What Compels Us?
I didn't understand love on my wedding day. How could I? I was still broken and raw from a lifetime of hurt. It was the grace of God that led me to my husband. I loved him, on that day the best I could. I had no idea on that day what I was receiving from Jesus. He gave me a man to love me and cherish me the way he always intended but it wasn't because I knew anything about love that I married the man God always intended.
It was because God is faithful, even when we are broken.
I remember the moment I held my first baby. In that moment, something rushed over me and through me that I had never felt before. I was not healthy in my heart or mind, but I knew I was experiencing unconditional love in that moment. I felt love in a way that I had never understood. And I remember...I remember my heart echoing a question in the quite of that hospital room, as my baby slept at my side...
"Is this how God loves me?"
I didn't ask him, you see, because I was afraid of him, afraid he might not say yes. I just asked myself that question, because I was oh, so desperate to believe I could be loved like that. That was over ten years ago, and the beginning of a journey I could not even have fathomed at the time.
It's been almost a year since I began my work with the impoverished and trafficked in my city. Almost a year of coming face to face with the most broken, hurting souls I've ever encountered. Those first few encounters wreaked havoc on my heart, left me completely broken and feeling things I had never felt. I wasn't sure if I could do it, but love drew me back, over and over because love had won me.
Love had won me.
See, I had come to a place before I stepped one single foot on any street or in any brothel that my Jesus did love me furiously and passionately. I had asked him that question somewhere along the way -the one I had been afraid to ask for all those years -and he had answered loud and clear.
"Jesus, is that how much you love me?"
"More, love. Much more."
That truth settled so deep in my heart that I didn't even know what to do with it for a few years. I wrote a book, a story that poured out of the cracks in my heart where Jesus was abiding. He brought more healing through that story, more love. I wrote furiously in my journal, daily, all my discoveries and was overwhelmed when Jesus started talking back to me, pouring love out in ways I didn't know he could. My soul caught on fire then, and the tug and pull to step out became so great I couldn't contain it. Right then was when the door opened for me to go see what was behind the curtain, see what the most broken souls in this world look like. And as I did that, something profound started happening.
Jesus began loving through me.
To be loved by God is beyond my comprehension, but to realize that he is loving others through me? The holiness of those moments can't be penned in simple words. His presence comes in tangible ways in those moments, and I can't really explain it other than to say that when I walk away from those moments, I know I've been in the presence of the Father.
And the presence of the Father is what my soul thirst for.
Love is the only banner I can wave, now. I don't understand it all, haven't figured out a whole lot, but I know the love of my Father now and my soul has found rest in Him. Being loved is what restored me; loved in my weakness, my confusion, even my anger. Love gave me hope, peace, joy; all the things I lacked. Then, when he started loving through me, I found courage and boldness.
Love really does cast out fear. That's not something you can memorize or break apart theologically. It's an experience you have to have with Jesus. It's a walking it out journey of surrender and accepting what can never be earned. As long as you cling to this world and the things of it, you can't understand this love. It's an abandoned, died to self, seeking only Jesus kind of love. It's so overwhelming and consuming that things that once mattered become obsolete. When the love of Jesus consumes you, everything else fades away.
The world needs this love, don't you think? The world is starved for it. Jesus has shown me, as I've walked the streets and knelt before drug addicts and lost girls to share the gospel of peace, that there is nothing his love can't conquer. Love is what heals. Love is what restores. Love is what gives courage and hope and every single solitary thing we lack.
Love, friends. Love.
Many will stand before Jesus on that final day and be stunned when he tells them, with grief and sorrow, to leave his presence because he didn't know them. They will present their lists of deeds and - with tears in his eyes - he will send them away, because they never knew him.
Jesus is not looking for our resumes, he's looking for our hearts.
Jesus paid a high price to sit at the table with us. Love compelled him to give it all up, and love compels us to do the same...
Love compels us to do the same.