Love never fails…

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In a world where we are filled with stories of utter chaos, lives trampled, promises broken, hearts wounded and lives traumatized permanently, it seems a bitterly insensitive cliche to even utter those words, “love never fails”.

Yet, if we cannot say them in the depths of our sadness, or remember them amongst the turbulence we have suffered, what good are they? If they offer no comfort or light in the overwhelming darkness of our greatest fears realized, did we ever really believe them in the first place? John 13:35 says: “By this shall all men know you are my disciples, if you have love, one for another”. There’s a great song for this verse I learned way back when and,if you’re not already singing it, I encourage you to find the song online and see how fast it gets stuck in your head!

How shallow does love sit within us? Is it merely a surface word to be tossed about lightly and solely for approval from the majority, to whom we have no personal connection? Or is it alive and nestled deep within our soul, secure in the depths of our being, reinforced by the constant feeding and nourishing of people we choose to both give love to and receive love from?

Can love heal all wounds? Is there a mental list of unforgivable acts others could enact which we would then consider ourselves justifiable in withholding love from an individual or group of people? In the midst of our messiness, can we seek to abide by a higher standard and live to forgive?

Where does betrayal fall in all of this? Is it the messiest of all? Perhaps it is the easiest sin against us in which to judge and pronounce punishment in the form of holding back what should be given freely to all, regardless of their actions? Is it one place behind the line, does it cross the line of mercy and patience?

Love is patient, love is kind. Oftentimes, people are not. Passions run high and love seeps out. Records of wrong are kept and seethed over time and time again. Disappointment rules the day and apathy begins to overtake the soft, soothing waves of love. All is not lost.

We can hold ourselves to a higher standard. We were given a command to love! Love can be bold! Agape love is unconditional! Brotherly love can be lost, romantic love can be fleeting but His love? It is all consuming and all encompassing. We were not advised it would be simple for us to love, or told it would come easy. We were not suggested to love out of obligation or just when it feels right. Usually a command isn’t needed for that which comes naturally.

The Ancient of Days knew we would find challenge in love, both for ourselves and for others. The Creator knew in our broken humanity, we would find it much less painful to hate than forgive. He knew covering a wound with apathy would feel better to us than allowing an exposed wound to heal over time. There is a whole chapter in His word we refer to as “the love chapter” to remind us of the qualities of love because we will in our flesh, forget these things yet choose to remember the hurt!

When I was a child, another one of my absolute favorite songs at church both for the words and the rhythmic beat, (it was the only song I learned in church that used a tambourine and drums!) was, and please feel free to sing along, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love”. It really says it all so much better than I have done here. These are the lyrics as I learned them:

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored

And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we’ll guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride

And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love.

We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand
And together we’ll spread the news that God is in our land

And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

All praise to the Father, from whom all good things come,

And all praise to Christ Jesus, His only Son.

And all praise to the Spirit, Who makes us one.

And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love

Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

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Pervasive, passionate peace.

13-14Apr2012NatBridgesBeachMarineCenter 020Why is peace so often equated with weakness?  Peace is passionate, powerful and potent!  It can be like the waterfall, it’s effect felt much farther afield than just the downward flow of the water hitting and changing the very form of solid rock, the spray nurtures as far as the wind created by such an undeniably pervasive force can carry it! Underestimated by many, it spreads quietly and slowly, rippling through people like cool water over pebbles in a river.  Anger is weakness and begets violence which too often becomes a raging fire and being aggressive in nature, so announces itself through destruction and leaves a visible smoking trail of disarrayed people wherever it’s been. Peace is tolerable, it can be everywhere and leaves a tangible trail of new growth deep in the heart like a fresh rainfall, pooling and soothing the aching soul with it’s promise of reconciliation. Anger tells memorable tales through words and actions which hurt and scar far deeper than any knife can cut, more permanent too. Peace flows to every open scarred cavity, filling voids and creating hope where anger and violence have left a hopeless path of ruin. Anger empties people of love and community. Peace breeds serenity and cohesiveness, filling people up with new found freedom. Anger says you are trapped and there is no escape. Peace welcomes the chance to rebuild and reconnect. Anger builds upon itself and peace can as well. Their commonalities are in numbers. Anger can swell and change direction and force like the wind shifting a hotspot and multiplying the damage done to acre upon acre. So can peace swell, as people generate comfort and solidarity with each other to quench the savage beast of anger, affecting more and more lives the more people embrace it’s saturating properties. Anger leaves people lonely and spent, even in a crowd. Peace encourages a constant renewal through the gathering of like minded hearts, never losing momentum when kept in focus.

So, when do we learn to squelch the angry fire within before it destroys more than just our lives? When do we learn the far greater extending power of reaching out in peace to extinguish the fires of anger? Do you believe anger is a secondary emotion? Do you believe people are sad first and when unresolved or unsatisfied, that sadness grows to a perceived justifiable anger and sometimes beyond? What if that sadness is offered comfort and peace and resolution at it’s genesis, before it escalates to a force of violence? Will you be a force to be reckoned with today? Which force? A forest fire of fear and damage? Or a wave of unconquered strength, seeking out a path of pervasive peace?

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27