The Law is Gentle

 

No Parking Signs

I first posted this thought at http://www.inspireafire.com/the-law-is-gentle/

Martin Luther famously said that God’s Law serves three purposes. First, it acts as a curb to prevent violent outbursts of sin. Think of a curb along a road, or a curb bit in a horse’s mouth. The law is like that barrier saying “you can come this far… and no farther.”

Danger SignSecond, the law acts as a mirror. When we compare ourselves to the perfection demanded by God’s law – perfection not just in outward action but in thought and desire, too – then we begin to see ourselves in a new and unflattering light. Like a little league star tested against the professionals, we suddenly realize we might not be such hot stuff after all.

Finally, the law acts as a guide. Although we can never attain perfection on our own, we know from the Law what it looks like. We know what to aspire to. We know what to ask God to help us achieve.

And God does help us.

So often when we think of the Law we think of the rules and regulations. We may think of these curbs, mirrors, and guides. We may think of how far we fall short. But today, I’m also thinking of Jesus, weeping over Jerusalem with the words “How often I wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings…” (Matthew 23:37).

All of the law’s harshness can be summarized in one gentle command: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30).

Like chicks under a protective wing, we are called to press against Jesus. Do not beat against the curb, distress over the mirror, or try in vain to follow the guide. There is another way.

Bible in MirrorLove God.

That’s it. Love God.

Pursue Him. Run after Him. Seek Him. Love Him.

It sounds so simple, but there’s a catch. We have to want it. We have to want God more than anything else. More than any other relationship, more than any other passion, more than any other pursuit.

It is a gentle command. Which means it can be so easy to ignore. God will pursue us, but He will not force us to obey. We can choose to love so many other things. And I have found through my own wandering ways that when other loves begin to supersede the First Love, life begins to unravel in devastating ways.

The greatest command, Jesus said, is to love God. That one comes first.

Not second. Not somewhere down the line.

First.

Love Never Fails signAre you struggling? With loving others or loving yourself? With sin you can’t shake? With broken relationships, broken dreams, broken hope?

Refocus. On. God.

Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these other things will be given to you. “You shall seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart,” saith the Lord (Jeremiah 29:13).

It is not a harsh command, but it is the most important one.

Love God.

Love Springs

Toy groundhog in plants

I posted this earlier this week at www.inspireafire.com/love-springs. Enjoy this re-post, and Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

I heard that Punxsutawney Phil is predicting an early spring this year. Legend has it that this Pennsylvanian groundhog can predict the approach of spring when he sticks his head out of his den on February 2nd. If he sees a shadow, he flees back down into his hole to slumber for another 6 weeks. This year, no shadow means spring is on its way.

clouds parting

Regardless of how much trust you have in this furry, four-legged prediction, the real question we should be asking is: What season follows spring?

I often picture spring as a gradual transition from winter into summer. The days get longer and warmer; little buds appear and then begin to pop. Color flows seamlessly from winter greys to joyful hues.

But that’s not how it happens.

More often than not, spring approaches like last year’s rusty tractor. It roars to life only to sputter and fade. It coughs and wheezes and jerks into motion only to stall half-way across the yard. It promises summer only to retreat back into winter.  You may need three different weight coats just to make it through one day, and the next day you may need to wear the same three coats in reverse.

Welcome to spring.

Winter

Ah, spring! Not only is it the precursor to summer, it is also the season of love. I think of that when I see my daffodils shoot out of the ground one day only to be blanketed with snow the next. Or weeks later when  they raise their yellow blooms toward glorious sunshine only to be whacked across the face with a deluge of ice pellets. Anyone who thinks that spring is gentle has never really paid attention.  And anyone who thinks that love is gentle has never really been in love.

What season are you walking through in your relationships right now? Equally important, what season is coming next?

Perhaps you’re in the thrall of romance. Absorb it like rays of sunshine, and let it grow deep roots to sustain you.

Perhaps you’re in a season of dark desperation, not sure how much more battering you can take. Hold onto the truth that the Son will never leave you. Seek Him harder than you have ever sought Him before.

Or perhaps you’re in a season of turmoil as chaotic as spring itself – blown about by life’s demands and twirling in confusion. Identify just one small thing that you can put in order, and start there. Sometimes changes to the smallest tributaries can divert the most raging torrent.

Desert flower

Love is not always easy, but we know that love is always worth it, because God Himself is love. No matter what season of love you’re in, pursue God with open arms. Through rain and snow and sleet and sunshine, seek God. He can bring order. He can bring healing. He can bring joy. One day, you will find that your arms are no longer empty. You are holding onto Love.

Because here’s something else about spring: it never gives up. No matter how many times winter throws another punch, spring always gets back up. In the end, spring always wins.

And so does love. Even when it hurts.

Lessons from the ‘Hood

Sheep & baby

This post originally appeared at www.inspireafire.com/lessons-from-the-hood.

I wanted to hear from those who have been there. Not just read about, visited, or studied it, but those who have lived it.

So I pulled up the contact list on my phone, fingers flying over the keys. Yes, I’ve got some friends in the ‘hood. Motherhood, that is.

I sent an impromptu poll: What’s one thing you’ve learned from motherhood – first thing that comes to mind?

Geese and baby

Lessons from Motherhood for all of us.

Within moments a flood of text messages came back. And one of the most remarkable things is how many of the responses are relevant not just to motherhood, but to all of us.

We may not all be mothers, but all of us – young or old, male or female, married or single – can learn important lessons from those who are. I am reminded of the time Jesus’ mother came to visit him and he said to those around him, “Who is my mother? Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

There is no doubt that mothers have a special calling, and the experiences they’ve had hold lessons for all of us. Here is some insight from those on the front lines:

  • Everyone wants to be heard, no matter how small they are. Take the time to listen.
  • There is more than one right answer.
  • Patience!
  • If you knew everything that motherhood entailed, you would never willingly choose it. Once you have it, you can never imagine life without it. A nice conundrum!
  • Make sure that the first face you give your child in the morning is a positive face so they know they are loved and safe.
  • Nothing is impossible.
  • Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

Love-never-failsReflecting on these thoughts in light of the scriptures I couldn’t help but see similarities. We know from God’s word how Jesus encouraged the little children to come to him, and how he listened, cared for, and encouraged “the least of these.” He mystified the scribes and Pharisees and enthralled the crowds with his teachings and wisdom. He taught that with God, all things are possible.

Love, we learn, is patient and kind. Love trusts, protects, hopes and perseveres. Love willingly lays down one’s life for another and counterintuitively finds joy in some of the hardest places. And love beckons us, not to wait, but to act now. “Encourage one another daily,” we are told. “As long as it is called today.”

Whether you’re part of the ‘hood or outside it, you too can put these lessons into practice. Within our own special calling, we should all go and do likewise.

Have more lessons from the ‘hood? Add them in the comments below!