March 17, 2009
Well, I came up pretty short again yesterday.
I had something all worked out in my head, set my heart on it, and made plans to pull it off.
And it didn't work...slowly and successively in fact, it went up in smoke... and I got frustrated, even angry and fussed and fumed for a very long time....all the while, telling myself I will not fuss and fume.
I went to bed and tossed and turned, and I finally said, "I am not getting up so early for the meeting in the morning." So the alarm was not set for me.
But right when the alarm should ring, shortly after 5am. I was awake...hmm. (Not a usual behavior.)
So this morning after my 6am board meeting, I came to the office very early and began to read scripture - beginning in Joshua - great stuff there about being strong and going with the Lord's presence. But as I read and prayed I felt that there was more that I should focus on - like on where I was just hours ago, and the famous passage on "love" in I Corinthians 13.
For maximum benefit today, get a Bible, and read that chapter over a few times.
I read it once and colored in some important words...like every verb addressed to the reader.
I read it again and began to scratch down some ideas....what follows here.
And something fresh and important to me began to emerge....hope it helps you too.
This...(+ves) Not this...(-ves)
4.Protective 4. Rude
5.Trusting 5.Keeping track of wrongs/keeping score
6.Hopeful 6.Delighting in evil
7.Persevering 7.Failing - quitting
And from that process, as I pondered Insights/ideas began to emerge...
1. Each column has an equal number of listings. Hmmm...real love has to do with positives accentuated in our lives, and negatives avoided. Not just one-sided. Am I getting stronger on one side and weaker on the other? Might signal the presence of God-real love.
2. The -ve column is helpful to tag me with a more accurate behavioral read. If I imagine I am loving, but then exhibit pride, keep score so I can devalue, and fail to actually express love. I haven't got it.
3. I look at the positives and reflect that #2-5 are all headed in one direction: to encourage, uplift, express grace and all are "other" focused. Real love in me lets me live out this truth: It's not about me, it is about them....if I really have love. It's the kind deeds, the patience, the manner with which I celebrate the other's success and good times. It is about the way I watch out for and protect my brothers, and the way I believe in them and help them to keep coming on with greater strength that measures my love.
4. On the other side, notice (2-5) how negatively focused not having love can make us....arrogant, big-talking, unmanerly, ME-centered. This is not love. I don't like being around people like that...including me, when I give place to that junk.
5. Love, when it is within us and growing, settles us down. We become more at home with ourselves....There is no need to envy, boast, act pridefully and keep track of others behaviors (only to pull them out at the right time to really get a dig in). Yuk. Been there. Done that.
6. Sometimes I have tended to set spiritual gifts up very high...like prophecy, tongues, special gifts of knowlege....but Paul does the opposite. He sets love up very high...and lets the special gifts of God find their appropriate places in that protective shelter....unless we want to become empty people with a gonging impact (see :1).
7. Finally, I note that three times in these verses we are encouraged towards perserverance and process...."patient, perserveres, never fails."
So, last night I was real low on love....the real stuff. Real big on myself. And finding again some grace and truth to keep pushing on....the word and presence of the Spirit of God is always like that.
Oh God, in Jesus' strong name, we ask you to help us to continally grow in love.