Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.
Greetings from Pastor Dan!
It’s really hard to actively love a person when they’re making life difficult for you. Especially when you’re at your wit’s end. Last week, late at night, as I was coming back from a few days in Rhode Island, I hit what must have been a large raccoon or a bobcat or something as it bolted across the highway. It caused a surprising amount of damage to the bottom of my car, and I had to wait for a tow-truck to take me the hour I still had remaining back to York. Then I had to wait in the mechanics’ parking lot until the sun was rising before a taxi could get to me from Portsmouth. A two-hour nap on my office couch later and I was “ready” for the day, starting promptly with the 9am Bible Study. The rest of the day’s work was punctuated by increasingly complicated phone conversations with the insurance company, the mechanics’, and the rental car agency.
Somebody somewhere along the line messed up. (It wasn’t me, I promise.) There was a pretty significant human error in the chain that derailed the whole process and caused me no end of grief. Here I am, a pastor, sitting in his church office with church books on the desk and a painting of Jesus and the disciples on the wall, and I encounter one of those moments where the rubber meets the proverbial road.
Do I walk the walk? Do I, on two hours of sleep, echoes of anxiety, and all the frustration in the world, truly love this insurance adjuster who has made my day three times harder than it already was (and it was hard enough to begin with)? Well, I don’t know if I had the actual capacity to feel any sort of complex emotion at that point, so I did the best I could. I loved through action.
When a supervisor finally came on the line, ready to bring the wrath of God down on the adjuster who had screwed the proverbial pooch, instead of hopping on-board the complain train and throwing this adjuster who had simply made a mistake (not incompetence or intentional mischief, just a simple mistake) under the proverbial bus, I took a different approach. I complimented the things this adjuster had done well, acknowledged how complicated my situation was, and made it clear that I wasn’t out for blood or upset in any way, and was simply happy that the situation was being resolved.
I didn’t want to add to the misery of this world by causing someone else grief, even someone who had caused me grief in the first place. Even on a day when I was at the end of my rope, I tried as hard as I could to respond with love. Not for my sake, but for the sake of another human being who otherwise would probably have ended up having as bad a day as me.
Sometimes love doesn’t come naturally. But God calls us to act in love, even when our hearts aren’t in it.
Especially when our hearts aren’t in it.
Prayer:Gracious God, help me to love, in truth and action, with a love that is bigger than my own heart. Your love. Amen.
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