Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Love Overflows

Today's reflection on the Daily Texts:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed. - Lamentations 3:22 (NIV)

The grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. - 1 Timothy 1:14

Two-year reading texts: Psalm 140:1-5; 2 Kings 5:15-6:23; Acts 1:15-26

I've missed a week of posting here, and a number of other things, as I've been feeling wiped out and worthless with a cold and with stress. I felt myself starting to come out of it yesterday, and felt a connection with one of yesterday's texts, from 1 Kings 18:21: "Elijah said, 'How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.'" I don't think I got as far as worshiping idols, but after a week or so of feeling run down, tired, and lethargic, I was aware of the unhealthy direction things were going. Less sleep leads to less energy leads to less exercise leads to less self-care leads to feeling down leads to being unmotivated leads to things not getting done leads to more stress leads to less sleep, and so on. It doesn't take long for a negative trend to take root and grow.

Yesterday, I received Elijah's challenging words as a gift of grace. "Are you going to let that negative spirit run your life? Or will you wake up and draw strength from God's Spirit?" I think we receive invitations like this, all the time, to recognize that God is at work, that God's strength can get us out of situations we might get stuck in otherwise, and that God will always let us "come back" and get back on God's track. Yesterday I felt like I was turning that corner.

Today's scriptures reinforce that feeling, with a focus on God's love that saves us, and a psalm and stories in 2 Kings and Acts that identify some times of trouble and some ways that God intervenes for people in need. Love is a powerful force that seeks the best for the beloved. Love is willing to go into unpleasant, undesirable situations and walk the beloved out of there. Love watches, waits, reaches, calls, persists, connects, enlightens, energizes. Love transforms. Love saves.

In the words of 1 Timothy: Love overflows. Love occupies whatever container we think represents our lives, and fills it, pushing out other forces that may be toxic to us. Love is an unbounded, flowing source of life that keeps going until its work is complete. Love knows our own hearts and provides what we need (Acts 1:24). Love surrounds harmful forces with its overwhelming power, whether we can see it or not (2 Kings 6:16). Even when we bring the harmful forces on ourselves, there is no end to God's love (Lamentations 3:22).

My week has been a very small taste of negativity. But it reminds me of the real power of the things that sidetrack us and drag us down. The answer is God's overflowing love. I'm grateful for it in my own life, and I pray that I've had my eyes opened a little more to how important it is to share God's love and direct others to it as I'm able.

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