Love — Reflecting on Making Jesus First & Living Second

Reflecting on Week 7, Day 3: Love from Doug Bender’s new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First {buy it here:  Live Second and bonus! If you buy before December 15, author Doug Bender is offering an amazing bonus which you can find here.}

Check out: Mark 12:28 – 34

I chose this topic to kick off my posts because when I think of living second, I think of loving God first.  And I also think of loving others before myself.

When I was younger I used to think of love as being this amazing feeling, you have it all the time.  Everything is happy.  Everyone is happy.  Life is good.  Love will make it all better.

Then, I got older.

Life happened.  I realized that life is not always happy.  That love sometimes doesn’t last.

But love can last.  Even through the icky stuff.  It’s that euphoric, over the top feeling that will never last.

Every relationship I have ever had (parents, siblings, children, dating, etc) goes through changes.  It’s that ebb and flow of life.

There is a person in my life, whom I love so much.  I have known them since before I had memories, they are a big part of the fabric that makes up my life story.  My life wouldn’t be what it is today if they were not a part of it.  But our story is not all happy.  There has been deep and immense pain in this relationship.  Broken trust.  Some of my greatest pain has been born from this person.  Times of not feeling love.  Times when I really truly felt that I didn’t ever want to see them again.  Deep wounds that have healed, but left a scar on my heart.

Thankfully I have another person in my life, who also loves this person and loves Jesus.  They consistently spend time in prayer for us.  Offer a shoulder to cry on when they pain gets too much.

But healing has come.  It happened slowly.  After a devastating event, I cut myself off.  No calls.  No visits.  No nothing.  I did not want to see them or talk to them.  This went on for six months (an eternity for us).  Through the prayers of a small little girl, my heart began to heal and soften.  Contact was made.  Redemption.  It hasn’t been all smooth sailing, but it gets better most days.

Over the years, a lot of reading, and even more prayers I have learned a significant truth.  Hurt people hurt people.  And only God can bring the kind of healing that will mend those hurts.  But sometimes people are so shut off that they don’t want to hear about or from God.  It’s easier to wallow in their own hurt and self-pity.

That’s where love comes in.  Our love for them.  Our love for God.  I could not love this person in my life the way that I am able to without God.  Humanly, I couldn’t do it.  It’s too hard.  But God breathes this beautiful love for them into my heart, that sustains even when the happy love feeling is no where to be found.

And because God has given me this beautiful love, I can show them that love.  But I had to make a choice.  A choice to accept the love God has for me.  A choice to show that love even through my own pain and hurt.  And sometimes I don’t make the right choice.  But thankfully God continues to work on me and His love is unconditional.  Available.  And it redeems the broken.  Overcomes the wrong choices.  Offers healing.

In the devotional, Doug Bender, writes, “Love is not a feeling.”  Amen.  It’s not a feeling at all.  Sometimes it comes with a feeling.  But love itself is not a feeling.

He goes on to say that love is, “The reason for our creation and the foundation of all relationships.”  If we don’t accept that, our life’s purpose will be unfulfilled.  Our relationships will end without that foundation.  Life is meaningless without God’s love.

I hope that you have chosen to accept God’s love for you.  To live for Him first and foremost.  Because in living second, there is immense freedom.  There is joy where it seems impossible; hope in the darkest of places; and healing in the most shattered and broken places.

Love Jesus.  Love others.  Live Second.

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7 thoughts on “Love — Reflecting on Making Jesus First & Living Second

    • Beautiful and true words!! I love that…love is definitely more about commitment and perseverance than feelings. But we are led to believe it’s more about feelings than anything else. And that leaves us vulnerable during those times of struggle that are inevitable.

  1. I really enjoyed this. It reminded me of some lessons that God taught me while I was working in Russia… and that He is still teaching me. 🙂 Our ministry was going through a very difficult time. There were a lot of hurtful things happening on a daily basis. During that time I found 2 Corinthians 12:15, “I will gladly spend and be spent for you, though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” I wrote the verse out and hung it on the back of my door so that I would see it every morning before leaving for the day. It seemed like the perfect motivator. No matter what – love. No matter what – spend for others. No matter what…
    But “what” kept happening. One day, I realized that as I was leaving the room all I was seeing was, “though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” I took the sign down and put it away. My focus had become distorted.
    It is very easy to get our eyes on the hurt and off of the Savior. It’s easy to only see that our love is being trampled and to forget that our sin sent Him to the cross.
    I loved the idea of living second from the moment I watched my first “I Am Second” video, but I learned long ago that sometimes living second, actually means living third. It means putting Christ first, others second and ourselves last. Sometimes “spending and being spent” requires and enormous amount of vulnerability. Sometimes loving means being kicked to the floor, getting back up and wrapping your arms around your offender in an even deeper love than you had for them before. The key is to do it GLADLY, not by our own strength (’cause we can’t), but by His grace. It requires keeping our eyes on His amazing love for us. Sometimes getting to that point takes time, but it’s always worth it… I still have that little sign – I can see the whole thing again! 🙂
    Thanks for your post and for your openness and honesty!

    • You are sooooo right! Living second, often really mean third. I loved your story, it reminds me of that need to constantly remain with our eyes on Him or things will get distorted. Thank you for your thoughts and sharing your story, they brightened my day and encouraged me. And you are right…it’s always worth it.

      • Couldn’t help but reply on this comment thread instead of mine. There is nothing like fellowship and encouragement from like-hearted people. As time goes, it seems so far and few between sometimes. Thank you all for sharing. Remember, God’s way commissions us in such a way that is often pioneering in ways where there are very few footprints on the ground we walk on. Whether it be going to an area hostile to the gospel, or forgiving and giving grace to someone where anger and bitterness would be the route of everyone else.

        Our four walls and closed doors ought to be able to speak volumes of our integrity and intense pursuit of His ways. We can live this way. He has called us to be thermostats, not thermometers.

        You all are very inspiring, a breath of fresh air!

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