The phone rang at 6 a.m…
and roused me from a deep sleep. My daughter was calling to let me know she was headed to Urgent Care or the ER because of an ankle injury she suffered the prior evening in a soccer game. Did I have an opinion about which one? Groggily, I said either was fine and struggled to get back to sleep.
At 8:15 a.m. the phone rang again,
rousing me again from a deep sleep. The same daughter informed me her ankle was broken. Groggily again, I asked some questions, made some comments, and hung up.
I laid there, irritated.
No one had done anything wrong. My sleep had simply been interrupted twice before 8:30 a.m. Late start to the day. Grumpy and discombobulated.
Out of my mouth it came: “Jesus, how did you do it? How did you live a life of laying down your life to love people? I can’t even handle two calls that interrupt my sleep.”
What does the love of Jesus look like?
Last Sunday I read the prophetical account of Christ on the cross in Isaiah 52:14: But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man.
I scribbled in the margin: “Oh, Jesus, and I can’t hold my tongue over a small offense. Forgive me.”
Truth is, my ability to love people is threatened by things as simple as being awakened by a harmless phone call. For many years now, I have been asking God to teach me what love is. I have actually asked Him to turn me into love. I have come a long way, but I still have a long way to go.
Last Sunday I started and finished a book in one day.
I can’t remember the last time I couldn’t put a book down: The J Curve: Dying and Rising with Jesus in Everyday Life, by Paul E. Miller. Page after page, I looked at diagrams and read examples about how we love others through small acts of dying. I pondered verses like, The Lord Jesus Christ…gave himself for our sins, (Galatians 1:3a-4b) and Christ died for our sins. (1 Corinthians 15:3b)
Jesus substituted Himself for us.
Miller writes, “So just as Jesus substitutes himself for us, we substitute the pieces of our lives for others.” (p. 30) Jesus died the ultimate disfiguring death for all people in history, which we can’t do. But what we can do – and what love requires – is a lot of little deaths each day. We are to sacrificially die to our fleshly responses that cry out to express themselves when we are irritated, wronged or inconvenienced.
This dying-and-rising process enables us to love like Him.
Later in the same chapter of Isaiah from above, Scripture says about Jesus, He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word.
I wrote in the margin: What??
All around me these days, people seem triggered. It doesn’t take much to get a strong emotional response. It feels like we can’t even get one word wrong in a sentence without being immediately interrupted and called out for our error. It feels as if even when words are fine but tone of voice isn’t perfect, were are instantly interrupted and chastised.
And quite frankly, I am just not that good with every word and tone.
So I get interrupted, corrected, called out and chastised more every day. And I don’t think I am the only one experiencing this. Sadly, I have to make sure I am not doing the same to others. More and more it seems, conversations are being replaced by sound bites that are responded to by others sound bites. Motivations are assumed, not discovered with polite questioning. People assume the worst, not the best. Syllables and words are being dissected instead of ideas being heard.
Miller writes: “I am not alone. With the life of faith weakening in our culture, the modern self’s fragility is increasingly on display. People’s inability to laugh at themselves is just the self set on a hair trigger. Seeming slights…take on a life of their own. Little communication problems become quarrels, making us touchy. (p. 45)
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
Living this verse doesn’t turn us into a doormat. Living like this is not weak. This is what it means to look like Jesus.
When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:23)
I think I need to look more like my Savior and not say a word.
I need to die the little deaths, and in so doing, incarnate His love and then rise again in Holy Spirit-filled display of God’s nature to a watching world. (Incarnate means to embody or represent in human form.)
Love hurts. Just like it did for Jesus.
Picture Explanation: The magnificent book I read, and the magnificent photography of Dan Thompson. (The fact that he shares my brother’s name is not lost on me, by the way. We are acquainted.) He captures the sky better than anyone. Comets, the Milky Way. And he hangs out for hours to capture the magic of lighting that only lasts a moment as the sun rises or sets. His blog is worth a follow at danandholly.com. He will send you the picture of each week, along with the story of how he captured it.
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