Sunday, September 18, 2011

LOVE STORY, PART FOUR

"Love never gives up. LOVE CARES FOR OTHERS MORE THAN FOR SELF. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, doesn't have a swelled head, doesn't force itself on others, isn't always 'me first', doesn't fly off the handle, doesn't keep score of the sins of others, doesn't revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end."
~1 Corinthians 13:4-7

If we were in an ampitheatre with ten thousand people, and the featured speaker said, "Everyone who cares for others more than for themselves, please raise your hand," I wonder how many hands would go up. If I were seated in the crowd, my hands would remain in my lap. I don't think I know a lick about caring for others MORE than caring for myself.

Okay, I am a wife and mom, so I do know a little bit about this subject. It comes with the territory. But can I honestly say that I live my life putting the cares of others before my own? No way.

But here's the thing ~ I want to! Let's face it...living life to satisfy myself is the reward in itself. It stops there. Is that how I want to invest my time, my energy, my resources...for some fleeting experiences that are based on me and what I want? Yet isn't that what I am doing when I care for myself and my own agenda above other people?

I am so convicted, but in a good way! I am being stretched, and I want to learn and grow here. So I look to my Teacher. What does it mean to put others before myself? The first thing I see is that I cannot achieve this apart from God. There it is again ~ AGAPE. Agape love knows how to put others first. In fact, agape love doesn't know any different! Remember? Agape love takes self out of the equation and replaces it with God.

It must begin with a closer walk with God. The closer I am in step with Him, the more I see His perspective, and the more my skewed perceptions fade. I believe this is my starting place. Eyes off of me and my wants, and placed onto Him and His priorities.

But what about what I need? What I want? I have to release my tight grip on these and entrust them to God, who is far more able to care for them than I can. As I release them to Him, I am freed up to grab hold of Him and this radical love called AGAPE. What sounds at first like a painful exchange now looks very freeing ~ and exciting.

I know that I've only begun to step foot onto this path called AGAPE. But already, I feel less burdened. There's a new spring in my step. In fact, I feel like skipping! Sounds childish, I know ~ but my memory recalls what Jesus said about approaching Him like a child. You couldn't pay me to turn back now.

"We can do no great things, only small things with great love."
~Mother Teresa       

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