offer it to the stranger on the street. Share it with a friend that needs encouragement. Forgive often and say you’re sorry too, especially to your own treasures He has given you to love. Ask God to give you eyes to see people the way He sees them. Be ready to LOVE WELL because this is WHO HE IS and what He does! Aren’t you glad He loves you!!!
If you want to hear the “Love” sermon that helped inspire some of this truth, visit this link from Oak Hills Church. It’s worth the time in tuning in.
YOU ARE LOVED by the Creator of the Universe! Let that soak in and help you rise up on this day and PRAISE Him. He is worthy of our PRAISE!!! #gloryup #truth #love #daretolove #lovewell