Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Extravagant Love

It's happening. The pink and red title-wave of heart-shaped candies, balloons, and bouquets of blossoms fill the retail stores waiting to be given away ––all in the name of love.

This is one week when people are not obsessed with selfies but are more likely to take pictures of beautifully plated food, stemware filled with wine with a beaming couple enjoying the holiday set aside to display your love for another.

When I was single, navigating life in the face of loss, being a mom of little loves, working to pay the bills, do the laundry and scoop the snow off the sidewalk, Valentine's Day was at the top of my list of terrible, horrible, awful, bad days.

I dreaded it. I avoided it. I was glad when I could fall into bed at the end it.

It was probably the worse holiday for increasing the awareness of my aloneness.

Or that's how I thought. Really.... who is ever alone when you have small children?

Unfortunately, I placed too much weight of who I was and how loved I felt...... in my single status.

That was before I knew anything about the real Love.

This is when people showed up and loved on me in the mess.

If love is a verb ––and it is–– then these people were the action that showed Jesus to me. They didn't love me without truth and they didn't give me the truth without love, but with their lives, they lived something different.

It drew me to Jesus.

Thank goodness for those people who preached the gospel to me with acts of love and the way they lived ––more than words.

They understood that Love was intended to be given away not gathered up like a dozen roses on display.

Those years? I wish that I would have shifted the focus off myself and onto those around me. I think I would have moved through the grief process faster. What I know is that it was a thousand acts of love that introduced me to the Lord.

I know of a woman who was sinking under the load of loneliness and whose life was about to take another turn for the very worse. She could not see how her life could ever be different. Other women had been loving extravagantly on her.

Honestly, this precious soul didn't even know how to respond to true Love.

Until Friday.

That's when she looked at my friend and wailed, "I just want what you have!"

It was the Holy Spirit who opened her eyes to the truth but it was His people living out many acts of love that opened her heart.

And all of Heaven rejoiced that people lived the kind of life that displays Christ.

I'm still amazed at how God works.

There are so many people who need to see a love that is real.

This morning the names of people who could use some love started forming in my head.

People who probably won't be receiving a single phone call or box of candy or even a stuffed bear with a big ugly nose. We hauled one of those oversized things to the second-hand store not too long ago that had been a gift of endearment to one of our children. Nothing says love like fake fur and polyfill.

Perhaps these men and women who came to mind, aren't like I was. Maybe it doesn't bother them to be alone.

Maybe they know how loved they are and that God sees every tear and hears every prayer.

But maybe not.

They might need someone –– like me–– to tell them that I care.

It could be that I'm the one God is wanting to use to make one person feel seen and heard and loved.

And what does that look like?

Love is patient, kind, & does not envy.

Love doesn't boast & isn't arrogant.

Love isn't rude. 

Love does not insist on its own way.

Love isn't irritable, or resentful.

Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing.

Love rejoices with the truth. 

Love bears all things.

Love believes all things.

Love hopes all things.

Love endures all things.

Love never ends. 

Trust steadily in God, 
hope unswervingly, 
love extravagantly. 
And the best of the three is love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Can I encourage you to go back and read those lines slowly? Please don't let the familiarity of them cause you to miss the gift of them?

The Gospel never stops being a miracle.

That season of aloneness has given me better eyes to see those who might need a visit, a card or maybe just a cupcake with extra frosting and sprinkles.

It doesn't take much to display the kind of love that can change someone's day or as I just shared ––an entire life trajectory.

Let us love on our own people well, but let's love on a few others that will be glad we showed up.

Love is eternal, not just a single day on the calendar to live.

This week, who can you extend a little kindness to?


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