{re}fresh

Month: February, 2015

When Love Rewrites the Ending

by Dawn Aldrich

the end

You show that you are a letter from Christ…written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God…2 Corinthians 3:3 NIV

Bent over two bowls of soup, we share lunch on the hospital tray. He doesn’t say much, for what’s there to say when you traverse between the bed and a wheelchair day after day? We’d all hoped for a better outcome – one that found restoration either this side of heaven or the other. Instead, I share soup across the table from the shadow of a man I call “Dad.”

He sips and labors over every bite like he’s plowing through a banquet-sized meal and I sense his frustration – how little pleasures like eating aren’t pleasures anymore, but rather, struggles that steal his breath and I know what he’s thinking – “Why go on living?”

My spirit cries within me, “Take him home, Jesus. Take him home!” But Jesus answers, “I’m not finished writing his story just yet. Keep reading.” 

I read between the lines through the silence – flashback to a time when I would have wished him gone – not to relieve his pain, but my own – to suffer the same pain his abandonment caused me – wished he’d simply disappear. But he came back.

And now.

Now, I stand at the bathroom sink scrubbing his dirty dentures and bend over the laundry basket folding his shirts wondering from where in his story this love comes? What makes me want to do these things for him? It’s no love I conjured up on my own for this dying man; nothing I ever wrote down or plotted.

This is all part of God’s story written between us. The story where forgiveness dissolves diseases like anger and resentment and where Love rewrites the ending, not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God.

And, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom to love as He loves; to see others as He sees them; to restore all the time and circumstances once stolen. This Spirit breathes warmth and light and new life into our cold, cold hearts, our deepest, darkest thoughts and our shattered families and redeems all things through the love of Christ.

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While it was difficult watching Dad slowly whittle away, God’s love rewrote the ending of the story between my dad and I. It was the perfect ending to this final chapter of God’s story written between us; father and daughter. I will forever cherish our final moments together

Abba, Father,

Help us to always look for your story you’re writing in the midst of all the suffering. Fill us with your Spirit that helps us see others through your eyes and love as you love. Grant us the patience and understanding during these most difficult times and where forgiveness needs granting, humble us to offer it as it has been freely given to us through your Son, Jesus. Amen

Faith, Hope and Love…the Greatest of These is Love

by mymorethanme

Godsheart

I have been battling a health issue for six years. Lately, much progress has been made. I’ve finally received an accurate diagnosis and have been given a promising treatment plan. However, the battle is not over. When the Promised Land is in sight, we still need to fight.

Over the last few weeks, in response to inquiries about how I’ve been feeling, I’ve said, “My body is low but my spirit is high.” Every time I’ve said it, it’s been true. But it’s not the whole truth.

I have questioned God’s goodness, His faithfulness, His love. I didn’t know it, but that’s what I was doing when I doubted His desire to heal me.

This has been a wilderness season. God will bring good out of it, as He is good, and He works all things together for good when we’re on board with Him. However, it is not His will I remain here. Wilderness excursions prepare us for something more, something ahead. They are not an end in themselves. While the experience is not optional, the length of our stay often is. We think we’re waiting on God, when really He’s waiting on us.

A few weeks ago I’d just about lost it. Then a friend called and encouraged me greatly. She spoke truth, remaining strong when I was weak, and because of her love I was able to see and be restored to God’s love. Not yet healed, I was filled with something greater: faith in God’s faithfulness; deep knowledge of His love and goodness. Over the following weeks He has spoken loudly, clearly.  I have learned I must remain firmly rooted in the truth of who He is and what He says or the enemy will twist my mind to attribute to God what he is doing. Knowing God’s love is not just a nice thing; it is everything.

We have an enemy who is out to kill, steal and destroy. Sometimes we have to fight. We have to know our value; we have to know our worth. We’ll know who we are when we know Whose we are.

Then came another round of discouragement. I felt dry, done. That’s when my oldest son, standing tall and smiling big said, “Mom, I have something for you.” Handing me a stack of index cards, he told me to read them. I did. I read verse after verse about trusting God. He had gotten out his bible and asked Dad to help him find these verses so I could be encouraged. With bright, hope-filled eyes, he handed them to me, written by his hand, promptly followed by the tightest hug. Again, I knew God’s love. My heart melted, the knot in my belly released, and my tear-filled eyes saw clearly once more.

Over these years I have enjoyed brief windows of relief. They’ve been great. I have always had hope, albeit at varying levels. That’s amazing. But what has impacted me deepest has been God’s love. I recall praying for healing for someone a few years ago. I remember feeling so strongly the love of the Lord for this individual, knowing in that moment that it is His love that heals, that sets us free. There is no greater gift than this: Love. We all walk through our wildernesses, we all seek our Promised Lands, we all ride our roller coasters of faith, and we all must hold onto the Love that sees us through the sanctifying storms and refining fires, as well as the knock-down, drag out fights, always knowing we are walking with and into unlimited Love.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).”

God’s Love Through Us

by Rob Dunne

Guatemala Pc (2)

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:18

The humid Guatemalan air caused my t-shirt to cling to my body. Hours of mixing and hauling buckets of concrete dotted my skin with “fifty shades of grey.” None of this mattered to my little friend whose eyes opened wide as I came in to view. Instantly, her arms raised above her head, anticipating our embrace. Human interaction was a rare commodity for someone lost in a sea of orphans.

Malnutrition and lack of medical care had twisted her four-year-old legs. Constant dragging across dirt-covered floors left her bare feet filthy and scabbed. In spite of her circumstances, her smile was radiant. Spending time with her was one of the many highlights of my week at the nutrition hospital.

Time stood still as I entertained my little friend. Though my limited Spanish made verbal communication difficult, we easily understood one another. I pushed her around on a little plastic car as shouts of laughter echoed off the concrete walls of the open air porch. One of her favorite games was to hold my hands and walk her twisted legs up the length of my body to my shoulders. I would flip her over and gently place her bare feet back on the tiled ground. To my great horror, one trip led to blackened toes going into my mouth. Thank goodness for the blood of Jesus!

One of the greatest gifts of the Christian life is that we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit. That indwelling gives us a greater capacity to love others because the Holy Spirit pours the love of Father God into our hearts. As that love overflows, we cannot help but love the world around us, regardless of how filthy they may appear on the outside. Hidden deep inside is a glorious treasure waiting to burst free.

There is a lyric from a song that I find poignant. It says, “God put a million, million doors for His love to walk through, one of those doors is you.” (With Every Act of Love – Jason Gray)  People are hurting. They need a touch from their heavenly Father to remind them that they have not been orphaned. God can use us to be that loving touch. This can be literal or metaphorical. Playing with an orphaned child, a friendly word of encouragement to your cashier at the grocery store or listening to an elderly person regale you with tales from their glory days are examples of God’s love walking through the door that is your life.

As you prepare to face the day today, remember to love God and love others. I promise the blessing you receive will be greater than the one you give!

Love Creates

by Mike McKinniss

via NASA.com

On days like today, when my creative capacities sleep soundly, unwilling to be roused, I reminisce about a period not long ago, when the ideas flowed like wine, resulting in a kind of creativity inebriation. The ideas were not only endless, but so too the objects to which they were applied—writing projects, strategic plans, conversational witticisms. Like those who never lived through the 1950’s yet fantasize about them, I look back on that creative period as an idyllic time.

How did this imaginative interval come about? And could it be reclaimed?

What was it that spawned such an inventive spell? It began, as I recall, with a rendezvous with the love of my life. This was, at the time, one of those what-could-have-been relationships, and we had not spoken for some 18 months. Nevertheless, my heart was still in it, as the occasion revealed. I found, to my delight, her affections bent my direction as well.

Our meeting that day, I am embarrassed to say publicly, was exactly like your favorite romantic comedy. Birds sang. Rainbows appeared. Fireworks exploded. A year and a half of silence gives birth to any number of doubts about one’s love for another. Those doubts swiftly dissolved that day. I was a new man.

This was the fuel for the creative express that then hurtled down every track of my life: love. Carried by the rushing wave of awareness that someone loved me completely, the next several days were a geyser of ideas and energy. Suddenly there were a million things I wanted to do and I felt as though I could do them right then.

Occasionally people ask why God created the world at all. If, as his divine omniscience would suggest, he knew all the pain and suffering that could come of His endeavor, what would possibly compel him to proceed? The answer is elemental. Love compels every act of creation.

God is love (1 John 4:8, 16), after all, and so it was an inevitability that he would create–and create beings that could enjoy and spread that love. I suspect God could not help Himself. I imagine He must have simply been bursting to get to work on the ideas that would have kept coming, wave after wave.

And if our current awareness of the universe is any indication, the Lord’s creative projects have yet to cease. According to NASA, our universe is expanding at approximately 46.2 miles per second per megaparsec (a megaparsec being about 3 million lightyears). What does that mean? It means our universe is growing by inconceivable amounts every second, and it’s accelerating. All of this while suns and planets and solar systems are still in the process of developing as we speak.

God is love. And love creates.

The explosion of inspiration that erupted when love revived in my life got me thinking. Is this the way the Lord meant things to be at all times? Supposing I lost myself in His love perpetually, could I expect this kind of boundless ingenuity at all times?

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