Before the next issue of the Standard is released, Valentine's Day will have come and gone. However, does the greater inspiration to Love have to have done the same?
Love expresses itself in many varied ways, barring overstated, amorous, physical passion or using the words of love as an effort to manipulate. So many of us struggle with the very meaning of Love and, even more, the perpetual method of its clean expression. Through us, most efforts are intended to be true but find themselves interfering with the intention Love itself has in mind.
Now, before you feel I'm waxing romantic or poetic and so a bit abstract for some, let me clarify what I mean by Love. I simply mean the entity of God and the manner in which He conveys His nature.
The Bible very directly states, “God is Love.” This is found repeatedly in 1 John 4:7-16
Being that Love is God's very nature, not just an attribute of His character, we who have accepted the call of His shepherding of our lives, must also express His nature to others, 1 John 3:16-23. In this, we experience the true desire and design of God for our lives. After all, who would not want a world where: wars cease, even within our own heart; abundance is easily shared, not just as a government function but through us as individuals; and people are moved at any personal expense, as our actual hands reach out to aid another with our time, so they may stand healthy in life.
Some of the difficulty comes when we attempt to share what we assume is love, and it runs up against a different assumption of how love is to meet the life we have concern for. In other words, they're not comfortable with how we want to care for them. This can be because of a difference in philosophy of life, a difference of preference in general or because of pride while being in the moments' circumstances. Either party can have the creeping subtly of pride.
Sometimes when we make an effort to be kind to another, a soft shift in our goals can take place, and we can harbour a desire for eventual recognition of our efforts. Well-meaning at the start, we can be led astray by the cost of our time, energy, and effort, as these are all limited commodities. As in Matt 6:21 (LSV), “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” we tend to get anxious when results are less than we hoped.
There is a popular teaching on the topic of relationships, which says, “the one who is right for you is the one who makes you feel good about yourself when you are around them.” While the converse may be true to avoid, in that you should not perpetually feel bad around a person you are connected with, this is a very shallow edict to live by. There are many reasons why a relationship is not working well, the least of which is whether the person your hold dear is actually right for you. Finances, uninformed upbringing about caring, lack of knowledge about the opposite sex's needs and temperaments, plus life histories can all interfere with the proper ebb and flow of the efforts of Love.
One important question to ask is, is a heart ready? This can require patience and time. Much like is the soil ready?
Farmers know this well, watching and waiting and nurturing forward. Under the surface, in the unseen place, soil conditions are active and changing. The right time is synchronous with temperature, rain and these changes.
Yet there is a greater way to offer a greater gift of Love. Along the line of market management, which multiplies what's been invested, like planting seed which multiplies when conditions are best, God alone knows what conditions are best for expressing His nature of Love.
Only God can truly see the unseen changes happening beneath the surface in a person's life. In 1 Cor 2:6-16 it reveals, only a person's own spirit knows what goes on inside them. This is their inner soil, and it is understood God also knows, as His Spirit searches all things. It also states, what God has in store for those who love God is beyond imagining. He has great expressions of His nature, which we may take part in to touch another's life and bring life, even in their darkest times, if we will look to Him for these 'Seeds,' so to speak.
This brings us to the need for prayer. It is not just a to-do list we bring to God or a request list we bring to the imagined Santa Clause heart of God either. It is rather a place, time and effort to wait, undisturbed by other things. A place we go to in private to ask for God to show himself and speak to the need upon our heart.
The greatest gift we can bring to God is love for Him and the desire to see another's life blessed in what weighs them down. The willingness to wait, patiently read His word, the Bible, and continue until He imparts the gift to address that other life is the sincere effort to honour His heart and defer to the understanding GOD alone is LOVE. Therefore, it is the quintessential expression of relating to God and the highest most effective expression of Love for another. When we can admit, in practice, we are not the answer to another's problems, even at our best, this is when we can become willing to be participants in that answer as vessels to carry God's best to someone else.
So in practice, we become His hands, His communicator of His words, and assist in His guidance and provision for the one we Love. This is our neighbour, our friend, a member of our own family, and certainly the love of our life. Let's give them God's best, as we learn to be ministers all, of God's own heart.
What a thing Valentine's Day reminds us of. More than romantic amour. Break with peer pressure and give to a life what our 'God of Love' ordained; you, in deed, in listening, in providing, and staying with them in it always. What a privilege, yourself governed by God's way.
Happy Valentine's Day
and Happy Seasoning.