Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love Never Fails

Valentine’s Day. A day of high expectations for many. A day of joy for some, disappointment or sadness for others.

I don’t even know where to start. This day has been full of surprises already, and it’s still early. Focus may not be one of my strong suits today.

My number one most favoritest passage of scripture ever, 1 Corinthians 13 … we’re gonna go with The Message version, i.e. the groovy translation of the bible … let’s just read the whole chapter …

13 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
8-10 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

11 When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

12 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

God reminds me of that phrase in verse 8, more traditionally translated as, “Love never fails,” all the time. When I read through the first part of the chapter, I always feel like it’s building and by the time I get to verse 8 I want to be jumping up and down for joy and yelling, “Love never fails!”

The last year or so for me really has been all about “love never fails”.

When I want to give up, love never fails.

When I don’t feel like stepping out on faith but somehow do it anyway, love never fails.

When negativity or negative circumstances attempt to mess with my Zen, love never fails.

When that dude with the horns and pitchfork just needs to get thee behind me, love never fails.

When I’m tempted to make things all about me, love never fails.

When I don’t want to believe the promises God has made me, love never fails.

When I want to rush the timing of God’s plan, love is patient, and it never fails.

Love rocks.

So on this Valentine’s Day, much love to you all. It never ever fails.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Y’all Are Nuts. Maybe.

People’s stories are amazing.

Have you ever taken a moment to reflect on your own story? On how far you’ve come? On what a long, strange trip it’s been?

I met up with a friend last week who I hadn’t seen in probably a couple of years. As he recounted quite the spiritual journey, what I assumed would be a two hour lunch turned into a crazy three-and-a-half hour story. Wow. I really don’t know how to summarize it all other than … wow, wow, wow.

God never ceases to amaze me, but then that’s kind of his thing.

Someone reminded me today that, “you know, people are crazy, right?” Yep. I experience it every single day. The stories people tell me sometimes make sense, and then other times … not so much.

And the last couple of weeks I have grown my appreciation, and I suppose patience, for those who deal with serious anxiety issues in particular. I’m not talking everyday run-of-the-mill stress that takes its toll on your body and indeed is bad. I mean interferes-with-your-life and may even require medication kind of anxiety.

How many of you are out there? Wow. OK, maybe God was just parading them through my life all at once to send me a message. And, no, you-all don’t have to raise your hand and draw attention to yourselves.

A quick aside …

I was at a thing the other night meeting some new people, and one guy apologized in case he was distracting earlier because he “just has this large booming voice”. I told him, “Not at all. And I completely understand. I have a talent for attracting attention. It’s what I do.” I’m pretty sure the vehement agreement and “oh, you have no idea” from the peanut gallery were not actually out loud, just in that voice only I can hear sometimes.

OK, back to our regularly scheduled discussion …

Stress and anxiety seem to run rampant in our society. We wear stress and busy lifestyles as a badge of honor. A sensationalistic media prods us to thrive on drama. How we deal with stress is partly personal choice – to an extent you can train yourself to react to certain things differently, you can make choices that take you away from certain stressors in your life, you can choose to pray about it.

And then I think a large part is just how God wired us. Free will rules, but you have to work with what you’ve been given. Some of us have more to overcome than others, I guess. And that’s not always apparent to the outside world.

So do stressed out and anxiety-ridden equate to crazy? Not necessarily. And crazy might just be a relative term.

Have a sane(ish) week, everyone.