This post hit me square and moved me surely. Many of my friends and family know that my dad is currently battling stage four brain cancer and that the name of our fundraising team (Angels Among Us 5K to raise funds for research at the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University) is: TEAM JIM – “…one foot in front of the other…” The quote is philosophy on this journey. It has translated into my own growing love of running as I better my health and strengthen my determination for the sake of him, my wife, and my kids. But, after reading this post, I shall pray that all my runs and my work be dedicated to others. I found this blog through the blog author’s association with my favorite author Brennan Manning and I will certainly be continuing to follow its new posts.
Love becomes more than a stretched-thin combination of vowels and consonants when it is treated as a verb and lived out. I can tell my wife that I love her, but, it means a lot more to her when I make it a point to spend time with her in the evening instead of sitting in another room squandering my time away on the computer. Likewise, singing the Beatles song “All You Need Is Love,” while being a fine and enjoyable thing to do, is wholly insignificant compared to taking advantage of the daily opportunities that we all have to affirm and support somebody else through a kind word, an open ear, or a lent hand.
God defines Love as sacrifice for others. Sacrifice means putting the needs of others before our own.
What do you love? Who do you love? Whose needs do you place before your own? Who are you willing to die for? Family? Friends? Neighbors?
Who is your neighbor?
Above all of the politics, theology, denominations, and technicalities is the demand by Jesus that we love God with all our beings and that we love others as we love ourselves. We won’t know God truly until we are bent backward in service to others as in a way that denies our own existence. I, for one, have plenty of room for growth in that regard.
From the July 15 entry of Brennan Manning’s Reflections for Ragamuffins: Daily Devotions
Peter writes in his first letter: “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s almighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:5b-6).
These words are both frightening and consoling. God resists, refuses, rejects the proud. But he delivers himself up, he gives himself totally to the humble and the little. Not only does he not resist them, but he cannot refuse them anything. The story of the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:21-28 is a shinging example. “Yes, Lord,” she said to Jesus when he pointed out that his mission was to Israel alone, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the masters’ table.” She humbled herself, and Jesus exalted her. “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.”
Jesus couldn’t resis the humility of this foreign woman, of the good thief, of Mary Magdalene.
“A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.” Proverbs 29:23
This reading reveals a characteristic of Jesus which, in my opinion, is profoundly beautiful and right. I often get caught up in the idea that something that I do or don’t do can either bring me closer to or push me further from God. His Love is infinite and his wisdom omniscient. All that we can do is come to him in utter humility, admit our powerlessness, and allow him to infuse us with His power so that we can live in faith, soaked in grace, and let our lives more resemble Him. This is life lived more abundantly.
The past still haunts me from time to time
My eyes drift away from His gaze
I feel my legs sinking below the surface
But, He went to such lengths to forgive
Here I stand too desensitized to notice
The me that catches my own backward glance
Is not the self that wrestles today
Lord God Almighty Christ
Infuse my muscles with enough holy power
To kick free from this wheezing demon
And dash forward carried by the fire of grace
Grant me the faith to not look back
But to love forward
Hard bent will
Let His grace spill
The beauty of God is the grace of God. The splendor of life as a follower of Christ is the utter humility that Jesus has called us to live in. To sacrifice personal gratification in favor of truth in giving is favorable to He who gave all for us. To do so when nobody is watching is to live as Jesus called us to. It is a perspective that runs counter to the predominant sentiment of our culture. While the reality of our self-centered nature often wins out over the ideal of putting first what is right and good, it is an ideal that is reflective of His character and an ideal that, by His grace, we are able to meet through Him.