The greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13
Like the back roads of Napa Valley, California, the road of discovery each of us seeks can be difficult. As Christians we should all want to find our true identity absent of the hang up, hurts and habits that we’ve allowed to complicate our journey and lure us away from the person God intended us to be. It’s a winding road full of twist and turns, hills and valleys, rocky slides and tough terrains. Sometimes the road is so narrow it feels that one false move will send us careening over the side, thwarting progress and forcing us to begin again. But then comes the Light—a clearing—a reassuring that everything will be okay. The scenery completely changes. Breathe. What was once dark and scary, nerve-wracking and painful, thorny and complicated is now beautiful, smooth and easy.
I’m at a beautiful intersection of my journey where grace meets love and my vision is clear. My eyes are open and I can see the wonderful valley God has designed and filled with the sweet aromas of love, friends, families and lots of goodness just for me.
As I sit on the plane ride from Oakland, California back to North Carolina contemplating over this past week of celebrating my 50th birthday with friends and family, I can’t help but feel grateful and reflect on my own recovery.
“You’ve come a long way, kid!”
You see this time a year ago I was an emotional wreck! My scenery was dark and unstable. My 26-year marriage was in shambles and on the verge of destruction, threatening to be another casualty sitting at the bottom of the ravine. I was living separated from the rest of my family, with some in California and the other half in Minnesota. I was alone in a practically emptied house. I didn’t have a job or a clue of what to do next. All I could think was, “How did I get here? God, what is going on?” All I had was my friends—my support—and they provided enough love to keep me on course.
This weekend allowed me to see the beauty and value of all the friendships in my life, and only one word comes to mind—humbling. When I think about God orchestrating individual lives by having them set their GPSs on me, I can’t help but fall to my knees in humility.
I’m not worthy.
Each of them, near and far, participated in my celebration, changed their agendas, rearranged schedules, and spent hard-earned money all so they could focus on me. Sacrifice.
It reminds me of scripture recorded in Mark chapter 14. During the Passover celebration as religious leaders plotted to arrest Jesus, He was in Bethany with His friends. Verse 3 picks up, “A woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head.” Jesus’ disciples became angry because they felt she “wasted” something expensive on one person, and while scripture doesn’t elaborate, I imagine that this woman didn’t believe it was not a waste at all.
Love is not what you say but what you do.
She must have felt that the greatest expression of love she could show was by giving away her best. She wanted to give someone she loved the best she ha—love, just as God did when He sacrificed Himself for the love of us. God showed His love by giving away His best. For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son…My friends showed me their best by giving away their love.
Love is the most expensive offering we have. It’s priceless, and requires a sacrifice. We have to give up something in order to show and receive love. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith and is always hopeful. And endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7)
The greatest sacrifice that anyone can give is love.
If we want to be blessed, we must be willing to lay aside all manner of pride, hatred, judgment, and expectations to show love just as the woman with the alabaster box, just as Jesus, just as my friends and family members did for me. As we continue down our road of discovery, I urge you to surround yourself with godly friends who understand they are instruments of God to be used by Him to show love to His people. Godly friends are not afraid to love on you; instead, they are willing to sacrifice on your behalf. You be that for someone else.
I dare you to allow God to use you to show love this week. I encourage you to challenge yourselves to sacrificially pray and/or fast for someone else. Don’t just include them in your prayer, but solely set aside some time to pray only for them. Try listening to someone with both ears next time and abandon the automatic religious responses-”To God be the Glory”. Look at someone intently and smile and try and brighten their day; encourage them and mean it. This is how we become Light in a dark world, by sacrificing for the sake of love.
I realized this past week that while I sometimes get distracted by the twist and turns of my road, God still has His eyes on me. While the enemy whispers words of doubt, God is screaming sounds of love. He has my journey planned if I just stay the course, hold on and relax during the ride. I know, it’s easier said than done, and you’re right, but it’s not impossible.
Three things will last forever-faith, hope and love-and the greatest of these is love.
Be Blessed my friends,
We honor you for the sacrificial love You show us continuously. We acknowledge the love songs the birds sing to us on the roughest of days, the waving of the trees in our loneliest moments that assure us we are not alone, and the brightness of the flowers that seem to bloom just in time to make us smile as being directly from You. You are everywhere! You are everything! You are with us if we slow down to see hear and see You. Thank You for the gift of love- the precious, priceless gift that reveals Your heart for us in so many ways. And, thank You for friendships that remind us to keep the faith and travel along. We are not worthy of any of it, but yet You continue to shower down grace and mercy. We are forever indebted to You, forever in love with You because of the love You first gave us.
In Jesus’ name,
Join us back here on Monday as Vanessa adds to our conversation on sacrifice.
Now, let’s worship