Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Lessons in Love and Community.

We were not meant to live life alone. We are designed to be a part of a community. (Please take a moment to read this incredible blog talking about the importance of such things: To Write Love on Her Arms.) God created marriage, family, and the church to meet these needs in part. But most of all, he gives us the opportunity, through the death of his son, to have a constant, meaningful, fulfilling relationship with him. He promises to never leave us or forsake us. He puts people in our paths, if even for a short time, to encourage us and point us toward him. But even these beautiful things like family and friends and church will pass away. Nothing is constant except the love of our Creator. He is without time, and without limits. He not only loves us, but he IS love. We cannot even begin to love unless we first accept his love. He gives us relationships to teach us about our relationship with him.

I have learned so many deep lessons about God's love. I learned one when my heart was broken, realizing that the way a person turned from me is the way that I turn from God. The Rocket Summer has an incredible song that says, "I will say that I'm true to you. But I'm a cheat. I don't understand. So I'll run to you." That lyric resonates so deeply with me. We cheat on God all the time. We promise to love him and serve him out of gratitude (not obligation) for the love that he has lavished on us. Yet we turn to other relationships, material possessions, or the worldly pursuits of success or pride. We cheat on him the way a spouse or boyfriend cheats, saying from one side of our mouths that we love him while kissing the enticement of sin with the other.

Another lesson I've learned from the same relationship, now redeemed through God's forgiveness and mercy, is the way that God can love us despite our mistakes. I learned to love with grace and forgiveness when God allowed me to share a bit of the pain he feels at our cheating on him. Now I learn the other side, as I see my constant failures, selfish desires, and the perceived need for control that I so desperately fight, and I know that I am loved despite my shortcomings. I feel the love that flows over me no matter my current state, whether that be one of insecurity, selfishness, or any other offense. I can do nothing to earn the love of God. He can love me no more than he already does. He can love me no less than he already does. This is a lesson that I am continuing to learn from a man that loves me in a way I never imagined being loved.

No matter God's plan, I am thankful for the lessons that he continues to give me. I am thankful that he has designed us to live in community, constantly growing and helping others to grow "as iron sharpens iron." I am immensely thankful for each friend, love, acquaintance, or even sunset that brings me closer to God and mirrors a part of my relationship with him, helping me climb closer to the goal for which I am constantly striving - to be more like him, to love more like him, to learn to rest in the love that he has for me.

To read a truly wise woman's words on what God has revealed to her about his unchanging love, click here: Kerry Hasenbalg's Blog.

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