Love, First

The middle of a December night. One I was sure I would be able to sleep through. But true to form of this post-menopausal woman, I am wide awake and ready to go. God says, “write.” So here’s what I offer.

I am ready and finally willing to see a few things about myself that need to be changed, again. The reality about spiritual growth is that, well, it always must keep growing. The hard thing to grasp is that this growing is most evident when we are made low. Humbled, with heart bowed is the position for breakthroughs. To be hungry, thirsty for spiritual things. (Matthew 5:3 and 6)  I had to look first at some “other” things, completely out of my control, and whine and complain and cause more than a little commotion in my circle, of which I do regret. Now I realize that the looking was focused in the wrong direction. Always in the wrong direction.

 The amazing thing about Christianity is that when a heart is open to Christ, looking toward Him, He comes down. He always comes down because we can’t go up. We can’t climb up to where He is because we are incapable of this ascent. We will never be able to elevate ourselves to His level. He is perfect. We are not. He is God, we are not. Therefore, every time I try to take things in my own hands and feel it is my responsibility to change other people or situations so they fit better into my circle, I am wrong. It is only when I remind myself of the person who needs the changing, me, that I can move forward. The peace that comes with that understanding brings “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” (1 Peter 1:8)

 Advent is about God coming down. He sent His Son to our world to show us He loved us enough to be one of us. And not only this, but the plan included redeeming us. It included taking our place on the cross, that bitter punishment we deserve, to make a way for our relationship with our Creator to be restored. He has done all the work to give us everlasting life; our part has always been to receive it. This Gift that we celebrate at Christmas.

 Accepting Him means accepting others, because we must love people just as they are. Because we were loved first, just as we were. (1 John 4:19) This is one of the tests of our love for God. “If someone says “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God, whom he has not seen?” (1 John 4:20) The loving part has to come first, always first. When I back off my expectations for someone else’s behavior and choose to love them regardless, the changing happens. The first change is always in me. Me realizing that I cannot control how they react. They may accept, in God’s timing, my offer of help, or they may not, but that shouldn’t cause me to love them any less.

 God saw us as we were and sent us the Gift that would fix what was wrong with us. His love, wrapped in flesh. The long anticipated Savior that satisfies all our longings for love and acceptance. “The hopes and fears of all the years.” O come, O come, Emmanuel.




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