From the Inside of Love

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, and irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Love is a scary thing.
To love someone, whether it be your family, friends, significant other, or spouse, you have to be vulnerable. To re-quote Lewis, “To love at all is to be vulnerable.” The more God gives me the capacity to love others and the more people He places in my life to love, the more I realize this… love hurts. Lewis was onto something.

On this side of Heaven, unconditional love does not exist. We can strive for it, but it will always be filtered through the fallen nature of our humanity. The brokenness will always remain while we are here on earth. The only way to stay safe from it is to shield yourself. The only way to keep from getting hurt is to build walls around your heart. The troubling thing about walls is the fact that they are two sided. When you begin to guard your love and build walls around your heart, not only are you keeping love out, you are impeding your ability to extend love. It becomes irredeemable. This is where vulnerability comes into play.

You have to be OK with the scars of your past. You have to be OK with your fears being exposed knowing that they are going to still love you when the ugliness shows. You have to be OK with the possibility of heartbreak. After all, if heartbreak didn’t exist, would we ever know what love truly is? Maybe, but it would be convoluted.

How much different would our experience with love be if we considered these things in the microcosm of Perfect Love that we display to each other in our everyday relationships?

Only careful evaluation and prayers for clarity will tell.

I’m reminded deeply of my conversion experience. When you take a man who is consumed with self-hatred, shame, and anger, it is impossible for him to experience any good emotion. Love becomes nullified in light of fear. That’s why our Perfect Savior leaves these words with us through John:

“…God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the Day of Judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.

You have to abandon fear and cling to the promise that Love exist to cast out fear, and God’s perfect love is not content with your fear. Fear has to do with punishment; love has to do with freedom.

I’m incredibly thankful that God abolished fear from being a controlling factor in my life.
It’s still a struggle, and much like many of you, I battle fear daily…
but His perfect love is casting it out. I hope to resonate this love out of the overflow of the Love of Christ. No matter what type of love it may be.

When we begin to change our perspective and see people from the inside of love, our relationships will begin to be less broken. When we anticipate great things instead of cowering in fear wondering what may be, and when we fight to be examples of the way we wish to be loved, the way we interact with others will begin to change. We’ll begin to look more like Jesus. It doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t make you a doormat. It does however free you from fear, and fear will make you its doormat. Fear will make you weak.

It took me a long time to trust Jesus. He broke me. He brought me to himself. He showed me what love is. He showed me how to love from His perspective. From the inside of love. I tasted that greatness. It both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. And I will never be the same. I will live of love. I will love others the way I want to be loved. I will love from the overflow of His redemption. I will do this till the day I die. And on that day, my prayer and hope is the legacy left behind will be one of someone who was not afraid to love well, love better, and display the Love of Jesus.

In everyday acquaintanceship, in friendships, in romantic relationships, in casual brushes with strangers, there is no such thing as an accidental encounter. His timing is perfect. But you must choose to love. You must choose to stop spending energy building walls and use that energy to build bridges. You have to choose to use that energy to love well.

As for me, I will build bridges not walls.

Choose freedom.
Abandon fear.
Leave it in the darkness,
Where it belongs.


Father,

Continue to draw me unto yourself. Breathe on me until my frame is knit to Your thought. Lift me until I see Your face and trust Your Almightiness without fear or insidious unbelief. Give me the ability to love others as you have loved me. May your freedom reign in this mortal body. May your perfect love continue to cast of fear.

Your Servant,

Matthew

 

For Freedom.

For freedom Christ has set us free;
stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
-Gal. 5:1

No amount of self hate, regret, past mistakes, condemnation, guilt, or shame can take away our freedom. There is NO ulterior motif to the freedom that Christ has given us. Standing firm in the promise of His word will extinguish the fiery darts of the enemy.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry,“Abba! Father!”
Romans 8:15

When I am tempted to despair over the man I was and the people I hurt, these promises ring true. God gave us a spirit of adoption. He set us free and we can stand firm in that freedom. The very offense that brought you to the cross has been redeemed and forgiven. And shame, sorrow, and past regrets are lifted.

Fear not; you will no longer live in shame.
Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you.
You will no longer remember the shame of your youth
and the sorrows of widowhood.
For your Creator will be your husband;
the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name!
He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,
the God of all the earth.
Isaiah 64:4,5

And there is NO CONDEMNATION IN HIM. He looks upon us and says
“Who stands to accuse you? Go and sin no more.”


Father,

Continue to wreck me with this truth. You are the true artist, and you have interwoven me into a story you have been writing since Creation. Thank you for your redemption. Thank you for your perfect love that casts out fear. Thank you for the freedom that is found in  your forgiveness.

YOU PAID THE PRICE. NOW I AM FINALLY FREE.

BEAUTIFULLY BROKEN

The scene had been set.
The undesirable sinner walked toward the home of her prestigious accusers.
The Carpenter teaching the ways of the Father speaks to the prominent men.
Laughing, learning, teaching, hearing.
Then all voices stand silent at the unpredicted staggering sight before them,
The woman walks into the room…

The weight of shame prevented her from lifting her eyes from the ground.
She looked not to anyone…but only to the One she sought.
Walking into the room she sees the One who forgives,
Standing with the men who denounce her very life.

Shame couldn’t speak for her.
Fear melted away.
Regret faded.
She looked upon His face.

There He sits.
The Carpenter.
The Nazarene.
The Prophet.
Messiah.

Falling to his feet at the sight of his resplendent eyes
She responds with bountiful amount of tears.
Wetting the feet of the only man who has the power to condemn or forgive.
The weight of seeking salvation through worldly means had broken her.
She wets the feet of her newly found Messiah with sorrowing tears.

Weeping.
Uncontrollable lamentation.
She couldn’t speak.
But He knew her thoughts.
He knew her every sin.
Her every avenue of countless abuses of grace.

She unravels her hair,
Wiping the feet of the One who Forgives,
as he wiped away her veil of shame.

Knowing her every thought.
Looking upon her with nothing but compassion in his eyes
and forgiveness in his voice
He calls to her accusers.

“Do you not see? With much forgiveness comes much love.”

Breaking an alabaster jar
She pours the ointment on his feet
Beautifully broken, pouring everything she owned
On the feet of the One who saves.

The sweet smell of redemption filled the room.
The sweet smell of forgiveness that could only come from the Nazarene.
Her indictors could not escape the nectarous scent
filling the room and the nostrils of the pious.

“Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Shame melts at the sight of our savior.
Like wax before a hot sun.
Shame is interrupted.
A slave no more to the chains of the past.
Redefined by our Savior and given redemption.
Go in peace the mighty savior said.
Even before her enemies a banqueting table was set.
Beautifully broken she stood and feared not
For the Lord was with her.

She’s set free.


The Art of Celebration

Blame.
Shame.
Fear.
Guilt.
Condemnation.

They do not define you.
They do not control you.
They are not your identity.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
-Matthew 11:28-30

Those are the words of Jesus.

Reject shame.
Reject fear.
Reject guilt.
Reject Condemnation.

you are free. you are free. you are free.

JESUS IS YOUR IDENTITY. CLING TO HIM. PRESS HARD INTO JESUS.

never forget…

“…we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
-Hebrews 4:14-16

That is our Jesus.
Hold Fast.
He knows.
He sympathizes.
Be confident.
Draw near to Jesus.
He will give you Mercy and Grace and rest for your soul.

“This is the art of celebration, Knowing we are free from Condemnation. O, praise the one, praise the one, who made an end to all my sin.”