Monday, 21 July 2014

When you’re fighting (for) each other

Song of Solomon 8:7 Many waters cannot quench love
 Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned. Song of Solomon 8:7 (NLT)

It wasn’t love at first sight.

By the time I met Xylon I had plans about who I was going to marry. He was going to be tall, dark and handsome. And Xylon is only two of those things: handsome and dark.

When I met Xylon I didn’t know if I could spend the rest of my life looking down to a man. But Xylon didn’t care. He took a risk. He fought for me. He romanced me (still does). Poured out his heart over an untouched meal and asked me to consider spending until death with him. 

And I found height doesn’t matter as much as heart. 

Then Xylon asked my father if it would be okay for him to marry me. My parents weren’t sure it was a good thing for people with different skin colours to marry

And for the first time in our relationship we had to decide if our love was worth fighting for.

We prayed and we fought. We stood up for a world in which the caramel coloured children (we may) some day have can be embraced by both sets of grandparents. 

Together we fought for love, and with love, and because of love.

Three years later we stood beneath a well-rooted tree, and repeated our vows after my father, and we thought (and prayed) that our fight for love would be over. We looked at each other with the eyes of newly-weds and believed our biggest battles were behind us. 

Eight months into matrimony and we sat before a doctor as he ran through dread diseases my husband might have. A week later the tests showed - without a doubt - he had cancer. 

We had another battle to fight, another moment to decide if our love was worth fighting for. 

We’ve spent the last two-and-a-half years between hospitals and doctors and scans. We’ve experienced the joy of completing chemo and the despair of being told the cancer is back. I’ve brushed handfuls of my husbands’ hair off our bedding, held him in the middle of the night when he’s shaking from a fever and left the room when he’s received a bone marrow biopsy.
Quotes about love
But we have never stopped fighting. 

We are still fighting.

And that’s okay because I believe that if something is worth having it is worth fighting for. 

And love is worth having. 

And love is worth fighting for.

When I feel like giving up, backing down and walking away I think of Jesus. I think of how Jesus fights endlessly and tirelessly for us. How he never stops, even when it means going to hell-and-back – he does it. 

Jesus fights for me – for life, for love – even when I don’t acknowledge him or want him too. 

Even when I fight him, Jesus fights for me. (tweet this)

And that makes me want to love like that, to fight for a love like that, to give my life for a love like that.

There is sacredness in fighting for another, battling side-by-side with someone for something that matters.

Sometimes when I’m putting pressure on my wounds, cleaning our cuts and reeling from pain, I forget that I am fighting, battling for something that matters.

I forget that we are not fighting each other but fighting together. 

I forget that love is not only hard but also holy. (tweet this)

Ponder: Do you believe that love always perseveres?

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for always loving me. 

This post originally appeared on Spiritual Glasses in May 2013. 


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Thursday, 17 July 2014

When you’re wondering what God wants from you

Loving like God
But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbour, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously – take God seriously. Micah 6:8 (MSG)

Sometimes learning to love like God makes me feel uncomfortable. (tweet this)

The other night I went for dinner with friends. We ordered pizza, and we laughed, and we spoke about the ups-and-downs of our week.

And then my one friend started speaking about meeting a homeless woman. 
My friend said all she wanted to do was run into the store and buy some coconut milk. 

As she walked out a lady in a ripped, stained dress hobbled past her on crutches.

My friend looked away and headed for her car. And then she says her heart went, “Go back and ask the lady her story.”

The homeless woman showed my friend the skin on her feet had stretched so far, and so tight, in some places it had burst. The lady dressed in rags told my friend how she had a letter from the nurses for the hospital but no way to get there. 

And my friend told how she opened the door of her car and invited Nancy to step in. Two days later, her car still smelt septic like Nancy’s feet. 

Micah 6:8 What does God require of meMy friend didn’t realise how much I thought she looked like Jesus as she spoke.

Then she turned to all of us, and said, “Wouldn’t you have done the same thing?” We all looked at each other and said, “No.”

I felt ashamed at my answer but more ashamed at the truth that lay behind it. 

I listen to my friends’ story, and my heart lurches, because I think Jesus would have acted like her. 

The next morning I sit with a journal and my bible and ask God, “Lord, what do you require of me? How do you want me to live?”

Immediately, Micah 6:8 comes to mind. I can say the verse from memory, but I grab my bible, and start writing down the phrases: 
But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: 
Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, 
be compassionate and loyal in your love, 
And don’t take yourself too seriously – take God seriously. 

Okay, I think as I read this, ‘I’ve got this. I’m fair, just, compassionate and loyal.’ 

Then I start to feel a little uncomfortable as I think about my friend reaching out to the homeless women in the parking lot. 

Surely, God doesn’t mean that homeless women is my neighbour? I already admitted at dinner last night that I couldn’t love her. 

I remember the prayer I’m fumbling through lately, “Lord, teach me how to love.” I mean it when I pray it. I really do want to live a life where I’m actually loving people, not just talking about it.

quotes about loving othersBut then I hear my friend tell us how the homeless woman had vomit on her shirt, and how she had to buy air freshener so her car didn’t stink anymore, and I wonder, “Am I really serious about loving others?”

Is there some kind of loophole I can find that will allow me to only love people like me? (tweet this)

I read the last line of the verse again. I’ve been putting myself before others instead of taking what God said seriously. 

I can only be fair, just, compassionate and loyal when I think others hopes, dreams and desires are as important as my own. 

I can only love well when I believe someone is worth loving. (tweet this)

I find myself searching for words again, “God, forgive me for thinking more of myself than I should. Teach me how to love and open my eyes to see how worthy of love every person is.”

Ponder: What part of Micah 6:8 speaks to you? Is there some area of this verse where you feel you could improve in the way you love others?

Prayer: God, forgive me for thinking more of myself than I should. Teach me how to love and open my eyes to see how worthy of love every person is.

{A Note from Wendy}
I never intended to turn this into a series but I’m beginning to think maybe God has other ideas. In some ways, this is part 2 of the post I shared on Monday: When love is hard (or when you’re worried love will mean you have to move to South Sudan). The lessons I’m learning about love make me feel uncomfortable. Part of me doesn’t want others to know how little I know of loving others but I think this part of God’s plan to teach me how to love by ripping away the masks I wear that imply I have it all together. So I’m letting my heart, and His lessons, bleed onto this blog and trusting that God will complete the work he’s started.


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Photo Credits (Creative Commons): Cactus and Stairs Unsplash.com Wash line: Tal Bright | Design and modifications: Wendy van Eyck

Monday, 14 July 2014

When love is hard (or when you're worried love will mean you have to move to South Sudan)

God is made of love
The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. 1 John 4:8 (MSG)

Love.

I don’t know why but the word makes me uncomfortable, so uncomfortable that for years I couldn’t write, “Love, Wendy”, on cards or letters or emails. 

I would write anything but “love”. 

Recently, I’ve started ending my letters with “love”. I’ve started scrawling love out in scratches that resemble a doctors’ badly written script. 

God is love scripture 1 John 4:8
I’ve started taping “L-O-V-E” out at the end of emails. 

And I’ve begun trying to live into those four letters I’ve been so scared to write. 

For me “love” has never been just a word. 

Love has never been something to give away freely but something to share only with those who I considered worthy of my love.

Love has been something I’ve hoarded, weighed and measured out. 

But I’m realizing that isn’t how God is with love. 

God is generous with his love. He drips his love on everyone. 

If you’re Pope Francis God gives you a hug. 
If you’re a little girl with no friends God will come sit with you.
If you’re a mother with no patience for her kids God will surprise you with flowers. 
If you’re a serial murderer, God’s got love for you.

It doesn’t matter what your story is God’s love will find you. 

God gives love away like he is made of the stuff. (tweet this)

In fact, 1 John 4:8, says God is made of love.

And that blows my mind.

When I read 1 John again slowly, reading each word, my heart ached. I thought about how for so long I’ve refused to love and by doing so I’ve been missing an opportunity to know God.

I’ve started to pray, “Lord, show me how to love.” 
But I guess what I’m really praying is, “Lord, show me who you are.”

God is love
Part of me freaks out every time I pray this prayer because I know that love is messy. 

I know that love bleeds, and cries, and dies for others. I know this because God is love, and he did that for me. (tweet this)

So the part of me that forgets God is love worries, that when I pray this, he’ll send me to South Sudan to live in a shack with no electricity and water. This part of me thinks that God is out to get me.

But the part of me that remembers God is knitted together with love tells me that there is no fear in love (1 John 4:18), and when I think like that, I only reveal that I don’t know the first thing about love, about God. 

Ponder: How do you think your capacity for loving others affects your relationship with God?

Prayer: Lord, show me how to love like you have loved me. (tweet this)

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In my free e-book Life, Life and More Life I share thoughts on how to make every moment count gleaned from my experiences of loving my husband through 18 sessions of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. If you would like a free copy please subscribe below to receive my devotionals every Monday and Friday.

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Photo Credits (Creative Commons): Fighting Birds: VinothChandar Tissue Flowers: Brandon Christopher Warren Socks: photo credit: demandajDesign and derivative works from originals photos: Wendy van Eyck