When “I love you” is a mistake

I love you.

It can be such an easy thing to say, we can end up using it only flippantly. Maybe throwing it out during a lull in conversation. Maybe treating it as a farewell akin to goodbye. We think we should love, we’re expected to love, so we say we do. We sometimes skip right over “like” and use “love” just as a means to impress the one we address.

But is love really something that can so easily be thrown around? Is it merely a souvenir of a couples’ time together; a bauble that looks pretty on a ladie’s finger?

Does it really mean anything? Is it the conveyor of our deepest sentiments, or just something to fill up the space in our interactions with others?

Well, if we separate love from God, I think it is exactly what I’ve just described: a cheep trinket used to impress both those who give it and those who get it–and hopefully those who observe from the sidelines!

But shouldn’t there be another name for this kind of thing–something that suits it better than the misconstrued L-term? Maybe the other L-word: lust? Or, Infatuation? Self-interest? Keeping up appearances? Relationship insurance?

I think that last one hits what I’m trying to get at right on the head! (Am I glad I just picked up that telemarketing phone call that was advertizing life-insurance!) How many of us do things, say things, pretend things just to insure that our relationships stay where they are, stay a part of our life? Far too often I think.

The problem with this is not always that it doesn’t work, but in its deceit it insulates us from the other person and establishes the relationship on less than true love and commitment.

Self-love and self-commitment is not love or commitment–at least not what can be considered worthy currency to invest in a relationship. Then it is not a relationship which offers mutual benefits, but a service agreement that subsists on the level of personal pleasure derived from it.

That doesn’t sound a lot like God’s love. That sounds like man (meaning humans) loving for the sake of giving to himself. How do we get away from this? How do we learn to not only acknowledge what real love is, but practice it consistently?

We connect with God, who is love, and then we connect with others so that His love can flow through us and into others. We don’t let our love get in the way. In fact, we move ourselves out of the way, out of the center, and let God be God. Then we give Him our will as a free-will offering, knowing that when God has the will, He has the man. And that man will no longer live for Himself because Christ will live in him and make love full in him.

Restraint wins when Christ compels it

In our culture we put a lot of emphasis on doing. But what happens when God tells us not to do what we would normally do to fix our problems; to decrease the impact of our trials?

Do we tell God to go take a heavenly hike, and let our anger take us to places that He forbids so we can make our lives full of what we want, or do we let ourselves feel the sting of letting go of our dreams for God’s?

Are we willing to bear the weight of commitment brutally enough to push our belief in God to the next level?

Are we willing to stand up and fight on until the truth takes up such residence in us that we can live for nothing else?

Will everything you would continue to live for advance the vital causes of any one but yourself? Could you even be sure that it would make good your own?

The path we desire for ourselves may look bright and beautiful ahead, but nothing can be godless and yet bless us for a lifetime.

We must ask ourselves what is my lifetime going to look after I’ve followed this path? Will I soon be looking back over +40 years of regret because I thought I wanted so much less than God?

Oh, Come Surrender!

Growing in God takes work. Work that comes with the richest of rewards. Yet sometimes we feel like the rewards aren’t worth the work. We see it as an extra expense of time, energy, and commitment. We don’t want to invite anything else into our lives other than what we already have overwhelming us. Focusing on spiritual growth seems to promise the pressure that finally sinks us.

We want a break from all these things that steal our precious emotional, mental and physical resources. We already have a lot going on; who needs more, right?

I know. I’ve been there. And, yet, I’ve since been beyond there too. I have seen God answer prayers for Him to put the life of my spirit on the front burner, while He also made sure that everything else that was simmering in my life wouldn’t boil over and burn me.

Well, contrary to my expectations when I first surrendered my stove top to God, He has been able to do so much more than keep everything going — He has taken care of me and made my greatest needs priority over all the little things I was always harried by trying to keep right. As I relied on Him, He enabled my spirit to grow. As I watched His strength and love on display for me each day, I learned what a joy dependence is when it is known in Him.

An understanding of how life was meant to be lived has come out of this. Every day I learn what it means to live secondary to God, dependent upon Him for everything that I need. I don’t have to rush ahead and make sure I have lined up everything I need for tomorrow. I can rest. I work on what He gives me today, and let Him do all the planning for my tomorrows. After all, tell me who is already there?