Ephesians 3:16-19 says, "I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through the Holy Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
One of my daughters recently came to me with a heavy heart telling me about a friend of hers that was having a very tough time in her marriage. Another daughter told me of a friend whose child had been hurt. Family heart ache, loss and struggles are all around us and sometimes it can get overwhelming-as in the case of my daughter who feels so deeply for others. She asked me how to go about her 'normal' life with the knowledge of her friends struggles. That is a question that we all must face, especially when we are in the business of ministering to others. Over the years I have taken that question to God many times. Here is what I think He has told me..."LET GO".
When someone comes to us with their pain and suffering we are called to listen and to be there for them, and to pray for them. All good things. But the struggle comes when we try to hold onto their pain as if our holding it close to us is somehow releaving them of their pain. I think, when we allow other people challenges to paralize us it can make us ineffective in God's kingdom. What if, instead, we were to pray the prayer in Ephesians, trust God to take care of them and then release ourselves from playing God and trying to 'fix' everything? I'm not saying that we shouldn't be there for them and do everything within our power to help-we absolutely should. What I am saying is that I cannot strenthen them, I cannot give them power or fill them with the Holy Spirit-only God can. What I can do is pray and encourage and love them, then let go. God is so good at being God and I make a pretty lousy one.
I pray the prayer of Ephesians for you this Holiday season-That you will know the love that surpasses all understanding.
Merry Christmas Friend!
It started with a simple question from my 16 year old daugther, "Mom, will you promise me that before I turn 30 you will go on an 'Eat, Pray, Love" adventure with me?" (Taken from the movie "Eat, Pray, Love".) "Sure" came my immediate and honored reply, followed quickly with "But I don't like pasta", as if that had anything to do with it at all. She smiled, mentioned that I didn't have to JUST eat pasta and went on her way.
For days I have not stopped thinking about her question. Not the eating part, or even the praying part. It is the 'Loving' part that has me so deep in thought.
You see, lately I have been struggling with knowing what love is. I LOVE my family, I LOVE God, I LOVE friends, and yoga, and my puppy...I LOVE so many things. But my heart is such a mess when it comes to my husband. I can be so incredibly mean sometimes. It's like the old "Wack-a-mole" game. We will be having a nice time when all of a sudden, out of my mouth comes this mean comment. I wont see it comming and before I can stop it from popping up-there it is! So my struggle is this: What is love when you don't feel loving? Can love go away? How do you know if I love someone when I am feeling so mean towards them?
My daughters question has sent me on my own "Eat, Pray, Love" journey. Only the 'eat' is reading, studying, and ingesting Scripture. The 'pray' is "Lord, show me how to do this and what it means". And the 'love' is taking the prayers, and the Scripture and applying it to my life.
What I have learned so far is that 'Love' is not passive. It is active and to be "pursued". (1 Corinthians 14:1) Love is to be "put on" every single day just as 'compassion, kindness, gentleness and patience' are to be put on, as well as "accepting and forgiving one another" (Colossians 3:12-14) I have learned that love is not a feeling, it is a state of being "Love IS patient, love IS kind..." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Most of all, I have learned that I am called, and therefore totally equipped to "Let the peace of God...control my heart." All this to say that I choose when I love, I choose when I am loving. The 'wack-a-mole' comments that come out of my mouth come out because I am not 'putting on love'. I am not 'choosing' the greatest gift, the gift that is the "perfect bond of unity".
As I travel this new 'journey' I pray for peace. The peace of God that comes when I 'put on love' even if I don't feel like it. I pray for the peace of God to rule my heart, my mind and my mouth, and that someday, way before my daughter turns 30, that I will have learned to love the way that I am called to love-without hesitation, with joy and with all of my heart!