Loving Well

Here I am in 2021 pondering what it means to love well, as a woman and follower of Christ. This has been an intentional question I have been asking for the last four years, but I realize the themes go further back than that.

The following insights fill the first couple of posts on this blog in March 2008 (Post #1, Post #2, Post #3) and continue to challenge and intrigue me today:

  • No amount of love can melt a heart unwilling to receive it. Post #1
  • Self-centered or ego-motivated communication can fail to convey love and truth. Selfless action is far more effective. Post #2
  • To love others well begins with abandoning our agenda (with all its mixed, self-serving motives) and admitting our failure (and inability) to love well (selflessly). Post #3. Only when we confess our emptiness and brokenness can the Spirit of God come and fill us with the life and love of Christ and empower us to love selflessly for the good of others.

To love well, I must come to the end of myself (to my emptiness and inability to love for the good for others) and own my brokenness. I must admit my soul’s inability to produce life-giving connection. I am hovering over these thoughts, knowing I need to dive down deep.

Author Larry Crabb (Inside Out, Understanding People, Fully Alive) has shaped my spiritual framework and understanding of what it means to follow Christ. (I owe the author choice to fellow blogger and friend Mike, who mentioned a couple years ago he was really liking Larry Crabb. Thanks, Mike!) Larry Crabb passed away this year, and I am so grateful he labored to express his spiritual journey as a Christian psychologist in his writings.

Faithfulness

Faith and faithfulness are more similar than we may think. Faith is the fortitude or courage to trust God and act obediently in spite of fear.

I listened last night to a man who wondered if he will press through growing fatigue as he serves people in his job. If God calls him to this work, God will honor his faithfulness and empower him to do it.

For Christians, faith is not just feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Faith is persevering. It is knowing what God commands (direct words like the Ten Commandments as well as situational impressions to follow a vocation, for example), sensing his direction to live out those commands in a particular way, remaining rooted (identity secured) in God’s love, leaning on his divine strength, and following through in action, by his help. Faith is obedience at the core.

“And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Hebrews 6:11-12

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 10:39-11:1

The trail we climb

The trail we climb is sometimes wide and spacious, with grassy spaces and places to sit or enjoy grand vistas. Sometimes it is narrow and we have to grip the rock or tree to keep from slipping. And other times it is grueling and steep and challenges our heart to capacity.

We never know what’s ahead. We only know what we’ve already seen and experienced. God tells us to walk, to press on. All climbers say to keep walking, to keep putting one foot in front of the other. We either go forward or we don’t.