Friday, October 24, 2014
31 Days of Courage: The Courage To Love On In A World Gone Cold
It’s the 24th day of this 31 day challenge, and today’s post is heavy on me.
I took the day off from work today with the sole purpose of withdrawing from the madness for a little while, to seek God for some perplexing questions I have; to slow down and breathe deep and remember why the heck I’m here anyway.
To begin with gratitude is always the way to start. I am a blessed woman. I am more grateful than I can say for the love I have in my life from a thousand corners. My eternal destiny is secure. I have way more than my daily bread. Every hard place and every difficult trial is only sandpaper in the hands of the Master Carpenter, who will show the good work in His good time. So I have no complaints.
But there is a weight. And you and I need courage and strength for this burden, because it continues to grow with no end in sight.
“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:12-13
There’s a fire in the fireplace, pumpkin candles burning and a space to pray and read the sacred word. I’m warm and thankful. But the truth is I’m not so strong when I walk outside to the Arctic chill Jesus saw coming from eternity past. I shiver out there. The world is moving at breakneck speed on the road to nowhere, and people are often downright mean. Uncaring. Cold as ice. When you live in an icy world, it’s oh so easy to protect yourself in layers of fur, and to hunker down and determine not to send an ounce of warmth out to that world to be rejected and snuffed out.
But that is not the way.
Oh courage, be my companion in this internal war to choose to love regardless of the outcome! To feel the cold wind is painful, but to be the cold wind is far worse.
You are sharing this planet today with folks who are so lonely, broken, distressed and angry that they have no capacity to give love. The only hope is that they might receive some, and that the light and warmth of that most beautiful power will begin to thaw the frozen heart. There is no other cure. Love is the remedy for a thoughtless, ungrateful, ugly world.
These words are not flowing from the mind of a woman who has found her way with unconditional love, but from one who longs with every fiber of her being to be willing to humble herself to give it.
When I said good night to a coworker, and they gave the cold shoulder, I determined that was the last time I would feel that little rejection. When I left a small gift on someone’s desk and it was returned without a word, I shut down a little more. When I listened for the hundredth time to a demanding, graceless person wanting someone to blame, and apparently thinking I’d be just as good as anyone else, I hardened myself yet again. When liberal grace was extended to a family member, only to be returned with ingratitude, I was done.
Those things and many more, all of which I’ll bet you have experienced in some way, shape or form brought me home today. I could feel the cold getting into my bones, and I needed some perspective right quick before I hurt myself or someone else badly. And worse still, before I hardened my heart toward my dear heavenly Father, who commands us to be bold and strong, and to fight the ice age with a fire against which no winter can contend.
These extended hours in the Bible, these hours quiet with God have renewed my strength. They have given me the courage to forgive the wrongs done me, to be forgiven for the wrongs done, and to step out again into the tundra, with my little torch.
This problem is not solved. It must be visited over and over again, and there need to be many more times of sitting still with the One who faced the absolute zero of the cold of hell, and remains the Great Lover of all time. He alone can give us the courage to stay warm.
That we might be brave enough to love without reciprocity. That we might stand firm to the end.
And be warm in our hearts for the sake of many.
Your friend on the pilgrim road,