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

 

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Focus

Focus is an easy thing to lose. Being a photographer, I have a passionate understanding of the relationship between focus and a subject. The slightest jolt or movement can take your subject from being perfectly focus to a blurry mess.

My relationship with God isn’t unlike this at all. There are days, weeks, or even months where my focus is on Christ and everything else is blurry. My focus is on the object of my affection, and it is a glorious and beautiful thing!

What causes my lens to go out of focus when it comes to God?
God doesn’t change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8) Therefore it is NOT God who is moving out of focus, it is myself.

Consider the following things that cause cameras to lose focus:

  1. Bumps

    I just got back from Washington, DC. It was beautiful! It was also quite possible the largest tourist attraction I  have ever been to. I love taking photos on trips. So I would be snapping away. I walked to the Lincoln Memorial and was in awe of how massive it was. Naturally I wanted to take a photo, but found this to be difficult because of all the people who were surrounding me. Imagine setting up your best shot then *bump* someone hits your arm mid snap…ok…lets try this again *bump* mid snap again. Not only do you lose focus off the subject, you end up with a useless image.

    • Bumps are often unexpected
    • Bumps are unintentionally harmful
    • Bumps can make a beautiful picture useless
    • In my relationship with Jesus, bumps get in the way A LOT. Financial bumps, relational bumps, and even emotional bumps. They seem to be a tactic the enemy uses to his advantage greatly.
    • Father, purge my life of the bumps that distract my field of vision from you. May you stand in my place and take the bumps for me, for you are a loving Father who cares for us.
  2. Shallow Depth of Field
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Depth of Field Example
  • Depth of field is defined as the zone of acceptable sharpness within a photo that will appear in focus. The wonderful thing about D.O.F. is the ability to blur out everything except for the finest details of your subject. No matter how busy or ugly your background is, you have the ability to focus solely on the object you’re shooting.
  • D.O.F. is tricky. Once you have your camera is set to snap a photo that is shallow, you can not move or your subject will once again be out of focus. It’s easy to rock forward or backwards after establishing your shot which causes you to come out with a blurry image.
  • I find that there are times when I am solely focused on Christ and all else is blurry but then I waver. I rock back and forth and He falls out of my field of view. It becomes increasingly difficult to “refocus” back onto him after this, and often something else falls into my field of view.
  • Father, May you be the sole object of my affections. May you be the one I have my D.O.F. set to. When I waver, may your gentle guidance and unwavering hand guide me back to where you desire me to be. Thank you for being constant.

3. Distractions

  • Occasionally people or objects will walk into your field of view. this causes you to stop looking at your subject all together until they move out of the way
    • For myself, this is incredibly common. Something seems out of control. Something or someone stands in the view of God blocking my focus and attention. And commonly I lose it. I emotionally bottom out  and forget that He is in control.

 


Father,

When something unpredictable happens in my life, please remind me that you are all knowing and control the future. You, Father, are the creator of the future, therefore you know what it holds. Allow me to follow the words of Christ and be anxious only for today. Father, may my spiritual field of vision be ever set on you. Allow the distractions to fade away and let your glorious light shine above all else. Give me the strength to relentlessly pursue you. If i lose focus, give me the clarity to re-focus and set my desires and devotion on you.

Your Servant,
Matt