Think about this for a minute, do you love? Do you find your heart leap with joy at the smile, or thought of another person? If so, how many people?
In John 13:34-35, Jesus talks to his disciples about his coming demise, but he ends with this, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
So if we wish to be counted as one of the Jesus’ disciples, we must love one another, even those who do not love us.
There was a time in my life when I felt unworthy of love. I felt left out, discouraged, defeated. I felt that nobody could love me, and in return I didn’t love anybody back. In fact, I could not even use the word love with my parents. When I finally met someone, it wasn’t love I felt, but relief at somebody who I thought saw me as I was. But that also ended poorly. I found out she really didn’t love me, but loved my paycheck, and the lifestyle it could bring.
It took God working in my heart, and a long period of time for me to realize that love is not something to husband and restrict, but it is the universal solvent that makes human interaction tolerable. I can now say that I love my family, I love my friends, and I love the children I minister to on the weekends. I love the people who go to church with me. I get overwhelmed when I look at among 2,000 people, with arms raised, praising God, and I cannot fathom giving that feeling up.
Love isn’t a chemical reaction, but an unconditional acceptance and longing for people, and God himself. It is a beautiful emotion that will carry you through the toughest times in your lives.
Shame is tough. In my first attempt at college, I had a hard time asking for help. That led to me getting behind, and finally in my third semester, I knew I wasn’t going to make it. I was so ashamed and proud that I could not ask for help, I could not talk to an instructor and seek the understanding I needed in order to pass the classes. The inevitable happened and I was kindly asked to vacate the school. At that point, I had to tell my employer, and to tell my parents, both of which were very disappointed in me.
The shame was so thick, I felt like I had to part it like curtains just to walk through life. I got through, but I didn’t have to struggle as hard as I did. Later in life, I struggled through rejection, a poor marriage, a pregnancy she chose to abort, the death of my father, divorce and finally, getting tied into a no-win job at IBM. Shame, rejection, depression and fear ruled my life.
Then I hit bottom after losing a house, and a career, and I had to turn somewhere. I found that if I asked God for help, he was there. I would spend my time in the car saying over and over, “God is my provider, I will not worry.” He brought us through.
But back to shame, In Romans 10, Paul quotes Isaiah in verse 11, saying, “As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.’” The Him is Jesus Christ, the savior, the intercessor, our priest, our friend. There is nothing that Christ cannot forgive. There is nothing he will not do to bring you closer to him. We just have to get out of our own way.
It is my testimony that life is better, easier, more joyful, more peaceful with Christ in it. It is my experience that life is hard, but Christ is simple, and shame free.
Do you feel like nobody sees the real you? Do you feel like people are going on with their lives and you get left behind? The feeling of being an extra wheel even when sitting on a park bench is overwhelming in it’s rejection.
Life can be brutal, and at times when we need personal interaction and friendship, it is the hardest thing to come by. Yes, you have friends, but you don’t open up and be honest with them about the pain you feel inside. You feel as if the pain will make them dislike you, or even worse to mock your situation.
This happened to me in my young adulthood and it led to a marriage of convenience. It was a marriage where she didn’t love me, but I was convenient for her, and for a few years, I felt like I was worthy of being loved. But when that came to an end, the pain and rejection were ten times worse. By that time I was able to see that I needed help and I sought it out. That helped, but it wasn’t until I finally buckled under the pressure of life and gave my heart to Christ that the burden was lifted.
Yes, there is a solution, but it’s not easy. It’s not “cool” to humble yourself and let God into your life. It’s not what everyone else is doing, unless you are in a church crowd. But you would be surprised how many people are “playing” church, rather than giving their all to it.
So, I’m not going to recommend praying a prayer and leaving it at that. No, find someone. Someone you can trust in a mentor capacity. Talk with them about what you are going through and have them help you with your conversation with God. If you don’t know anybody, let me know. I’ll help you, or will point you to somebody else who will.
Today, I know I’m not alone. I know that I walk hand in hand with my Father in Heaven, and seek to please him and glorify him. I do this not because he demands it, but because that’s what a child does with his father.
I don’t want you to hurt any more. I don’t want you to be alone any more. Let me help you.
What do I mean by “Go with me?”
I would like you to join me on a journey. It’s a journey that takes a lifetime and leads to eternity. If you are all in with those two sentences, you are done, you can quit reading. I look forward to the journey with you.
If you are uncomfortable or upset with those two sentences, it’s probably because of the last phrase, “leads to eternity.” You see in today’s culture, eternity is not widely discussed. There are many thoughts on this, such as, “There is no heaven and hell, our mind and soul just end when we die.” Or, “All you have to do is be a good person to get into heaven.” How about this classic, “I don’t need anybody talking to me about eternity. It’s a private decision and I’ve got it covered.” The sad truth is that if you agree with any of those statements, you probably need to go with me on the journey. I can’t say with any sort of certainty that you are destined to roast or not, but you are on shaky enough ground that I would be careful.
I want to spend a few weeks just getting into some basics, and later this year go right at atheism. I spent 28 years as an atheist, and it took many years, a few experiences, and a frank conversation with myself (nobody else was in the car) while driving from Phoenix to San Diego.
I also want to touch on the millennial generation, those born after 1983. If you are of that age, I get the sense you are going to be incredibly important to the Kingdom of God. I know some of you are already making a difference, and I am amazed by you. Others have yet to step into their destiny, to know God, to follow God, and to become fishers of men in your own right.
We have to be willing to talk about eternity, and to be secure with our future address. If you are secure, come on and enjoy the ride. If you aren’t secure, come on anyway, keep us honest.