Christianity is filled with people who think they have it all together. They’ve figured it all out and can speak to every issue and problem. At least, that is what they think. I was one of those guys.
I couldn’t understand why other Christians didn’t have it together like me. All the dots were connected in my mind and everything about the Christian life made sense.
Mind you, I was in my early twenties at the time. I didn’t have a lot of experience to speak of, but I did know what was wrong with the church. At least that is what I thought. Here was my analysis: “The church needs to love more.” Brilliant, right?
I thought the church should be doing more to help people in need. Every chance I got, I railed about what I perceived to be the church’s lack of vision and effort to help the poor and underprivileged in our community.
One day it dawned on me that I should stop talking about the problem and get about the business of loving those in need. Boy was I in for a shock. I quickly found out that I knew very little if anything about love.
I volunteered to be a Big Brother. The coordinator paired me with Floyd. Floyd was 43 years of age with the mental capacity of a second grader. He lived in a group home and spent most of his days at the local community center along with many other mentally challenged citizens. I met Floyd for the first time at this community center.
At first glance, I could tell there was something special about him. I really wanted to make a difference in his life.
I asked Floyd what he wanted to do the next time we got together. Without hesitation, he blurted out, “Bob, I want to go to Six Flags.” I wasn’t expecting this response, but I thought it would be great fun for the two of us.
But something strange started happening in meas the day drew closer. I started to get concerned about what people might think of me? Would they laugh at me, or make fun of me? Would I ever live it down with my friends that I went to Six Flags with a 43 year old mentally challenged “Little Brother?”
I knew I couldn’t back out. The day meant too much to Floyd.
I am ashamed to admit this, but when I awoke that Saturday morning to the sound of rain, I felt a sense of relief. I called Floyd with the bad news, but I promised I would take him the following Saturday.
That next Saturday was beautiful. When I picked up Floyd, he had a big smile on his face. He was ready to experience the best day of his life.
The Log Jamboree was the first ride of the day. The line was long, about a 45 minute wait. Approaching our turn, we marched up several steps and then crossed over a short bridge. While standing on the bridge, we watched those ahead of us taking off for their “white-water” adventure. After a few minutes, we walked down steps on the other side of the bridge and loaded into our log.
The attendant released the lever and off we went, around the bend and under the bridge. Right as we got to the bridge, Floyd ripped off his shirt and raised his hands to the sky. His spontaneous show of emotion turned the heads of onlookers. I felt a thousand pairs of eyes staring right at us. I wanted to hide under the seat. As I looked back, people were pointing and laughing. Floyd was joyfully oblivious to the jeers and sneers. I, however, felt every one.
Lunch was more of the same. Floyd wanted a hamburger with French fries. We got our food and searched for a table. The only one available was right next to the park’s main walkway. Of course we were there on one of the most crowded days of the year. Floyd piled on the ketchup and mustard. He opened his mouth wide and then chomped down on that juicy burger. Ketchup and mustard flew everywhere to the amusement of onlookers. And with each bite Floyd took, a steady stream spewed down his chin and onto his shirt.
I lowered my head and waited for Floyd to finish. He ate every bite. What he did leave was prominently displayed on his shirt. He cleaned up with little help from me, and then off we went to conquer the rest of the park.
At four that afternoon, Floyd was spent. He had given his all and experienced fun beyond his wildest imagination. But he was ready to go home. I was ready to go home, too. Protecting my fragile self-image had taken its toll on me.
As we were walking toward the gate to leave, Floyd put his arm around me, pulled me close and said, “Bob, I love you!”
My chin started to quiver. I fought to hold back the tears. I knew he genuinely meant it, but his words crushed me.
This day was supposed to be about Floyd, but all I could think about was good old me. Floyd didn’t know what was going on inside my heart and mind. For him, the day was monumental. He told his friends at the group home that it was the best day of his life. And it should have been the best day of my life.
It turned out to be one of the most painful. The day exposed my insecurities and fears. Floyd’s words brought them into razor sharp focus. His words also let me know that I knew very little, if anything, about the love of God.
I wanted to love people the way Jesus did, but that day I failed miserably. It took several years to pinpoint the problem. Finally, it hit me like a ton of bricks: I couldn’t love like Jesus because I didn’t know how He loved me.
Maybe, you’ve had a similar experience. Maybe you know the frustration of trying to love someone with the love of God only to end up totally concerned with your own issues. If that is the case, I invite you to step back and take a fresh look at the definition of love. What the Bible tells us about the love of God is life-changing. That’s what we will examine in this book.
Let me say up front. God wants you to know and experience His love more than anything else in life. So much so, He moved Paul to pen this incredible prayer:
I pray that out of his glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)
This is my prayer for you. I pray you will adopt it as your personal prayer. I guarantee this is a prayer God will answer in ways that far exceed anything you could “ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).
Excerpted from Love Is — http://loveisbook.net/