Saturday, July 14, 2007

"I Love You Too"

Everything has lead up to this point and now it is time. The leading character utters those words we've waited all season to hear.... "I love you" they say. The object of affection turns and hesitates (cue dramatic music). The milliseconds seem like minutes until finally it is uttered, "I love you too." (music swells, lovers kiss, exit to credits)

Ah, that romantic tension, all the waiting and wondering and worrying if this person really loves them or are they just stringing them along, because of course as we all know, if they are in love than all of their lives together will be happily ever after...but that's an entirely different subject.

What if the person had never said "I love you" would the other one had offered an "I love you" first?

Does the responder love less than the initiator because they love them "too" and not just simply "I love you"?

Does an "I love you too" mean that my love is based on the condition that you love me and then I love you too. If I say "I love you" does that mean I love you no matter if you do or do not love me "too"?

I'm reading Gary Chapman's book The Five Love Languages of God in which he gives examples of how God speaks each of the love languages: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service and physical touch. So in whatever "love language" we as individuals primarily receive and show love, God speaks our language.

I was journaling about a particular way God had spoken my love language, happy that I'd actually recognized this gift of His, as opposed to my typical way of living in which I often miss God's hand in my life, and I ended my journal entry with "I love you too."

God said first "I love you Becky" and I responded "I love you too."

Does that make my love less than God's?
If He had not offered love would I have loved Him first?

John answers that question in I John 4: 10 "This is real love, not that we loved Him but that He first loved us and sent his Son to be the payment for our sins."

"I love you too" because God loves me first, and my love in no way compares to the unconditional unending love that He showers on me, this day and for the rest of the days of my life. I could never offer a love that equals how God loves me. In His love, He sent His only Son to be viciously murdered to take away my sin and I in return hesitate to speak his name in witness, or follow his commands when they seem too difficult. My love is hesitant and failing and sporadic, the poorest of "I love you too."

My response doesn't change His love: if I am the greatest of missionaries or the quietest of all the redeemed, if I spend my life in great service or hide my gifts in darkness, if I'm victorious in walking by faith or if I continue to stumble along the way, His words still stay the same. God loves me and because he does I desire to offer back to him " I love you too."

Friday, July 13, 2007

Making the Right Choice

It's allergy season.

This means that every room of the house has a half empty box of kleenex in it and some rooms even have two! I'm up right now at an hour unrecognizable to me because I can't breathe.

Inadvertently I'd bought a box of Puffs Plus, tissues with lotion, and I discovered that they are wonderfully soft. The next time I went to replenish the kleenex supply I intentionally sought out more of this brand.

I found them and they were expensive so I stood in the aisle seeing if I could justify to myself spending practically twice what the other tissues were to get this kind that I'd liked. I was buying several boxes so it took me a while to rationalize it all out and put the softer tissues in my cart.

Those tissues sit beside me now as I write and every time I've grabbed one, I've been grateful that I made the right decision. After weeks of the joys of pollen, my nose is still not raw, and though they were close to three dollars a box, a still intact nose, as the commercials would say, is "priceless".

It doesn't matter how much extra I paid for these tissues because whatever it was, it was well worth the price for the benefits I have gained: even though I waffled about buying quality over the economical choice.

I had a geometry teacher in high school that would say that every time we had a choice to make, what we chose would impact our character. If we made the easy choice it would weaken us, if we made the hard choice it would make us stronger. I had no idea what he was talking about, I was just happy to be taking a break from hearing about angles and proofs so he could talk philosophy all he wanted.

Now though I understand: and through this silly example I'm saying the same thing. Making the right choice doesn't mean it will be the easier one, it may be the one that will cost you more initially.: more time, more effort, more emotion...but if it's the right choice to make it will have benefits beyond what we can initially see.

And in the grandest scheme of all things, here is where faith comes in. God gives us these things for us to do and things to avoid. Some of them are pretty obvious, others I've puzzled over and then there are some that when push comes to shove, like praying for your enemies, it seems just too hard of a choice to execute. But these are God's words, the choices He says are best for us, and I can only trust that if I spend the extra effort that there will be enduring benefits far beyond my expectations.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Being A Buoy

Being near a lake draws my attention to things I typically don’t see at home in the city. Things like circling seagulls and the rhythm of waves rolling to shore, the color of a sunset reflected on the water, and buoys.

Buoys are everywhere around the lake, marking where boats can go, and how far out swimmers are safe. Typically in this area they are white with an orange-red stripe, and they bob in the water, all day, every day, and through the night and then the next day and the next night and the...well, you get the picture.

It doesn’t seem to matter if the lake is calm or choppy or filled with racing white-capped waves, the buoys still stay in the same place, bobbing up and down, sometimes more agitatedly than at other times, but still there.

I’ve learned that they are anchored to the bottom of the lake by a long chain that holds securely to the solid foundation of a large weight.

When the waves crash over them, they are overwhelmed but not submerged.

During a storm they are pounded but not destroyed.
When cross winds blow they are blown sideways but not blown over.

I want to be a buoy: anchored deep in the confidence of God’s love and care over my life as in the prayers of Ephesians 3:17 -19: "And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in Him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is. May you experience the love of Christ though it is so great you will never fully understand it.
Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God."

When life and circumstances whip up waves around me, I want to be able to keep afloat in the distress. No matter how high the waters rise, I want to be able still to rise above them, to simply bob on the surface of whatever threatens to destroy me because I am anchored deeply and securely with a chain that’s been forged by my own experiences of the faithfulness of God, each link a testimony of God’s enduring grace.

And when life is simply like the doldrums of a calm, windless ocean, I then want to still be in my place, bobbing away, with a consistency much like the stars of the sky. Psalms 19 says “The heavens tell the glory of God. The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or a word; their voice is silent in the skies; yet their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to all the world.”

If I remain faithfully anchored to this foundation of God's love even through storms and foul winds and overwhelming waves, because He "fills me with the fullness of life and power that comes from Him," then it will be evident that He is the source of consistency that I cling to in my life.

And because of this strength and God's faithfulness to me, my life, day after day, will declare His glory, declare that He is in control and that He is good, no matter what my circumstances.