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And now, Dear Lady…

Today is Leap Day and I find myself leaping back into a journal entry from mid summer 2023 when God was cracking me open and exposing some icky stuff in my operating system that needed addressing.

I was spending time every day reading the Bible and praying and writing copious notes on what I was hearing and was resonating in me.  The desire of my heart was to love God more, better… to love God well.  One particular day I was reading in 1 John 5.  Verse 3 says “This is love for God:  To obey his commands”.  I remember my eyes moving over to the next page where I had underlined some things from 2 John 1.  Verse 5 says “…It’s not a new command, but the one we have had from the beginning… that we love one another. And this is love:  that we walk in obedience to his command”.

Struck by the circular nature of these statements I decided to draw myself a little diagram.  What is love? >>> Obey his command.  >>> What is his command? >>> Love one another >>> and it circles around again... and again, just to make itself clear.

And I had to ask myself if in my desire to love God better, was I following this simple command to obey and love others well.  The answer was not pleasing to me!  The answer was “nope”.  All my time reading and praying and writing had me well versed “in” love but I realized I was not walking “out” love well at all.  The icky stuff that got exposed were all the ways I was self oriented, self focused…the ways I was trying to self protect and create my own peace.  All the things I was reading and learning about weren’t being put into practice.

My journaling in the months prior were explorations on why I felt so overwhelmed and undergunned in dealing with life and its challenges and people.

That simple, circular verbal diagram broke it down for me.

Back to 2 John 1… The God of heaven is wonderous in many-a-way, and one of those ways that I really enjoy is his sense of humor.  That day last summer when he was pointing out some major flaws that were very convicting and difficult for me to honestly address, through his humor he demonstrated his tenderness and his gentle ways toward me.  As he was driving his point home about what love really is and where I needed a course correction, I heard his voice with a subtle chuckle…. I could hear the twinkle in his eye and he said (verse 5) ‘And now, "Dear Lady”… this isn’t something new to you.  It’s what I’ve always said, all along…I’ve asked that we love one another.  And, to make it clear again because you’ve convoluted things and made it all way too complex…. This is love:  Obey my command.  And incase you’ve forgotten my command, it is that you love one another.   Walk In Love’.  …”Dear Ladyyyy”.

To walk “in” love IS to walk “out” love.  It is not a feeling or an emotion or something that just comes upon us or happens.  Love is an action word and a decision.  It is a heart decision (in) that is brought out into the world through the way we live.  Living that love out is what actually “lets his kingdom come on earth in the same way it is in heaven”.

Another thing I appreciate about God’s many-a-wonderous ways is that he never asks us to do something without telling us or demonstrating for us how to do it or what it is to look like.  1 Corinthians 13 walks us through exactly what loving others consists of.  I add my own flourishes and embellishments as I read through the description.

Be patient.  Slow your roll and observe more.   Be kind and not a jerk.  Don’t be envious of others.  In fact, you don’t need to boast about yourself.  Instead, celebrate the successes and victories of others.  Be humble, not proud.  Humility actually demonstrates way more strength and honor than pride ever can.  Don’t be rude, crass or sarcastic.  That’s gross and unbecoming.  Be Self-Less.  Not Self-More about anything;  Not self focused, self oriented, self promoting, self protecting or self serving.  Don’t fall quickly or easily into offense and anger.  Don’t hold grudges and keep a tally of the wrongs of others or even of yourself.  Entertain your mind and thoughts with what is good and true, beautiful and uplifting not on what is evil, negative or downgrading.  Let your thoughts, words and actions be protective of others and not be harmful in any way.  Be trustworthy and trusting.  Always remain hopeful, about everything.  …and Never, ever give up in doing what is right and good.  If you falter and flub it up, get back up and try again.

This is how we love God.  This is his command. This is how we love others.

1 John 5:3 continues “And his commands are not burdensome”. …Burdensome.  That word is a picture of something that is a weight to carry.  It’s heavy and weighs you down.  It’s tiresome.  It takes away from you and leaves you with less;  less energy and less joy.

The word chosen there is "burdensome".  The verse does not say that walking in and walking out love won’t be challenging, at times downright difficult.  Being patient and kind with some people is almost impossible!  It goes against human nature to not be triggered and miffed, yea, even pissed off sometimes.  Our natural response is to be self serving and self protective, almost reflexively.  That’s why love has to be a decision and not just based on how we feel.

But, the decision to love others well, though difficult and not necessarily natural at times, will not be a heavy burden.  Love lifts and elevates the giver and the receiver.  Love lightens loads.  It sets free.  Love covers a great multitude of bad stuff and makes Right things that have been done and said that have caused pain.

And Love leads.

Love doesn’t wait for someone else to make the first move, or take the first step, or take the higher road or forgive first.  Nope.  “Because Christ first loved us” we are called to “go and do likewise”;  to lead in love like he did.

I’m thankful today for the opportunity to Leap back and be reminded of how to love God by loving others well.

And now, Dear Ladyyyy…. Go walk in love.

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