Friday, October 19, 2012

A Well-loved Life

God has had me meditate on love a LOT over the last six months. Specifically, He has had me ponder the verses in 1 Cor. 13 in which He tells us how to love. This shouldn't surprise me because for many years I have told some of my closest friends that I have received more love in my life than most people ever do and I believe it’s true. I am not certain why God has poured out His grace on me in this way, but I can remember even as a very young child people showing kindness and gentleness and generosity to me. People have always had a need to take care of me, even when I became an adult. They often treat me with kid gloves as if I am a fragile, delicate figurine and even strangers come up and hug me.

Please don’t misunderstand. None of this makes me prideful; in fact, it humbles me. I have done nothing to deserve all this love, but it is such an overwhelming display of the grace of God who loves us without measure and without making demands on us and who expects us to love people the same way. Years ago I was awestruck when I discovered Jesus’ words in John 13:35:  “By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”  Jesus could have said they'll know you’re My disciples by your martyrdom; by your piety; by your obedience; by your faith. But instead He chose to emphasize love. Why? Because love puts the focus where it belongs…on Him. He loved us while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8) and loved us so much He sent His only Son to die for us (John 3:16).
God tells us frequently of His love for us. It is the overriding theme of scripture. God did not and does not do anything out of obligation, rather all of His decisions and actions are motivated by love.  When we truly understand this and experience God’s great redeeming love for us, we can’t help but overflow and pour that love on others. Our daily prayer should probably include this idea: “Father, today fill my heart so full of Your love that I cannot keep it to myself. Make me a willing vessel to share Your great love with everyone I encounter this day. Thank You for Your infinite, inexhaustible love.”

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Lost Jewel

“A family that has an old person in it has a jewel.”  Chinese proverb
Not long after I met Aunt Ella she decided to call me Chris. It’s a nickname I've only allowed a few people to call me and then only those closest to me ever used it. I was glad she made that decision; it made me feel like we had a real kinship even though we were no relation. But that’s how Aunt Ella was—strong-minded and decisive.  She also had a good sense of humor and a warm, affectionate manner. Friends and family noted she enjoyed dressing like a fashion plate who at about age 100 on the day she broke her hip tried to insist she still keep Friday hair appointment.  
But what really stands out about Aunt Ella is her faith. And last week her faith became sight when at age 105, Aunt Ella left this earth for heaven.  She had led a good life and set a godly example for all who knew her. Aunt Ella spent her days serving the church and others. Well into her 90s she still baked cakes and pies which she kept in her freezer to take to grieving families or share at a church function.  For her, faith was a way of life that sustained her through difficult days and brightened days of joy.  She was a tenacious woman who persevered through many trials and Aunt Ella quietly and openly shared her faith with everyone she encountered but mostly she shared her faith in leading by example.

With her departure to heaven comes a great loss for all who knew her: a loss of terrific stories that made us laugh or inspired us to live a better life and the loss of more than a century of experience and wisdom.  We have all indeed lost a precious jewel. But thankfully, for those of us who know the Lord, we can rest assured we will see Aunt Ella again and she will rejoice at our homecoming.

Proverbs 16:31: “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” ESV