I confess, I get a little panicked every time I have a respiratory thing. After all, just over one year ago, in a matter of seconds, I went from hearing to not. I held my nose and blew. I yawned. All in effort to pop my ear. Nothing. Then I was told that my hearing in that ear would not likely return. Gone. Completely.
So, after 4 bouts with something in as many months, I have allowed myself to get a little cranky. I curl up in bed, I doctor myself with every home remedy I can research, and I pray, “please, Father, don’t let me loose my other ear”. So… when time came for my Thursday night Bible Study, I snapped at Randy, “I don’t feel like it, tell them I am sick”. “You have to go, they are expecting you”.
With not an ounce of graciousness… completely void of any semblance of love… I dragged myself out of bed, threw on a wrapped and pouted out the house towards the church. I didn’t grab my Bible. I didn’t pray. I didn’t apologize to Randy. I didn’t feel like it.
Sure enough… Leah came in, then Mary. Just the three of us, good this should be short, I thought. The other 8 or so women didn’t come, my booklet of verses I had had printed and were to be delivered for them all hadn’t come… and… I didn’t feel like it. So I was totally expecting a quick prayer… a few back and forths… and… Kwaheri, tutaonan! Bye, see you!
First, Leah shared about a hyena that had been outside her house the night before. She shared about the fear that rose up because of the witchcraft that is thought to be associated with them. She told me of how she called Pastor Rueben and he had prayed with her and she sat there reading her Bible until she fell asleep.
I was quick to remind her – God says, be strong and of good courage, for the Lord your God is with you!!! He has NOT given us a spirit of fear – but of love, courage and a sound mind. We just submit to Jesus, resist the devil… and… HE WILL FLEE!!!
I had an answer for her. It was truth. And it came forth from my mouth with instinct. Heartless, loveless, but purposed truth none the less.
Then Mary, in Akeguisi, the mother tongue, began to share as she ruffled through the pages of her Bible. She was looking for something specifically. Then she started to read. Leah then read it in English. I Corinthians 13. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels… though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge and though I have all faith, so to move mountains… Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor… though I give my body to be burned… …and have not LOVE Sounding brass, clanging cymbals, I am nothing, and it all profits me… NOTHING!
Mary was feeling condemned. Mary was feeling loveless. This sweet precious woman who earlier in the day I had asked to fix lunch for 10 extra men with no thought of her time, no thought of the effort and work necessary, this woman who said to me, “no problem” in her heavy African accented English…. was feeling unloving.
BETWEEN the eyes… the entire message… straight between the eyes!
First… fear. Honestly, I have battled this fear for over a year. The last thing the doctor said to me after several attempts to glean some hope… “take care of that other ear and don’t let things go untreated.” I actually hear his voice in my head. Fear. Curled up in my bed, fear. Pleading with God, fear.
And here I am telling Leah, you don’t have to fear the witchcraft or hyenas. Just trust God!! Submit to God, resist the devil…
Then… love… I just spent 3 months back home studying 1 John. What manner of love has the Father lavished on us… that we should be called… CHILDREN OF GOD!!! He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. In this the love of God was manifested towards ME…. That God sent Jesus, to die for me… that I might live through Him!!!
Based on His prayer in the garden… I’m pretty sure… Jesus didn’t feel like it.
One thing I have learned is that I can’t do it. I can’t even pretend to love… because lots of times… I just don’t feel like it.
But He has called me to love. He has set that as the highest command… love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind and the second is like it… Love your neighbor as yourself.
THIS is my measuring stick. This is how I must judge myself, 1 Corinthians 13.
Oh Jesus… Forgive me! I have been selfish and unbelieving. I have taken my eye off You! Forgive me! Fill me with YOU, YOUR Spirit, YOUR Love! May I be kind and gentle, may I suffer long, not envy, not be prideful, may I not behave rudely or seek my own need or purpose, may I not be provoked or think evil, may I not rejoice in iniquity but may I rejoice, may I dance and may I live in TRUTH… May I bear all things, believe all things, hope all things and endure all things!!!!
I need YOU! I need Your grace! I need Your love! I need Your Holy Spirit! May I be obedient to You, may I be quick to love You by loving others… Even when I don’t feel like it!