Love Completely // Day 9

The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration but its donation.  — Corrie Ten Boom

When all is said and done, relationships are all that really matter. It doesn’t matter how much money we have, where we live, or how many beautiful toys we’ve collected. None of these can comfort us, console us, cry with us, or love us. Our investment in the people we care about is the only legacy that has the power to endure beyond our lifetime.

God designed us to be in relationship both vertically with Him and horizontally with the people around us. Even though we have a deep desire to connect with our families, friends, and communities, we’ve all experienced some of the messiness of relating to others. Expectations, disappointments, betrayals, hurts, lies, misunderstandings — there are so many obstacles to loving other people and being loved by them. But we were created for relationships, and if we only had one month to left, we would be more concerned about them than ever before.

If you’ve ever lost a loved one, you know how important it is to try to wrap up any unfinished business between you. It can be as simple as expressing how much you love each other or as complicated as discussing the impact of a lifetime of failures and then asking forgiveness. Either way, both of you consider it a priority – rearranging schedules if necessary, traveling great distances, and speaking from your hearts.

If you were the one whose time was short, you would want to connect with those people in your life whom you value most. You would want to give them the gift of time together, to say all that you want to say, and to allow them to know the real you. You would want to leave them with memories, words, and a personal investment that would linger long after you’re gone.

So why don’t we live as if our relationships matter most? Why do we wait until people are dead to give them flowers? It seems ironic that most of us value relationships but don’t expend the energy to invest in them fully. But if we only had one month to live, suddenly we would realize just how much we need other people as well as how much they need us.

Two core truths of human existence can be found in the first book of the Bible. In the story of God’s creation of man and woman, we see that we need more than just ourselves, apparently even more than just our relationship with God. “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” (Genesis 2:18). So God provided Eve to join Adam in the garden. So we’re designed for social and emotional intimacy with those around us, but our desires are polluted by our selfish inclination to make it all about us. Basically these two forces remain in conflict for the duration of our lives. We want to love other people, to be known and enjoyed and loved in return. But people disappoint us, hurt us, and don’t usually respond the way we want them to. So we settle for playing it safe, telling ourselves that we don’t really need them after all, but our hearts tell us otherwise. Mother Teresa said that loneliness is the most terrible poverty. She was right – without love we’re emotionally bankrupt.

Love can’t be bought, but it definitely carries a price, and it’s called sacrifice. Love always means risking pain. Even in the best relationships, there’s a haunting sense of potential loss – if nothing else, the possibility that the other person will die someday, leaving us alone. We love someone, get married, and then discover how painful an all-out intimate relationship can be. Many of you have experienced the incredible grief of losing parents. Children you invested your life in grow up and eventually move away. Our closest friends change jobs and relocate across the country. We don’t stop loving any of these people, but we ached because we can’t be with them and can’t remain connected to them the way we would like. Pain is an inherent part of any significant relationship.

If we’re going to love other people, to endure the heartaches as well as to celebrate the sharing of lives, then we will need a greater love than our own. We need to experience the fullness of God’s love for us in order to die to our selfish desires and give freely to others. We have to look to God first. As much as we’re made to need others, people can never fill our ache to be loved the way God can. He demonstrated His love in a way that forever changed history and continues to change countless lives today.

The greatest sacrifice of love in history occurred in Christ’s death on the cross. God allowed His only Son to become mortal – Word made flesh – and then to endure the most excruciatingly painful and publicly humiliating death possible: crucifixion. God’s love for us is truly incomprehensible. Our love has limits, but God’s love has none. It’s completely unconditional, no strings attached.

My prayer for you is the same as the one Paul expressed in his letter to the church at Ephesus: “And I pray that you, firmly fixed in love yourselves, may be able to grasp… how wide and deep and long and high is the love of Christ – and to know for yourselves that love so far beyond comprehension.” (Ephesians 3:17-19 Phillips).

Your problem is not that you don’t love God enough. It’s that you don’t understand how much He loves you. If you could grasp just a little bit of how much God loves you, you’d surrender all areas of your life to Him. With His love as your foundation, you can discover a new power in the way you relate to others. You can be free to be yourself, not looking to them for validation, approval, or permission. At the same time, you will relieve them from the pressure of having to mean more to you than is humanly possible. If you cut through the busyness and blurred priorities and absorb the fact that your remaining time on earth is limited, you can experience more intimacy in your life than ever before.

Personal Challenge

1. Make a list of the people you would want to see and to share your heart with if you knew your time on earth was limited to one more month. What specific steps would you take to connect with one of them and share your heart?

2. Choose someone you know you have hurt by your words, actions, or silence. Call them and ask forgiveness explaining everything you’d like to say before it’s too late.

3. Think through your schedule for the next day or two. No matter how busy you may be, find a time to surprise someone you love. Take a friend to a favorite restaurant. Pick up the kids early from school and go to the park. Kidnap your spouse from the office and go out for coffee. Find a way to add quality connections to your life on a daily basis.

  • Ursula Marrero

    I love that knowing Gods love frees me to be me, others validations not required. I want to challenge myself to seek out, understand and remember daily how much God loves me.

  • http://Www.thesecondhalf-Michelle.blogspot.com Michelle welch

    Once I stopped trying to get God to love me, I was able to be the daughter, mom, friend that He wanted me to be. Once I realized that He loved me unconditionally, I was free to forgive myself and thus forgive others.

  • Shivana Khoza

    Today is a particularly challenging one for me… I have been praying for a specific issue we are facing, and I am struggling to see God’s way through it… I am praying for His guidance and for His will to be done, but I am not seeing it… I feel the loneliness, the helplessness, and the hopelessness of all of this descending on me like a ton of bricks too heavy for my weak will to fight… I am tired… And then I read this and I am reminded that God loves me, even in all of this… God, I do not understand your love, I do not understand your timing, I often do not hear your voice or see your direction… But I know that You do love me, and that You have given Your Son as the ultimate sacrifice so that I can have salvation to be with You. Thank You for loving me. Knowing this, please help me to surrender everything to You, and just trust You…

  • Ashley

    Hello, My name is Ashley McMasters, I wanted to email you and ask for a little bit of you and the communities help. Let me give you a little story of what’s happened, I have a friend Jason Ledbetter he is 24 years old and has two children ages 3 & 1, Jason was diagnosed with Lymphomatic Leukemia two weeks ago. He was able to get out of the hospital for a few hours on Sunday to attend his sons first brithday party, then went back in Sunday night and started his chemo. He obviously is not able to work right now, and is in the middle of a divorce ( his wife cheated on him for 6 years )so he has absolutely no income coming in, he has a mortgage, truck note, and of course the expenses for his children. His mother has been helping all she can, as well as all of us friends but we all have families and unfortunately not able to help as much as we want to. My reason for messaging you is from the bottom of my heart to ask you and the your church community for help. I’d like to ask you to help me put something together for Jasons family, his mom is paying for everything out of pocket right now and I’m hoping to find someone willing to help me get something together to help Jason and his mom out. His mother is Julie Ledbetter, we’d like for anything that we can get together and all proceeds in his mothers name so that Jason’s soon to be ex wife doesn’t fight for part of the money ( because she is just that horrible of a person ) Unfortunately, his family is not able to afford their everyday expenses as well as Jasons. Since he is currently at MD anderson hospital, undergoing chemo, he is not able to work and will not be able to go back to doing what he has done for many years once he is done with chemo. There is absolutely no money for Jason coming in, we ask for you and the communities help to help us get some benefit together for Jason Ledbetter, so we can take the stress of bills, food, children expenses away and let him focus of healing.
    Please help us out
    you can contact me via email @ momof2kids@gmail.com,
    if anyone has any suggestions or ideas or know any companies who would be willing to donate money for Jason. Please let us know.
    thank you
    Ashley McMasters

  • Debra Swartz Minier

    This is a message that touches my heart, and I’m sure many others. I’m thankful to have your posts on my facebook feed. I know of your church only because I follow my family. Steve Helm (Missions Pastor) is married to my sister Julie. I thoroughly enjoyed last Sunday’s service that I watched online. The ‘LEGACY’ message was powerful and beautiful. Thank you! I will tune in as often as I can. Blessings!

  • Ashley

    My apologies, momof2kids07@gmail.com