#6 One True Love

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So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.

– Genesis 19:20

It may be far-fetched, but the fanciful thought that “one true love” exists for each of us is certainly appealing. Television, movies, and anime tell us that perhaps there is such a thing, and in our heart of hearts, we may believe it, too.

We all desire a fulfilling love. Some of us know this inclination intimately, as our thoughts and actions frequently stray toward seeking affection. Others may already have devoted support and not even comprehend that they’ll feel incomplete if they lost such affection.

We are designed to love – to give it and to receive it. Our relationships, imperfect as they are, demonstrate as much. They also suggest something splendid: although the love we experience is faulty, a perfect, pure, and never-failing love lies in wait for us.  It’s all ours – we only need surrender to it.

Pray | Ask to experience God’s love, either more fully, if you’re a believer, or in some shape or manner, if you are not

Read | Meditate on these verses this week: John 15:9-17Matthew 6:24 / 1 John 3:18 / Proverbs 17:17 / Psalms 63:3

Act | Reflect on the role that the desire for love plays in your life, and how that relates to your relationship with God

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#5 Break Up

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But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

– Romans 5:8

Break-ups can be devastating. They take time and support to get through, and in all honesty, there are some relationships we never get over.

And as with grieving, we might pass through emotional stages after a split, including guilt.  Why did she dump me?  What did I do?  What’s wrong with me?

Those feelings speak to something dreadfully honest within us – that we feel something is wrong.  Our exes, who knew us as well as anyone, saw into our very hearts, and they ran away.

There’s someone else, too, that sees our hearts – that knows them better than any boyfriend, better than we even know our own hearts.  He sees all of our faults, insecurities, and selfishness, and still speaks this to us: “I’m never leaving you.”

This the one to whom we can always turn – who will never leave or “break up” with us. There’s no better lover.

Pray | Ask God to reveal his forgiving and loving character to you

Read | Meditate on these verses this week: Jeremiah 17:9 / Romans 5:6-8 / Jeremiah 7:21-26 / Romans 5:20-21 / Ephesians 2:8-9

Act | Purposely reach out to someone who may have hurt you, understanding that you, too, own many faults

#4 Fiery Passion

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Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

– Hebrews 12:28-29

I have a burning desire for herThere’s a real spark between usHe’s so hot.  Words related to heat seem to perfectly describe the passion of relationships. What other concept can better relate the way two people feel when they are on fire for each other?  Imagine a love so intense that everything seems to burn up in their flames for one another.

As good as these feelings are, they’re mainly superficial, dealing with the laws of attraction and chemistry.  But what if there was intense fire in a relationship that was more than skin deep, that seared our very souls?

When we respond to grace, opening the doors for relationship, we find that God doesn’t walk in meekly.  He arrives in full force, a fire so hot that it burns us to a crisp – it eats away our pains, ills, sin, and guilt.  It carbonizes our old selves, and out of those ashes rises someone reinvented, someone sublime.  From the heat of this perfect love, we discover this – we’ve become someone more lovely than we ever thought we could be.

Pray | Ask God to “burn you up” with a desire for him, or if you don’t feel a need for such passion, instead ask God to show you what it is he wants out of your relationship with him

Read | Meditate on these verses this week: 1 Peter 1:3-9 / Job 23:10 / Ezekiel 18:31 / 2 Corinthians 5:17 / Zechariah 13:9

Act | Develop a list of those things in you that you would like to change and spend time reflecting both on why you haven’t changed and how you might approach changes in these areas

#3 Free from Fear

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There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

– 1 John 4:18

Fire and brimstone – scorching language used as fear mongering tools for so long by preachers to instill fear into people’s hearts, driving them toward a religion twisted by guilt. Today, we’ve mostly left the hotbed of angry, condemning religion, but for many fear and guilt remain, whether as whispers of smoke in our souls, burned there from a dispirited youth in the church, or soldered into our hearts through experiences that have left us burned.

But what if true religion isn’t about shame and fright? What if it speaks something quite the opposite to us – that we are free from all that which weighs us down?

The world can be frightening. Depression, loneliness, judgment, violence – all these can invade our lives and make the very act of living difficult, impossible even. But in this, there is always hope, in the arms of one who has been there and suffered it all for our sake, and in whose perfect love there is no fear.

Pray | Come to God about those things that haunt you – the specters of abuse, neglect or anything else – and ask him to help you depend on his love in overcoming the pain

Read | Meditate on these verses this week: 1 John 1:5 / 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 / Psalms 23:4 / Deuteronomy 31:6 / Isaiah 41:10

Act | Accept your flaws and imperfections, making a step toward accepting forgiveness and mercy from a loving God