Love As He Loved Us
This blog post was written by Theresa Adams, a Redeemer member, wife and mom, who would love to have her own roller skating rink & thinks getting her kids to eat kale is a major victory!
Loving others. Serving others. Meeting needs. All of those things can seem so daunting. So overwhelming. It can be paralyzing to know even where to begin. Sometimes people do get immobilized and don't even start. They think the circumstances have to be just so. They think when their kids get older when they have more spare time when they don't have such a heavy class load when they find a cause that breaks their heart then they will begin. I get it. I was that person. I wanted to "do something." I wanted to be a drop in the bucket that would turn into an ocean of loving, compassionate acts. But I didn't even know where to begin. I didn't know what broke my heart. What would make me weep? Sometimes I didn't even want to know that a need was out there.
When you are living in oblivion/innocence/ignorance, it is so effortless to look the other way. Once you are made aware, it makes it near impossible to go on living without doing something. There is no going back to blissful naivety once you've become acquainted with a need. It's like Nehemiah. He was a Jew, born in Persia during the exile, so he didn't know Jerusalem other than he had relatives there. When he inquired as to the conditions among the Jews there who had survived exile in Jerusalem he went from being unaware of having his heart wrecked. "They told me, "The exile survivors who are left there in the province are in bad shape. Conditions are appalling. The wall of Jerusalem is still in rubble; the city gates are still cinders." When I heard this, I sat down and wept. I mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God-of-Heaven." (NE 1:3,4) The need was not directly affecting Nehemiah, yet he wept. For days. He sought God and then he set out to meet the need.
Perhaps you think: God wouldn't use me. Why in the world when He has his pick of all the great, kind, loving people on the planet would He ever want to use the likes of me to accomplish something for His Glory? Why would He entrust me to love others? To serve others? With my past? With my weaknesses? With my judgmental tendencies? With my greed? With my selfishness? With my potty mouth? With my grades? Whatever the reason you think you aren't "good" enough to accomplish something for His purpose have you ever thought that when we say we are incapable of being used by Him that we are saying He's made some mistake?
God made each one of us perfectly and intentionally. He doesn't make mistakes. It's not as though He had some terrible no-good-very-bad-day when He was creating you. He knows you from the hairs on your head to the tips of your toes. He knows your thoughts, your words, your heartbeat and the rhythm of your soul. It's because of the exquisite detail that makes you -you- that no one else can accomplish what you can. No one else can meet a need in the specifically same way as you. No one else can love as you love. Your gifts, skills & compassion differ from mine. What breaks my heart may not break yours.
If you find yourself longing to "do something" to serve your neighborhood, your city, your county, your campus, but you don't know what said something is can I encourage you to pray about it? To ask God what breaks your heart? He will be faithful and reveal something to you. He did to me. Years ago it was human trafficking that first gave an awareness to the myriad of needs of our world, country, state, county. And I began small. Sending letters & cards to a shelter in Greece that housed women freed from trafficking. Then it was building an awareness of what went on in our county and connecting with local resources.
Since that time there have been many different opportunities I've been able to take part in: from giving my credit at a consignment store to a homeless woman so she could buy clothes with dignity, to having garage sales for at-risk-teens, to providing Christmas presents to kids whose parents were unable to provide one of their own.. I don't share this with you as a "look-at-me-I've-got-it-all-figured-out" kind of pat on the back, because truly, I am pretty sure I mess up & miss opportunities on a regular basis.
What I hope to do by sharing with you is to encourage you. I too once wanted to love others. I wanted to "do something," I wanted to help to serve to make a difference. Sometimes I wonder if that is what Jesus meant when he told his followers: "Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." (John 13:34,35) He didn't say people would know we were set apart because of the fish logo on the back of our cars. Nor by the verses & well-meaning quotes we share on Facebook. Not even by the in-depth knowledge of doctrine we may have. None of which are insignificant. But by our love. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think it's by the feeling of love, but rather the action. An outpouring of activity regardless of the outcome. Regardless of what we gain in return. Love as He loved us.
If your heart is to love others (Or you want to have that heart) and you'd like to serve alongside those in our county who are already meeting a need here are some possibilities. The list is by no means exhaustive, but it's a start. And isn't that what we need sometimes? Just a start?