Love Must Resist Hate

It can be very difficult to find a way to love and forgive those who hate us or those who have done us wrong. All of us, at some point in our lives, have faced betrayal, been let down, or perhaps have been left with a broken heart. It is natural to either retaliate or feel resentment against those who do us wrong.

Social media does not help us; it has encouraged a culture of hate. I see it every day. Hate has prompted an increase in violence towards people who are different from us in their ethnic backgrounds, beliefs, and social statuses. This is exactly what the enemy wants us to do; he delights when we do the opposite of what Jesus taught us to do: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27).

Jesus calls us to love our enemies. He instructs us to go beyond our selfish selves and love others because He first loved us. Jesus sets the perfect example of how to love those who hate us. As Jon Tyson states in his book Beautiful Resistance, “God loved us even when we were His enemies.  Jesus died for us while we were enemies of God.” We must love like Jesus does. We must be known as people who love because that’s how the world will know we are followers of Christ (John 13:35).

Jesus had all the reasons in the world to dismiss humanity because He was hated by many. Instead, He did the opposite—rescuing humanity when He died on the cross, carrying with Him the sins of the world, including the sins of those who hated Him.

Hate can take us hostage and overwhelm us with negative emotions such as envy, bitterness, dishonesty, pride, and even a desire for revenge. When this happens, our hearts have no room to allow the Holy Spirit to empower us to forgive and to love.

Let us pour out any feelings of resentment at the foot of the cross, releasing any burden of hate in our hearts and allowing His love to transform us.

One Thing Remains

The month of March has taken on new significance for me this year.

On March 8, I will commemorate the one-year anniversary of a snowmobiling accident near Backus, Minnesota. When I regained consciousness, I found EMT personnel placing me on a backboard and loading me into a waiting ambulance.

I was admitted into a local hospital—the same hospital I was born in, ironically—where I was informed that I had sustained four rib fractures and a couple of lung punctures. This was not what I had planned for that day!

In northern climates like Minnesota’s, March is known for its erratic weather. (When I was in elementary school, I learned the March adage, “In like a lion, out like a lamb.”) We brace ourselves for the worst and hope for the best.

Yet even if you don’t experience March weather like this, I imagine you have had a similar experience with the unpredictable nature of life. From one day to the next, we can expect the unexpected.

How can we successfully navigate uncertain days? With the truth found in this song lyric: “Constant through the trial and the change, one thing remains . . . Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.”*

Only one thing is constant throughout change—our Savior’s love. One thing is constant in our failures and successes—God’s unchanging love.

Throughout this month—and for the rest of my life—I will celebrate God’s loving protection during that moment of impact in March 2019, His loving provision in the face of seemingly insurmountable circumstances, and His loving pursuit in my healing journey.

If you’re unfamiliar with this chapter of my story, let me share the briefest of summaries.

God’s loving protection is obvious. I survived the crash.

His loving provision was personal and unique. God lovingly provided capable help at the scene of the accident and a friend to help with logistics and moral support to my husband. The Lord provided me a travel companion, chosen months prior to our travels, who had medical expertise. If you didn’t know, I was on a plane to Germany about 36 hours after being released from the hospital.

Finally, God was relentless in His loving pursuit of my complete healing. Within less than 24 hours after I landed on German soil, a medical exam of my rib cage confirmed I no longer had rib fractures!

Even better, because of this accident, God lovingly—and relentlessly—offered a path to relational healing that has truly set me free. It will be my privilege to share this story more fully with you as God allows.

So, come what may this month—whether it be a violent, unsettling roar from the March lion or a gentle, restorative blessing from the March lamb—I am secure in the love of my heavenly Father, “who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17b).

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus my Lord (see Romans 8:38-39).

Constant through the trial and change, one thing remains: the love of God that is in Christ Jesus my Lord—praise be to God!

*“One Thing Remains,” by Jesus Culture

 

 

God Has Come to Help His People

Women Impacted by Jesus – part 6

We are traveling together through the gospel of Luke, reflecting on women who received “more” through the life-transforming work of Jesus.

Jesus is traveling in ministry, bringing evidence of the kingdom of God to all who have eyes to see and ears to hear. In Luke we read this account: Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out–the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country. [Luke 7:11-17 NIV]

Jesus saw the widow of Nain and felt the magnitude of her loss. She had no husband to protect her and now no son to provide for her. Compassion begins with having eyes to see individuals and their unique circumstances. If we desire to be like Jesus, we must slow down, look around, and be willing to enter into the lives of others.

Jesus then demonstrated both the power and the heart of the Kingdom of God. He raised the young man to life and gave him back to his mother. Both actions inspire worship in my spirit. The power to raise the dead to life! And the tender giving back of that which had been lost. Lord, You are good and your mercies are new every morning!

Drawing upon the resources of the Kingdom, what can we give back to those who have experienced loss? Can we restore dignity, hope, and relationship to others through our time, attention, and God-given grace? We are now the sent ones, traveling through our lives with Spirit-anointing. May we be good stewards of this equipping.

Finally, in this Advent season, I am reminded that God, too, had an “only son” Who was given, Who died, was brought back to life, and given back to us. May we all rejoice in the joy of our salvation!

The Upside-Down Life

My husband and I just got back from a one-week tour of duty as substitute parents for two toddlers, ages 1 & 3.  These precious toddlers are some of our children’s children.  Since there were two of us working fulltime, making the adult-to-infant ratio a reasonable 1-to-1, we did okay.   It’s been a few years since we’ve been in the “diapers, bottles and naptime” epoch of life.   Let’s say the timeframe feels comparable to the Jurassic Era.  But it does come right back.  Like riding a bike.

The other thing that came right back was the “being a Mom feeling.”  Nothing much was really getting done here – just feeding, dressing, undressing, washing, unwashing, entertaining, refereeing, listening, negotiating, coaching, anticipating, teaching, guarding, and eradicating (some) sin.  Pretty much took everything I had to give.  Lots of sweetness and love but no great sense of accomplishment.

There is an idea, not original with me, but one that this brief return to the responsibilities of parenting sort of “lit up” for me.  The idea is this – the totally holy Jesus, our model for life, lived His life upside-down.

Let’s think together about the one totally holy upside-down Life.  The Life started with conception in the womb of an unmarried virgin, someone held in lowest esteem. The Life emerged in a stable, the lowest of shelters.  The Life worked with fishermen and ate with tax collectors, the lowest of society.  The Life presented itself to Jerusalem on the foal of donkey, the lowest of transportation.  The Life donned a towel and washed feet, the lowest of tasks.  And finally, The Life was put to death on a cross between two criminals, the lowest of executions.

It was all upside-down.

Yet upside-down became rightside-up!  Lowest became highest; humility became glory; submission became sovereignty; defeat became victory; death became everlasting life; servant became king!

Mark 9:33 says, “They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, “What were you discussing on the way?”  But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest.  Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.””  It’s all upside-down.

In your home, in your workplace, in your daily routines, you are playing out the drama of following your upside-down King.  This drama is full of outrageous, upside-down opportunities.  Outrageous opportunities like submission: the upside-down way to freedom; self-denial: the upside-down way to self-discovery; giving: the upside-down way to receiving; and service: the upside-down way to exaltation.

St. Francis DeSales said: “The King of Glory rewards His servants not according to the dignity of their office, but according to the love and humility with which they carry it out.”  Let’s use all of our absurd, outrageous daily opportunities to follow Jesus, and live our lives upside-down.