God has lavished great love on us!
1 John 3:1
In the east, the sun began her slow rise over the horizon. I opened the curtains and saw the front meadow bathed in the pearl-glow of dawn. A dozen songbirds took turns at the feeders as the squirrels below dined on their fallen seeds. Out beyond the hedgerow, the geese honked noisily on the pond. And a family of skunks waddled sleepily across the yard to tuck themselves into bed. I took in the morning’s beauty.
“It feels good to know you created all of this for us,” I whispered to God. “It’s truly incredible, the gifts you have given.”
“I’m pleased that you are pleased,” God said and came and stood by me at the window.
“It’s almost too much to take in. The glorious sunrise. The animals. Life!” I reached out my hand for God’s. He took it and held it gently.
“It is my greatest pleasure to give. I delight in your delight,” God answered softly.
“We don’t deserve any of it, yet you keep giving and giving. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” God answered. We stood at the window for a long time as my heart overflowed with His extravagant love.
Feed my sheep.
A cold wind tapped at my window panes. I got up out of bed and put a fresh log on the embers in the stove. When I turned around, Jesus was sitting on the chair next to my chaise. “Good morning, Sparrow,” He greeted me.
“Why, good morning to you,” I replied, a bit startled. “I wasn’t expecting to you see this morning, Lord.”
“I have something to ask of you,” Jesus said softly, His eyes bright and warm. “I want you to help me carry my cross.”
“But, that was thousands of years ago. And a man named Simon helped you,” I answered.
“Yes. That’s true. But the work of my cross still needs to be continued by sharing God’s love,” He explained.
“Of course, I’ll help,” I said, tears filling my eyes. “How could I not want to help you with that?” I asked.
“You’d be surprised at how many people turn me down,” Jesus said. “They are too trapped in fear to love.”
“Maybe they worry that if they love like You that they will have to give up something.”
“Love is the only way to gain what is most important,” Jesus said.
I looked at the scars on His hands. “You made sure of that for us,” I whispered. I looked into His gentle eyes and said, “Lord, I’ll help you carry Your cross. I’ll help You continue to show us that love is the way to Your Kingdom.”
Jesus smiled, and I settled in on the chaise to enjoy the warmth of the fire and the warmth of His precious heart.
Love your neighbor.
A gentle rain fell as the sun lifted her sleepy head and peeked over the horizon. I curled up on the chaise to write, but instead of thinking about God’s love, I thought of someone who had recently attacked me in a very hostile email. My heart filled with hatred for the sender. “God, who are the neighbors I have to love?” I muttered under my breath. God pulled up a chair and sat down next to me.
“A man asked Jesus that same question,” God said. “Jesus answered by sharing the story about a Jewish man who had been beaten, robbed and left for dead. No one would help him. Even a priest ignored him. But a Samaritan took pity on him and showed him mercy, even though there were hostilities between Jews and Samaritans. He cleaned his wounds and even paid for him to recuperate in a nearby hotel for two months. Jesus told the man that he was to be just like the Good Samaritan. You see, loving your neighbor isn’t so much about who your neighbor is, it’s more about being a good neighbor. To everyone. Jesus wanted to make that point very clear. Be a good neighbor, Sparrow,” God instructed. “Let go of your fear and anger about the email.”
I thought of the person who had written such unkind words to me. “They must be hurting to write such hateful things,” I decided. God reached out and took my hand and gave it a gentle squeeze.
“I’ll do my best to be a good neighbor to all, but I’ll need your help.” I squeezed His hand in return.
“I’ll keep opening your heart to my love,” He promised. We sat there together, holding hands until the sun rose and shared her light with us.
Blessed are the poor in spirit.
Two deer grazed just outside my kitchen window. Now and again, they raised their heads to watch me as I made my morning cup of coffee. I felt connected to them— as if the three of us were blessed to share the moment together. After a while, they moved on and my thoughts turned to the day ahead. I had a long to-do list waiting for me.
“You’ll do better if you empty your cup,” God said as I sat down at my desk.
“But I just made it,” I lifted my mug up for Him to see. “I’ve only had a sip or two.”
“Not that cup. You. Empty yourself,” God said gently. “Empty yourself of your pride. Allow me to fill you— to direct you.”
“Will you help me?” I asked.
“Of course. Be still. Feel me deep within your heart. Let my love guide you as you work today,” He instructed. “Remember, your work isn’t about you. It’s about the people your work serves.”
I thought of the people my work touches—how so many of them are scared and feeling hopeless. I prayed, “Please God, let your love reach through me and touch them.”
“I’ll fill your cup with my love so that it overflows onto everyone you speak with today,” God promised. I looked up from my desk. The two deer had returned. They stood in the meadow, looking at me. I smiled, feeling God’s love fill my heart.
“…invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.”
Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love one another. That commandment superseded any law. When Jesus told us not to invite the rich to the table, but instead invite the poor, crippled, lame, and the blind to dinner, He meant we are to do more than merely feed them a meal. We are to enter into a relationship with them. We are to care for them.
Don’t set the table for only the rich and powerful. That would be in service of your ego. Instead, be of service to God. Set the table for people who are poor, sick or suffering. Give to them without thought of repayment. Give to them the way your Father gives to you: with much abundance and joy. Let us all work towards unity and peace among all people, for love is everyone’s birthright. It is part of everyone’s DNA. It is God.
The greatest is love.
~1 Corinthians 13:13
“I’m making progress, God,” I said and pointed from my bedroom to Mitties, one of the feral cats, curled up on my daybed in the den.
“They are learning to trust you,” God said.
“I wish that they would trust me enough so that they would want to stay inside on these cold nights. If they could just trust that I love them and that I’ll take care of them, they would be better off,” I said.
“You’re preaching to the choir,” God said.
“Oh, of course,” I said.
“Yes, but I’m patient,” God answered. “I keep loving and loving and loving some more.”
“I’m glad that I’m learning to trust your love.”
“I’m glad too, Sparrow.”
“It’s not always easy,” I confessed.
“Please be patient with me when I falter in my faith,” I asked.
“Always, God answered.
“Thank you,” I said and got up and stoked the fire in the potbelly stove. Soon Mitties would wander back out the kitchen door I had left open for him, but until then, I was happy that he is learning to trust me—just as I’m learning to trust God. It’s all about love.