John’s post yesterday just about wiped me out. I’ve never seen so clearly before the consequences of closing my heart. I’ve also never really considered the cost of keeping my heart open in quite that way. If I close my heart to save myself, then keeping it open means I can – and will! – be attacked. It’s a costly thing to love people.
Let all that you do be done with love.
1 Corinthians 16:14 NKJV
That’s a really tall order! And well beyond the capabilities of any mere human being. Everything that I do? That’s one big, wide-open heart!
It’s a Costly Thing to Love as God Loves
Because I work at Shulamite Ministries, I am very conscious of surrendering my responsibilities to the Lord to do. I simply can’t do the things that He’s called me to do with the Love that He wants poured into it. And while I value the fruit of this daily surrender enormously – every post I write, every podcast I contribute to, every product description I create, every order I assemble, every phone call I take, every piece of writing I edit, etc. – it still doesn’t affect me as powerfully as the fruit unlooked for out in “the wild” of my life.
When I’m out and about, I often go on auto-pilot. I move through stores and run my errands but I’m not necessarily in it. Often I’m thinking of other things, only half aware of what’s happening in the near vicinity. And more than a few times, I’ve been thrown into great spasms of panic that I wasn’t available to Him in these places. I think, what a poor vessel for the Life and Love of Jesus I must be! Yet more and more, He confirms His presence in me, regardless of my level of awareness.
A week or so ago, it was 95° in the shade, I’d been to three different stores and a gas station and had a 35-minute drive ahead of me. I was hot and sticky and tired. I went through the drive-thru at McDonald’s and ordered a large Sprite. I have no recollection of what I said or how I said it when I placed my order. But when I pulled up, the girl at the window said, “I just want to thank you for being so nice to me. Everyone’s been so mean today it seems like, and you’re just really nice! I don’t know how you do it! Thank you!”
I was flabbergasted. I stuttered and I think I said “You’re welcome” or something and I took my Sprite and started home. I cried for 15 minutes over that. I just couldn’t take in how utterly beautiful Jesus was even when I wasn’t paying attention. He wanted to give that girl lovingkindness and I was, somehow, no impediment to that. He is always so much bigger and gentler and more loving and merciful than I can take in! And these seemingly small moments are such a huge gift to me, a confirmation of His indwelling Life.
It’s a Costly Thing to Love with Your Whole Heart
If there’s one steady work that the Spirit’s done from the moment I was born again, it’s opening up my heart. He is constantly stretching my limits and breaking down walls and putting me in situations that I would as soon avoid like the plague. My heart is regularly being broken open wider and wider. It’s painful and scary and uncomfortable, but it does have its rewards. I don’t think I ever experienced joy as deeply as I do now. So if the lows are more painful, then the highs are also that much more ecstatic.
It’s a costly thing to love as God loves. A wide-open heart is vulnerable to every harsh word and vile accusation, every snide comment and mocking laugh, every hurled curse and pointed rejection. An open heart bruises and bleeds more often than not. And there’s really only one reason to keep surrendering to the Spirit’s heart-exposing work: the love of Jesus Christ.
He’s worth it. He’s worth all of it. I may cry and scream and vent my anger and hurt to Him, but I surrender and say yes because I love Him. I don’t want to live without Him. My life is worth nothing without Him. That’s it, that’s all, the end.
It may be the most costly thing to love as God loves, and I may bumble and fail my way into it, but I still choose it. To love is a much greater adventure than to hate, and I don’t want to miss it. Or Him!