“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
Casting shadows in my lightless office, I was reading in the late afternoon sunlight and hadn't even realized that the sun was setting. Just then, my cell phone rang and caused me to jump as I was engaged in deep ponderings.
"Mama, what are you up to?" chimed the voice of one of my adult children. "I have been so busy, but every day, I still want to know you love me and are thinking about me, so I thought I would give you a call. You know there is no substitute for your affirmation and to know that you are still thinking about me."
Daily, my phone rings and one of my children is on the line. We are a tight group, joined at the hip, so to speak. My children go all over the world for their jobs, have friends and function as mature adults. But, our friendship just grows deeper and deeper. They are my best friends, next to Clay. And we are their dearest companions.
So it was with Jesus. Eating together, walking roads, arguing opinions, sleeping under the stars, sharing fears, thoughts, dreams and jokes--this was the nature of the friendship with the disciples that knit their hearts so intimately with their savior, they were energized, driven and excited to spend the rest of their lives telling the world about their closest, most trusted friend, their heavenly Father, Jesus.
Love is the foundation of discipling relationship with children, just as love is the foundation of Jesus' relationship with me.
Without love, without relationship, Christianity becomes a list of rules to keep, a dry obedience to adhere to, feelings dulled and heart longing for more--yet, doubts, insecurities crop up in our hearts and we feel guilty "feeling" unspiritual, and hoping no one notices, especially God.
And yet, this is not the work of our God, but a picture of the veil of Satan whispering to us our inadequacy, the ways we fall short every day.
This lie steals too much life from too many.
When we observe the lives of the disciples--vibrant, alive with faith and hope, filled with an energy that can only come from being loved and accepted by their God.
This love is still offered to us. And out of this God-love, we invite our children into such a family where the life of God is breathed through all the moments and love becomes the fuel for living with hope, purpose, expectation.
And our own disciples will learn of this love if we express the God love we have been given.
And eventually, we must send our disciples into the world as Jesus did. When they have been trained and understand the kingdom and the King; when they are mature, they too can be redeemers. Jesus said He would not take His disciples out of the world, but asked the Father to keep them from the evil one while they were in it. And so our children too will go out into an antagonistic, difficult world.
But the power that will hold them fast to the ideals they learned in our home will be the bonds of love, the deep companionship we shared, the sympathy they received during hard times, our personal validation of their personal worth, to us and to God. Whatever our voices have been in the daily lives of our children is the voice that will speak to them when they are far away.
Still, we will have the opportunity to be with them, close to them, pursuing them and active in their lives—though now through letters, emails and phone calls. Lonely children, even young adults, need to have someone to lift them up, encourage them, believe in them, and help them—
It is the way of discipleship, motherhood and servant leadership. Living this way expresses the reality of Christ and His life in us.
But I have always said to my children, "There are people in the world who will hurt you, offend you, disappoint you. The natural response is to become offended, to develop bitterness, to fight back. It is natural to hate or react in anger; it is supernatural to love, forgive, give grace, and control your own spirit.''
And so they learn how to extend His love because we have extended it to them.
A woman has such capacity to bring a spirit of grace and beauty into the world if she focuses on the Lord Jesus, if she lives in His love and then reflects that gracious love to her children. Our motivation comes from studying the one who Himself is love and embodies committed love to us through all of His stories when he walked the earth.
Though still growing, I have learned so much about true love, self-sacrifice, commitment, and long-suffering--and it has all made me love Him more because I see how much my life has required those qualities from Him. I have tested Him, misbehaved, thrown tantrums, and pulled away at times. Still He loves me; He died for me while I was yet a sinner, and His grace continues to extend to me now that I am His stumbling child.
Love must grow over years and years to become mature. It must be cultivated and watered and nurtured and protected and worked on again and again. Thank you, sweet Lord, that you showed me the way and went before me to model real love.
Remember His words: "Greater love has no one than this; that a man lay down His life for His friends." John 15:13 How are you doing in the love department? Are there areas where you know you’re still striving against laying down your life? Ask the Lord for help. He is ready to grant it!
• “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails ...” 1 Cor. 13:4-8 This passage is an incredible picture of God, Himself (the Word tells us, “God is love” 1 John 4:8) Take some time to meditate on these verses and rejoice in Who God is!
If you have the desire to go deeper in your study today, plan to join Angela Perritt and me to learn more about discpleship love, about His love for you and about living free from guilt and fear.
We are so thrilled that thousands of women have signed up for this summer study. How amazing and fun it is to think of us joining with 8 languages, groups of women gathering in all corners of the earth to celebrate the reality of God's unfailing love for each of us. Hope you and your friends and daughters can join us!
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