Tuesday, December 15, 2015


I’m blessed to have people in my life who consistently ask me, “How can I pray for you?”  My answer lately has been, “You can pray that I would be more loving.”

I find myself wondering from the prescribed lectionary Advent readings to the familiar words of 1 Corinthians 13, the famous Love Chapter.  There I find a menu of things I am: impatient, envious, boastful, and self-seeking.  I am an accountant, making a meticulous record of wrongs that have been done to me.  My keen memory is fabulous for the work of a librarian, but cumbersome when it comes to forgiveness. 

This idea of agape love that Paul is illustrating in chapter 13 evokes the picture of a love-feast.  As if our lives were a banquet table, all of our love spread out and available for others to enjoy.  Overflowing amounts of patience, kindness, and goodness to go around, gobs of protection, trust, and perseverance.  But, so often, my love does not look like a banqueting table.  Lately, my love looks more like a food fight.  I want to dip my spoon into the lime green Jello-O of envy, cock it backwards in a catapult, and fling it!

How do we become more loving?

How do we put down our spoons, putting the ways of childhood behind us like Paul suggests?

This, I have been pondering, for the better part of a decade.

We could pray for those who persecute us. (I think I just shot milk through my nose.) How interesting of David to observe in Psalm 23 that the Lord prepares a table before him in the presence of his enemies, as if the love feast were especially available when we find it most challenging to commune with others. I’m learning that prayer for those who persecute us is more than an act of obedience, more than the “Christian” thing to do.  Sometimes the inky black that surrounds our enemies is more layered, confusing, and dark than our human souls can handle.  In our pursuit to love our enemies, we must reach out to the Light of World.  He is our only hope for a break through. 

We could spend time with people who suffer.  People who experience overwhelming need have so much to show us about the sustaining power and friendship of God towards those He loves.  The preciousness of their lives may motivate us to take an honest look in the mirror, realizing that we have both a real need and greater capacity for love and compassion in our hearts.  It is what has propelled me to accept the invitation to take a seat at the Table, simply asking the Father if I could have a second helping of His never-failing love.

For the past year or so, the name John Stumbo has come across in conversation.  One day he was running marathons, and the next he was he was lying in the hospital.  Unexplained weakness had visited his body, and for reasons that are unclear, John lost the ability to swallow.  His muscles simply stopped working.  John has now recovered from his mysterious illness, but what has taken place in his heart and mind is still unfolding.  He has since written two books, and is now the president of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.  I will include his thought-provoking testimony at the bottom at this post if you’re interested in watching.

I want to leave you with this beautiful essay written by John about love.  It is inspiring and convicting.  I hope you take the time to read it.

Here is just a preview:

Love is not about “look at me; see what I can do.” It’s not about how smart I am, how cool I act, how witty I can be, or how much God has used me. It’s not about how big my ministry is, how many books I’ve sold, how many books I’ve read, how many likes I get on Facebook, or how many people like me at all. Love isn’t about how much I’ve sacrificed or how hard I’ve worked. It’s not about my talents, my interests, my success, my anything.
Love isn’t primarily about me.
Love is patient with the person who doesn’t get the point the first or the fifth time.
Love is kind enough to do for another person at any moment what we wish others were kind enough to do for us.
Love is happy for someone when he or she succeeds, gets a promotion, a raise, a great vacation, a nicer car, a nicer home . . . has another child, a happy marriage, good health. Love is happy for those who are living the dream we can’t seem to attain.
Here is the link to entire article by John Stumbo, written in early November 2015: http://www.cmalliance.org/alife/we-will-love/

John’s Testimony

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  1 Corinthians 13:2

1 comment:

  1. So often we've made love seem like the easy choice when instead it's the godly choice. Thanks for this post and the links. I'll read this again and again.