Monday, July 11, 2016

1st John 4:19

Many years ago my daughter Shannon left home for the first time.  At only eighteen years old, she had never been far away from us.  Now she was flying nearly 3,000 miles to a christian college located somewhere in "the boondocks", a place I thought at that time only God knew existed.

We took her to a family friend's house who was going to fly with her.  I'll never forget the twisting pain in my stomach or the excruciating ache in my jaws from desperately trying to stifle my wrenching sadness at having to leave her and drive away.   I knew my husband and other twin daughter, Kelly, were feeling the same as I was, and what Shannon was feeling, I couldn't even imagine.

I had written this prayer in the front of Shannon's bible.  It was simple, but powerful. It said, "When you were small I used to cover you with a soft blanket to keep you from the cold. Now that you are grown and sometimes out of reach, I cover you with prayer".  

Four years and many prayers later found us booking three flights for her graduation.  God had not only seen her through, but he protected and provided in ways "exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ask or think".  Somewhere along that four year journey I realized, by Holy Spirit revelation, that our Heavenly Father loved Shannon long before I ever knew her, (Jeremiah 1:5) and therefore, He was trustworthy to take care of her.  She was his.

A couple of years into her college experience Shannon started talking about another young student. His name was Cesar and he was from Colombia, South America.  She would tell us all about his antics and we'd laugh with her.  Eventually I asked her, "Shannon, are you in love with Cesar"? "NO WAY", Shannon exclaimed.  "He's not my type"!

(They've been married 15 years now.)

Six months before Shannon's graduation the Holy Spirit spoke to me.  Not audibly, but he revealed to me that Cesar was going to be my son in-law.  (It's important that you understand that at this point even Shannon and Cesar didn't know this yet!)  I told my husband what the Lord had shown me and we began to pray for Cesar as our son in-law.  We never told another living soul.  I found out later that soon after Shannon and Cesar began to have feelings for each other and got brave enough to admit it, one to the other.

Here's my point.  After praying and viewing Cesar as my son in-law, when I met him six months later I was as comfortable and at home with him as could be.  I didn't feel even a speck of awkwardness as he drove me around the college or our family sat with him and visited. Looking back on it now, it must have appeared strange to some that our family flew in for Shannon's graduation and Cesar just kind of automatically became a part of our family while we were there. Everything we did and everywhere we went included him!  As far as others were concerned Cesar was supposed to be a stranger to us.  But the truth is we had grown to love him deeply through those months of praying and embracing the truth that he would be our son.  And Cesar began to love us.  You see, Cesar loved us because we first loved him.  (1 John 4:19)  He felt our love for him and could see it clearly as we demonstrated it.  We would have given our lives for him, just like we would have for any one of our children. God gave us a son and we love him.

Matthew 7:11 says, "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" 

Can you fathom the vastness of the love our Heavenly Father has for you?  Are you aware that you love him because he first loved you?  That if he didn't love you first and demonstrate that love by sending his son Jesus to die on a cross for you, that you would not love him?

It was perfectly understandable to Jim and me that Cesar needed time to grow in his love for us.  He didn't know us yet.  But we, because we first loved him, already knew him, already loved him, already excepted and embraced him.  It made it that much easier and quicker for Cesar to love us in return.

When we stop long enough to really think about that from our Heavenly Father's point of view we begin to understand better about the true agape love spoken of in 1 Corinthians 13.  Love really is patient and kind.  It really doesn't envy or boast.  It is not proud, nor does it dishonor others.  It is not self-seeking or easily angered.  It keeps no record of wrongs.  Love really does not delight in evil, and it really does rejoice with the truth.  It always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres.  It's true. Love never fails.

When we understand that God loved us first, before we were even formed in our mother's womb, then we can love him.

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