????????????????????????????????????As disillusioned as I have been at times in my life, particularly considering past church experience (which ironically has not affected my love for God at all), one fact remains: I love people.

Not just people who are nice, or people I know, or even people I know well. I just love people in general.

I look into their faces as they walk by, and I see the insecurity in their eyes, the nervousness in their smiles, the shyness and the bubbles beneath the surface and the singular commonality of a deep longing to be accepted.

I want to tell each one of them that God loves them. And that I do, too, as crazy as that sounds. Sometimes I wonder what someone would do or say if I just showed up and blurted out, “Hey, you know what? God loves you, and so do I.”

I have to say, that actually sounds a little bit creepy. Or at least contrived or rehearsed or something. There is a triteness inherent in so much that is said and done in Jesus’ name any more, and that tends to make people want to turn and run. How do I get away from that but still remain true to the message that God does love people, and that because of His very real presence in my life, I do, too?

The last thing I want to do is turn people off, make them want to avoid anything to do with Jesus. The thing is, He is so much more than the bumbling efforts and hollow words of His followers. How do I live His light in this frail form with my awkward wordings, my try-and-fail day after day. Who would be wooed in any direction by someone so ordinary?

And yet I keep on loving, even in my limited capacity, with all the hurts I carry and hard life lessons I’ve learned. I push them aside, stifle the cynic within and reach out one more time. It isn’t about me.

Love is the important thing, and another’s capacity for receiving love doesn’t determine my extension of it because I didn’t create it. God loved me first, so I love Him in return and He asks that I love His people even when they don’t deserve it because I don’t deserve it, either.

He loves, then we love. It can involve risk, but it is always right. There’s a light that goes on in the loved one’s eyes, and even though God may be the only one who sees it, we can know we are doing what we were created to do. When we dare to love, we extend His heart.

And you, my friend? What are the barriers to your reaching out with His love? What are you willing to risk to love in His name?

 

 

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Featured at Write Where It Hurts

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