Connect with us

Articles

The Face of Love

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

There once lived a man whose name, earthly speaking, was Jesus.

Spiritually speaking, His name was Love.

Long ago, in the darkness of a distant age, Love looked far into the future. He went to His Father and said, "There is no other way. I will go to them. I will become one of them, and I will die for them."

In that time, before the foundations of the earth, Love was slain because of us.

Many years later, when His now-human feet felt the pull of gravity and walked on hot Israeli sand, He said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

He knew what He was talking about. In spirit He had made the sacrifice long ago. In body He now came to carry it out on earth, and He did. He allowed Himself to be delivered into the cruel hands of men and sacrificed. Even now His sacrifice stands accepted in the heavenlies, and we have only to make it our own in order to receive forgiveness and righteousness.

To us He left His Spirit, that we might live out His law and His legacy of love.

"This is my commandment, that ye love one another."

"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if you have love one for another."

"Love your neighbour as yourself…"

"Love your enemies, and do good to them that persecute you…"

"Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength."

There are things we must understand about love if we want to follow His footsteps. For one thing, it is not the heady infatuation the world thinks it is. Love is deliberate. It is a choice. True, sometimes the choice is easy to make. A pair of beautiful eyes can coax us into it. A child’s laughter sometimes causes our heart to overflow with it. A mother’s careworn hands inspire it.

At other times, only the Spirit of God can bring it forth. Take Jesus’ command to love our enemies, for example. No one ever "fell" in love with their persecutor. Jesus wasn’t infatuated with the men whose hypocrisy and self-protection sent Him to the cross. His thoughts toward them were less than flowery—"Nest of vipers. White-washed tombs. Den of thieves"—such words are not the stuff of poetry and love letters. Yet He chose to love them. He prayed for their forgiveness on the cross.

Richard Wurmbrand, who endured fourteen years in prison in Communist Rumania, wrote of the choice Jesus made that day, to love His enemies actively and wholly:

When Jesus was on the cross, darkness fell upon Him and on the countryside. Soon an earthquake was to follow. Jesus knew what was about to befall mankind because of His crucifixion. He saw in the darkness and the earthquake signs of God’s judgment similar to what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah, and through His prayer He aborted the wrath of God. In that convulsion He became a lightning rod for us. God’s wrath struck Him, and we the guilty were saved—all because He prayed.

That prayer was a deliberate choice to love His enemies. It was an expression of the love that carried Him to the cross in the first place—the love that was His nature, His whole soul.

Not only is love deliberate, it is active. When Jesus told us to love our enemies, He also gave us instructions on how to do so:

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you,and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)

Love is not a passive feeling over which we have no control. Love is action and choice. At times everything in us will stand behind the choice. At other times, our whole being will cry out against it. Yet obedience demands that we love no matter how hard or how easy the task. Love is the whole business of our lives as Christians.

What does love look like, practically speaking? It looks like Jesus. It looks like His work. Isaiah 58 beautifully describes a life that is given over to the business of love:

Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out into thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy reward.

I have seen this kind of love in action before. I believe in God as I do because I know that His love is working in the world. I have been the hungry one who was fed by His people because they loved; the one who was clothed because they loved; the one who was given a roof over my head because they loved.

What does love look like?

It looks like a hug given to a difficult person because they are lonely and they need it.

It looks like the faithfulness of a mother who gives her life to husband and children.

It looks like laughter when things are going wrong.

It looks like unceasing prayer; for family, and for friends, and for missionaries, and for the lost, and for the hated, and for the outcasts, and for the prisoners, and for the enemy.

It looks like a drink of water to a thirsty man.

It looks like a loaf of bread to a starving child.

It looks like sacrifice.

It looks like hard work.

It looks like patience.

It looks like kindness.

It looks like humility.

It looks like Jesus.

We fear love, as we fear all things that are truly holy and heavenly. We fear it because it makes us vulnerable. It leaves us open to hurt. Of course it does. Isn’t the Christian life about trusting God with all whole lives? Isn’t it about tearing down our hardened walls and letting Him be our protector and judge? When we cease trying to protect ourselves and begin instead to give of ourselves, then we are beginning to walk the path of love.

Love recognizes that it needs others. In God’s Kingdom there is no such thing as a lone wolf. God’s great desire for us is that we might become one—and it is through our union, through our love, that the world will know that we are His. It is through our love that they will believe that our Lord lives and is in us.

Says George MacDonald, “We wrong those near us in being independent of them. God himself would not be happy without his Son. We ought to lean on each other, giving and receiving—not as weaklings but as lovers.”

The world needs lovers now as never before. Jesus Himself prophesied that in the iniquitous last days, the love of many would wax cold (Matthew 24:12). It is for us to keep love strong. It is for us to minister to the hungry, the cold, the outcast, and the lonely. It is for us to minister to our Lord by keeping the cords of love strong in His body.

The Wailing Aztecs, a Canadian folk band, once recorded a song which stated, “We don’t need another love song. All we need is love.”

It is up to us to write a love song with our lives. We cannot do it on our own power—the world is a place of hate and of selfishness, and it will always do its best to beat us down—but the Spirit of Love lives in us.

What does love like?

To the world, it looks like you.

Copyright © 2003 Rachel Starr Thomson. All rights reserved. Excerpted from "Letters to a Samuel Generation: The Collection." Reprinted with permission.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

Rachel Starr Thomson is the author of Heart to Heart: Meeting With God in the Lord's Prayer, Letters to a Samuel Generation: The Collection, and the fantasy epic Worlds Unseen. She lives with her family of fourteen in southern Ontario where she reads, studies, writes, worships, and drinks tea. Visit her online at www.littledozen.com.

Click to comment

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone
Continue Reading

Articles

Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone
Continue Reading

Articles

He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone
Continue Reading

Become An Insider!

Enter your email address below to stay in the loop on the latest from Ungrind.

Welcome to Ungrind!



Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

As you read, we hope you consider us friends, the kind you feel comfortable sitting across the table with at the local coffee shop. You can read more about me HERE and our team of writers HERE.

Latest Articles

What Women Are Saying

"The women who contribute to Ungrind are full of wisdom and heart. With stunning images, thoughtful writing, and a simple layout, this is a lovely place to visit and breathe deep."

-- Emily P. Freeman, author of Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life
COL_TeamUs_BannerAd

Five-Minute-Friday---4

familydevotional

Disclosure

We are a member of the Amazon affiliate program and regularly use affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an Amazon link we provide, we will receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. We only share books, music, and products that our writers personally have used and highly recommend.

Trending

The Face of Love

by Rachel Starr Thomson time to read: 6 min
0