Isn’t that beautiful? That’s from the Phillips translation of the New Testament. I love the Phillips translation. Are you one of those kinds of people who always reads the same Bible? I am. I’m also one of those people who never writes in her Bible I have this fear that if I start underlining things it will put me in a box and I’ll never be open to something new that God is speaking to me. I know it’s a little OCD, but that’s how I am.
Anyways, I am pretty much a solid NKJV person, but every now and then I like to read the Phillips translation. It’s so refreshing. In it Paul’s letters read like beautiful notes between good friends. I get caught up in the story every time and verses like this one kind of stick with me.
“Live your lives in love.”
I’ve been thinking about love lately, maybe because I went to a bridal shower this weekend, I don’t know, but I’ve been thinking a lot about how love is messy and sometimes scary.
Sometimes I think it’s easier to love God than to love people. It’s not difficult to love God or to admit that you need Him. He is perfect and always good. Even though I don’t always agree with or understand Him, I know that in the end He’s always right and His way is always best. But a human? Someone whose love is most certainly selfish and flawed? How can you love that person? How can you admit to the world that you need that person? That is scary.
When I was in Egypt, I read a book called “Hind’s Feet on High Places.” It’s one of those kind of books you read a chapter at a time and kind of chew on. Admittedly, it’s a pretty girly book, but it’s really good and I learned a lot about love from it. One of my favorite quotes is this one:
“To love does mean to put yourself into the power of the loved one and to become very vulnerable to pain, and you are very Much-Afraid of pain, are you not?” She nodded miserably and then said shamefacedly, “Yes, very much afraid of it.” “But it is so happy to love,” said the Shepherd quietly. “It is happy to love even if you are not loved in return. There is pain too, certainly, but Love does not think that very significant.”
In the story, the main character goes from being called Much-Afraid to being called Grace and Glory. I’m not exactly sure where I am in that transition, but hopefully closer to the latter. And that’s the difficult thing about wearing the title “missionary” sometimes. People expect that you’ve got all that down or that you’re tough and brave and independent. And yeah, travelling all over the world alone does tend to make you rather independent and self-reliant, but it certainly doesn’t make you an expert on love.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that deep down that scary feeling of neediness and vulnerability, that I detest and fear so much is exactly what I crave the most, what we all crave, and maybe what the world needs. I mean what if Ruth had never gathered the left-overs from her relative’s field, what if David, after being anointed king, had never served in Saul’s palace, what if God had never become a baby? And whether we wear the title “missionary” or “farmer” or “shepherd” or “Savior” behind the façade we’re all just the same as the rest of the world - we’re all driven by love, love for an individual, love for a people, love for a fallen world. And maybe where it starts is with becoming vulnerable, humble, meek.
“Live your lives in love - the same sort of love which Christ gives us and which he perfectly expressed when he gave himself up for us in sacrifice to God.” – Ephesians 5:2