Do you ever get the feeling that the Lord is trying to reach you, but you’re not really hearing Him? Recently, I thought I could hear God calling out to me, but I wasn’t grasping His message. Many of the daily Bible verses I recently received from www.biblegateway.com were taking on special meaning, but I didn’t understand why. Normally, after reading and reflecting on them, I delete them from my Inbox. But, somehow I knew that there was something in these verses that I was not quite hearing clearly, so I left them in my Inbox and went back and re-read them, over and over again.
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28
I love the one-ness of believers, sharing in His love equally, and I think I attempt to pass along that love to all. So, wasn’t this verse just “preaching to the choir?”
But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1Peter 1:15-16
Yes, I want to continue to strive to follow His Word and further His kingdom. But, I still heard a small voice that told me I needed to listen more carefully.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21
I thought I heard You, Lord: I try to live a righteous life, pleasing in Your sight. Was some part of my heart lacking? If there was, I didn’t see it. So, He kept sending His messages.
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2
Our church’s motto of Love1st resonates deeply with me; it really is the essence of Christianity, isn’t it? Yes, I always try to reach out to others in love…at least, I think I do.
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. John 4:20-21
Okay, Lord, I finally heard You!!! I have NOT been so holy, showing love to ALL, living a righteous life, walking in the way of love. I’ve been able to share love with friends and church family, most of my family, even strangers, but not my youngest sibling. For some time now, I’ve been estranged from my youngest sister and wrestled with actions I should take regarding an invitation to her wedding Back East this summer.
You see, I have a sister, given the name of Ann at birth, with whom I have a very strained relationship. She is much younger than I; in fact, I moved out of the family home when she was only three. When she was a young adult, she came up with these “repressed memories” that were so absurd, they were impossible to believe. Ann legally changed her full name shortly thereafter, because she wanted to rid herself of the stink of our family. At least, that’s how it always read to me. Ann lived her life as the poor, picked-on child, who needed emotional and sometimes financial support from her friends and financial support from the government for her whole life due to all of the “trauma” in her life (all seemingly self-induced and imaginary). She surrounded herself with people who bought into her fantastical stories, and when those people tired of supporting her, she moved to a new community. Many years later, she offered that perhaps these repressed memories didn’t really happen, but she still had the same mindset of needing constant sympathy from others, deserving to be supported. And, she had already caused much pain and grief for our family. Meanwhile, our mother passed away. But, it was when she sent our father a “hate letter” while he was on his deathbed that I gave up on her. Wasn’t I justified to develop a hatred for Ann?
So, then the Lord hit me over the head with:
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar.
I DO love God, and I definitely don’t want to be a liar! I noticed that He didn’t say that I can pick and choose which of my brothers and sisters I can love. I’d say that means I need to find a way to love Ann again.
Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. Isaiah 1:16-17
First up for me seemed to be confessing my sin and asking for forgiveness. Then I needed to actively stop my negative feelings toward Ann and reach out to her in love. I was drawn to the Parable of the Lost Son in Luke 15:11-32. My own parents reminded me of the lost son’s father. My parents’ hearts were crushed by Ann’s hurtful words, but they never stopped loving her and extending an open invitation for her to “come home.” Even after my father received his “hate letter” from Ann, he cried and shook his head in disbelief, but he still loved her and wished her only the best.
Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
Gee, Lord, that made it pretty plain what I needed to do! Perhaps I’ve found a way to begin this process of reaching out to her in love: I’ve begun piecing a quilt for my sister’s wedding gift. Every piece of fabric that’s cut and then sewn together has its seam stitched with love. In every quilt I make, I continually think and pray about the recipient and sew love into the product. Slowly, it’s been healing my own heart, and I pray that it might heal Ann’s as well.
One of my heroes, Martin Luther King, Jr. said,
Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long…by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. (from “Loving Your Enemies”)
I’m sad that both of my parents died before Ann could reconcile with them. But, it’s not too late for me to open my heart and redeem it so that I can fully love Ann again. God had to hit me over the head with His Word before I heard it. Now that I finally hear Him, I know what I need to do. I’m not sure I’m ready to attend her wedding, but hopefully this quilt of love will embrace both Ann and me and begin to heal our relationship.
Thank You, Lord, for continuing to guide me with Your loving Word!
Your friend in Christ,