So this morning I was listening to an awesome Jarrod McKenna sermon on loving people and foot-washing and living in community (amongst other things).
And having been on a bit of a journey this last year in terms of what God has been teaching me about loving Him and loving people and community living, I found it beautifully refreshing and really inspiring.
About God working through our love and changing us through our love for others. And calling us to live. And causing us to live. And moving in the Lazarus-inspired moments where things that we think are dead get called to radiant life.
Living beautifully. Loving completely.
Loving Jesus with everything. The completeness of everything.
Loving people with everything. Into the completeness of everything.
As I get older, I think I’ve become more comfortable in my own skin and the knowledge that living beautifully still takes place in the shades that exist on this mosaic journey. The journey in which we relate to each other.
Accepting the mosaic journey makes it more simple.
Simply living for Jesus and walking hand-in-hand with Holy Spirit and rising each day to make that choice to love Him fully. And in that loving other better.
Simple. But yet still a mosaic.
Fragmented pieces becoming whole in each other.
Living beautifully doesn’t avoid mess, it embraces it.
Living beautifully acknowledges that I am at heart a broken wreck in need of a Saviour who loves me into wholeness.
Living beautifully acknowledges the fullness of who God has made me to be me and the continual refining work of His grace. Living beautifully relishes the realities of early mornings and the comfort of oversized sweaters. Living beautifully accepts my perpetually messy hair and my addiction for tea in it’s various forms. Living beautifully lives and enjoys the journey. Living beautifully means I can share this real me with others and receive the real them that they offer in return.
To quote another, living beautifully leads me to crave adventure and a life filled with magic in the smallest of things. That’s the smallest.
To open my eyes to the beauty that God placed all around me.
To never lose my wonder of it all.
To never lose my laugher in it all.
The more I walk this journey called life, the more I realise that joy comes in doing the things that feed your soul and not your ego.
Eternal things are more important treasures.
Living beautifully means that I am freed to dream passionately. That even in my times of wild prayers and tear-soaked-eyes and feelings of failure, God’s faithfulness towards me is my constant strength. Constant. His mercy is my one and only constant.
Dreaming passionately means that as I am emptied of myself, there is more room for His mercy and His Kingdom and His eternity. More room for His fruit. More room for His love. Because He is Love.
Remembering that eternal things are more important treasures.
I am led into loving completely. Loving God with all my heart and my soul and my mind and my strength and my vision and my passion and my purpose.
Let's pause here.
Intense love does not measure, it just gives. (Mother Teresa)
God’s definition of what matters is pretty straightforward. He measures our lives by how we love. (Francis Chan)
Cruelty and wrong are not the greatest forces in the world. There is nothing eternal in them. Only love is eternal. (Elisabeth Elliot)
Who is a God like You, pardoning inquity… Because He delights in mercy… You will cast all our sins in not the depths of the sea. (Micah 7: 18-19)
I’ve been really becoming more aware of the importance of people.
Because people are eternal.
They are the only eternal thing that God has given us on this earth.
My money and my possessions and all the ‘stuff’ that I spend so much time accumulating won’t carry on forever. It will wear out and grow old and break. My fashion sense will go fabulously out of fashion. My earthly beauty will age. These temporary distractions and temporary trappings that we work so hard to maintain and sustain.
We will live forever.
I believe that. My spirit was created to live with God for the rest of eternity.
The spirit of man was intended for the Spirit of the Uncreated One.
And in my thankful simplicity, I guess I come back to this.
I want to love people in the way that Jesus loved people.
Because He did everything to be close to us. He loves us out of our sinfulness and into His holiness.
He loves us into an eternity with Him.
And I want to pour my life out in a way that radiates that love.
I want to be broken, to cry in prayer, to be burdened and to not look back and count the cost. For their sake. For His sake.
I want to allow my heart to be changed and moulded and softened.
My reflections take me back to the way that Jesus demonstrated this love, not just through his death, but in his life.
He treated people with such value.
Even the invaluable.
Even the unloved.
Even the unnoticed.
Especially the outcast.
His love restored everyone it touched.
And it still does.
I want to know the reality of this love in the depths of my own heart, so that from those depths I can truly love others in the way he calls.
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.
These are not the grand acts that make us famous. There’s nothing in these commands that can boost our ego or our reputation. Helping the homeless doesn’t often give you an earthly reward. Stopping to visit the sick or the imprisoned doesn’t often take you into earthly mansions. Walking slowly enough to notice the one who is shivering takes us out of the fast-running-past that life mostly takes place at.
But yet, this is what Jesus is looking for.
Our humility, expressed in how we love.
Our love, expressed in our humility.
I remember again being 15 half a lifetime ago and heading off to America with my youth group, and joining with a homeless volunteer project based on the brutally cold winter streets of Minneapolis. We met with this old Catholic woman who ran a project that gave meals and temporary housing to those who were desperate.
She prayed with us and for us.
And then we watched her wash the feet of every single person who came through the doors. Seriously.
Every single person. Hundreds. Probably thousands over the years.
In the unseen, in what many thought was unnecessary or extravagant, she felt that restoring people’s dignity came through forging a connection that was deeper than the physical and reached into their humanity.
She fought a spiritual battle with a towel and a bowl of water. And with love.
With a love that restores the eternal in us.
And today, my prayer is that I can love like that.