I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:26, NAS95) You could say that I operate at a very slow speed. Or maybe my interior held too much chaos so that it took a very long time for this to compute. I didn’t understand what love means, both literally, and in practice. My mind and heart wrestled long and hard over this. I did not quite get the full gist of love’s meaning early in my journey with Jesus. That does not mean Jesus hasn’t worked to lead me there through my experience with Him. I could say love got confused growing up in an alcoholic home, but I can’t shift blame to my family on this one. God slowly but surely dismantled what I thought love is and transformed it into what He is. Did you catch that? He moved me from discovering the definition of love to discerning He defines love. I had never thought of that. And this idea crept up via prayer, struggle, and gift. The prayer and struggle come from me never getting it totally correct — that is, an adequate working idea of love that provided a trustworthy pathway for life, especially for my most intimate relationships (wife, family). I can’t tell you how much struggle, pain and heartache went into that process. Then it hit, the gift — it has consumed me now for a few years — God defines love; love does not define God. As that conversation developed, God showed me that my definition of love always contained a self-centered piece. I could never love another for their benefit with no thought of self (or benefit to self). Shocking, I know, but true. I know I can’t love unless I know God through Jesus, and I mean know Him by experience in my life as really real. So, communion with Him deepened. God showed me not only that He is love, but it is only in abiding in His love that I can love. In that space of abiding in His love, I can let go of my self-centeredness and enter the comfort of His embrace in all my interactions. Consistently abiding remains an issue, but desiring God brings me back. I may be slow, but the journey of this conversation with God about love, His-kind-of-love, draws me into awe. Paul does not exaggerate when he says, “the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge.” Slow, maybe. Glad, definitely! Warmly in Christ, Doug Mitts
“O LORD, I love the habitation of Your house and the place where Your glory dwells.” (Psalm 26:8. NAS95)
What practices help you cultivate abiding in God’s love?
What memories in your experience do you carry of God’s love? What might God want to say to you through those memories?