Love thy neighbor as thyself
Updated: May 31
Today at church we had a guest speaker. Timely because - well - our regular Pastor doesn't always have a word in season for me. I know he does for others, but a lot of times I'm just hearing words - my spirit isn't moved, my heart not convicted. Just blah. My lack of enthusiasm plays out in not getting to church on time, or better, making it a priority to get to church on time. The worship and the message are generally lackluster to me.
But maybe...when I think further on it...maybe it's my attitude that's the problem - maybe it's me that's lackluster.
In any case, the speaker today did have a word in season for me. A strong word: Love God and Love God's People. Strangely the same mission of our church, Life Church, but clearly not the mission of my life, at least not of late. I've had more reason to charge complaints against my neighbor and to curse and defame them, then to love them. I've been judgemental, demanding and without empathy and compassion. I've simply not been very kind or very nice -- and my closest neighbor has dealt with the worst of it: Jonathan. He doesn't deserve to hear my complaints about others nor have to continually be harrassed by my controlling complaints and judgments against him. I give praise to God that he has given Jonathan both wisdom to understand my wrongs against him and the courage to call them out - and to actually advise me how to act better. What a shame that a 54 year old woman has to be taught how to live in the fruit of the spirit rather than by the works of my flesh via the wisdom of a 10 year old.
So, without question, the speaker's words cut deep, his teaching founded on scripture from Romans 5 and James 1:
Romans 5: 1-4
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. (NKJV)
James 1: 2-8
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
Through this text he elaborated on how the character of love in our heart and the expression of it is generally produced through trial. That becoming "mature and complete, not lacking anything" is equated with walking like Christ walked the earth and does now as He sits at the right hand of the Father, which essentially is walking "In Love". That Jesus, knowing the joy before Him (our salvation, the ultimate gift of love to us) thought it good to suffer on the cross for our sake.
So my trauma, the lost, the brokeness, the things stolen, the things and people who died, the dreams deferred -- they are all part of the sufferings that I need to GLORY in, and clearly they have persisted because whatever maturity and completion in love that I need to achieve through the trials has not taken place. I know it hasn't. I continue to be the grumbling, complaining, self-possessed person I've always been.
How do I overcome it?
At the end of service, there was an alter call, and I felt to lay down my pride and walk up and ask for prayer to deal with my hardness of heart against others. I honestly don't feel any genuine LOVE for God, for my fellow man, for anyone. I most times just want to be left alone. Yet, at the same time, there's a longing for intimacy and for laying my soul bare with someone and that someone loving me despite me -- it's all about that dream of marriage and partnership, which - well it can be a reality if you are someone who knows how to love in the way you are hoping to receive. I don't. Not yet. Yet, I think now with this awareness and this bowing down to humility to ask for prayer and deliverance, I finally will.
Chris prayed over me and it was good. She beseeched the Lord to enable me to not feel shame or guilt about my actions or thoughts or words against others but that I simply be changed by our Father through the Holy Spirit. I do long to be free of the gauntlet of trial and testing to get to that place of completion - or to at least have a time of respite and rest from it so that I don't always feel so under it. However, I also have to remember that He is always with me and that He will never leave me or forsake me and most of all, that in the midst of it, He will keep me in perfect peace, if I keep my eyes stayed on him.
IF I keep my eyes stayed on Him.
The prayer was cathartic. However, our Father had much more for me - I believe a sweet reward for finally laying down my cross so that He could pick it up and carry my burdens for me.
A woman I had yet to meet - Coco - came up to me after prayer and said she had a word of scripture for me. She knew nothing of my blog entries yesterday, especially my declarations in https://www.kqivey.org/post/a-year-of-renewal-and-a-persistent-longing-i-just-can-t-shake but by the scripture she read to me, you would think that she did:. Psalm 103:
Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
3 Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (NKJV)
I declared yesterday that my youth is being renewed. This scripture confirms that the Father heard and is indeed doing it. Yet -- there was more here that helps to understand how and why.
I confessed to her my problems with alcohol over these past 8 years and she pointed back to the scripture:
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
This is the reality of what our Father is doing in my life. Instead of drink, overeating, and words of complaint, He is endeavoring to satisfy my mouth with good things - things pleasing in His sight - things that are edifying to myself and others - things that will cement the peace he has given me, the peace He has left with me.
THiS is what will lead me down the path of becoming mature and complete.
THIS is what will enable me to walk in love and TRULY, FINALLY love God and Love God's People.
THIS is the life I've yet to live in the 54 years I've been on earth - but my God - it is the life I so long to have.
Bring it on!