Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Love Without Reserve...


I’ve been home for over a week now, but somehow I can’t get this trip out of my mind and heart…  Even more, I can’t get the people out of my mind and heart…  I miss them…  I’ve thought of a thousand questions I wished I’d asked them…  Questions about their life…  Their struggles…  Their joys…  And I’m utterly frustrated because I have no immediate way to communicate with them. 

But there’s something I struggle with...

I love these people…  It’s not logical…  I’ve known them for 6 ½ days of my life…  It’s not really rational…  But I do…  I want to be back with them…  I want to work in their garden with them (and I hate gardening!)…  I just want to sit and really talk to them…  And of course, worship with them! And the cool thing is that it’s a love with no real expectations…  They can’t give me anything…  Or really do anything for me…   

But I admit, I want them to feel the same way about me, and I don't always trust that they do… I want them to love me and accept me… Not for what I bring…  Or who I might know in the US…  Or for what I might help them build…  Because the reality is, I don’t really have any influence to get people to give money…  I’m not well connected… I don’t have a storehouse of money myself… I’m just an ordinary suburban mom who has fallen in love with a small country on the opposite side of the world.   No explainable reason…  it’s just what’s so!

But then it hit me... Isn’t that the kind of love God wants from us?  A love without strings…  A love that has no ‘in order to’ attached to…  ‘In order to’ get blessings…  ‘In order to’ have an illness healed…  ‘In order to’ be successful…  or have great children… or whatever…

Last year, on the last day we were in the community, I had a really hard time because the Pastor pulled out the blueprints for the church/meeting center he longs to build…  The man is truly a visionary…  But unlike most Americans, who can run to the bank for a loan, he has no resources.  So who can really blame him for making the most of an opportunity, isn’t that what a true visionary in the US would do?

And yet, I struggled with that for months, I even considered not going back to the same community…  Because I didn’t want him to play a game with me, telling me what he thought I wanted to hear, only to get what he wanted…  Thankfully, in the end, a greater love and grace than anything I’m capable of, overrode my need to protect myself…  And God taught me something in the process...

I'm really no different in my relationship with God…  I often tell Him what I think He wants to hear... Worry that if I don't have the 'right quiet' time, I might not get His blessings... or I might make Him unhappy, which would cause Him to withhold His blessings...  I wrestle with, "Am I doing enough...  Praying enough...  Reading my Bible enough..."  And yet, that is not who God is...  And that is certainly NOT the gospel... the good news...  Jesus gave His life for...
  
God just wants our love, whether He chooses to give….or to take away…  He just wants us to want Him…  Not His stuff…  Not His miracles… Not His ability to right every wrong…

And yet, the really cool thing is that He loves unconditionally…  He loves us faithfully…  He still shows up… Even when we love Him for the wrong reasons…   

As I understand more and more how risky (and even a little scary) it is to love with no reserve….to love unconditionally… my gratitude for God’s love just goes deeper and deeper…

3 comments:

Michelle Johnson said...

Amen, Sharla! And the thing is, I know those people love you for the fact that you are a child of God. If they didn't, why would the gogo's have made that huge meal for you guys? It wasn't so that you might pay them for it. I mean, you guys didn't get the chance to eat it, yet they welcomed you back the next day without a grudge. Their love was not tied to a specific outcome. Just like God's love for us and the kind of love we should give to God.

In their desperation they ask for things (just like we do with God), but their love are not strings attached to that. Thank you for your heart!

Patientlywaiting said...

I too have fallen in love with Africa. I wrestled with God about going. I didn't want to go. I didn't want to see how things were there. I'd heard the stories but seeing it with your own eyes makes it very real. I was comfortable at my home with my family, etc. God just would not leave me alone but I was letting my fear tell Him no. Finally, I submitted and I am so glad that I did. I can't wait to go back and am trying to figure out when I will be able to go back.

Hugs,

Robin

Naomi said...

Wow Sharla. That is so true.

Thank you!