The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23
It moves us. Compels us.
Sometimes it breaks us.
Recently my heart broke under its weight as we said goodbye to our beloved Annie, our Australian Shepherd puppy-person that melted our hearts from the first day we met her.
Some of you may not understand such a strong attachment to a four-legged creature. But perhaps you’ve never opened your heart to receive the love of one.
You see, our Annie never held her love back like people do. She gave it. Freely.
She always greeted us with enthusiastic kisses—whether we’d been gone for 15 minutes or 15 days—and she loved snuggles more than anyone I know. Her tender heart often reflected our moods. She would share joys and bear burdens, lovingly coming near to lay with me and comfort me when she sensed my heart hurting.
Annie knew how to make a girl feel special. She followed me wherever I went in the house—even if only to run back upstairs to grab something I forgot. But Annie was unconcerned over the reason for going. She simply went. Because nothing gave her greater joy than to be in the presence of the one who loved and took care of her.
Over these last ten years, she taught me so much about unconditional love. But recently, as cancer revealed itself in our family again—this time in our furry, precious loved one—a fresh awareness of the cross washed over me. While laying with Annie to comfort her when disease had rapidly taken her strength and she could no longer get up to follow me, an overwhelming desire to release her suffering gripped my heart.
And I realized. That’s precisely how God feels about our suffering. He aches. And He wants to remove everything that hinders our capacity to enjoy one another completely.God wants to remove everything that hinders our capacity to enjoy one another completely. Click To Tweet
But being God, He’s able to do something about it. And He did. He sent His Son to bear our suffering, so that He could redeem it. And suffering itself became the catalyst for our redemption.
Christ’s love flowed red at Calvary, beloved.
Now the only thing that can keep us from the power of His love is our refusal to receive it. A guarded heart that won’t open to love will never experience its resurrection power.
And so the enemy of our souls keeps us fearing love.
In this fallen world we live in, we’re going to hurt, dear one. Man’s choice to separate from God brought pain—pain the enemy of our souls has convinced us we can escape if we avoid loving freely.
But you and I were created to love. Made in the image of the God of love, we can never experience the joy of abundant life without loving. Love brings life to dead places. It exhilarates. It heals. And yes, sometimes it hurts.
But the beauty of pure love reveals itself in its faithfulness. In love’s embrace, even the hurt will become joy again as love heals.
You and I don’t want to run from love, beloved. We want to run toward it. We want to dive headlong straight into the arms of its Source. So we can become it. And give it. Freely. Because only as we give it can we receive what it gives. Jesus said so in Luke 6:38,
“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
But loving takes faith, dear one. We’ve got to trust to love. We must love without fear.
God is love. Love is eternal. Love never fails. Nothing entrusted to love is ever lost, and nothing birthed out of love well ever die. But there are some places that love does not grow; love cannot flourish in the company of its rival, fear. Fear has an end—actually, fear is a dead end. Fear is an ungodly spirit that leads to torment. Fear advises from its seat in the shadow of doubt, while love draws its wisdom from the light of faith. If you heed the counsel of fear for too long, you will fail.
(Lisa Bevere, THE ONE THING I WOULD CHANGE IN MY MARRIAGE, Messenger International, http://messengerinternational.org/blog/lisa-devotional/one-thing-change-marriage/)
As I lay holding Annie, my heart in shattered pieces under the heavy weight of loss, I never regretted my decision to love her. My lips offered a sacrifice of praise to my God for the privilege of it. I thanked Him for the cuddles and kisses, the laughter, and the joy. And I know my heart—though broken—will keep beating. My Father’s love will heal and mend it, making it even stronger. Increasing its capacity, and allowing it to give even more.
Beloved, when we love, we bear our Father’s image.
Don’t hold back from love, dear one. Become it. Give it. Feel it.
And live reaping its resurrection power.