Hi SUMites, Ann here!
I've been praying about what to write this week after our wonderful communal fast. I'm sure you're still reflecting on it as I am. Anyway, a phrase has kept coming to me for today's post, and it's this:
One of the most important things you can do, in your place of commissioning, is receive God's love.
This phrase is one that I've been carrying around for a while now. It was spoken to me by a visiting pastor who I met briefly at a university student gathering organized by some campus missionaries. At this gathering, he went person by person round the room and spoke a blessing over each of us. There were at least thirty of us, so it was a labor of love to give such personalized prayers despite not knowing any of us. It took a couple of hours and we all listened intently to each prayer. When it was my turn he paused in silence and then said:
"I seem to feel that you are surrounded by those who have very comfortable lives. In this 'comfortable' place you're going to help a lot of people - but you're going to have to be out of your comfort zone to get into their zone. It's humanitarian work."
"Too right," I thought to myself, thinking of how deeply uncomfortable I am living in a place where atheism surrounds me. But to see it as humanitarian work? That put a different lens on it. Then, the pastor finished with this:
"The main thing you must do, to make sure you don't get weary, is receive God's love. Just focus on receiving His love, and you're not going to get weary."
Ever since that day I've been chewing on what it looks like to deliberately receive His love. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this too.
One thing I started doing, after receiving that pastor's wisdom, was to look back on the year each December, re-read my journals, and jot down moments where I experienced God's love. I would reflect on what those moments told me about how God perceives me, and I would write it up into a testimony with the heading 'How God has loved me this year'. These beautiful write-ups are things I pull out and read often.
That's one way I receive God's love; but another idea might be to meditate on 1 Corinthians 13 and think about what those features mean for my relationship with Him. He is, for example, patient and kind with me, is not easily angered by me, hopes and bears all things when it comes to me, rejoices in truth around my life, and more.
It's perhaps easier to focus on what we are to do - love others, and love God (Matthew 22:37-39; James 1:27) - than it is to sit back and receive; but like any kind of love relationship the giving and receiving go hand in hand. Hebrews 4:11, for example, tells us just how important it is to enter the rest of receiving Jesus Christ, and when we make deliberate efforts to do so it will protect us from falling.
Not only that, but making room for God's love brings power to our faith walk -- Something that is desperately needed during an intense season of humanitarian work. You could say that's the season we're all in right now!
… And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, 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.
Ephesians 3:16-19, NIV
SUMites, I'd be keen to hear more from you on how we can practice receiving His love. Feel free to share ideas in the comments, along with any other thoughts you might have.
Till next time,