Inspired to Share the Passion of Others
"Whoever is wise, let him understand these things, whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them." Hosea 14:9
Like many other people, I come from a broken home. My parents divorced before the first family photo could be made with me in it. For about the first seven years of my life, my grandparents took care of me, my Mother, and my older sister. This arrangement worked until my Mother became ill and could no longer take care of my sister and I. My sister and I then moved in with my Dad and his new family.
From a very early age I thought that love was given conditionally. Love, to me, was kinda like a toggle switch. If the switch was turned on I would be in good graces with the person controlling the switch, but if the switch was turned off that meant love was withheld or some type of wrath was coming. The toggle switch seemed to be controlled by anyone with authority over me. With so many conditions in place and the rules always changing, I began living in a constant state of stress just trying to avoid any judgment or criticism. Soon there were even more conditions added when my family began going to church. As long as I performed according to all the rules, my life would be much happier and less stressful.
I shuffled through my life in what you would call "survival mode ". I had no long-term plan or goals for my future. In fact, my future was pretty bleak with not much in the way of hope at all. From my perspective, life was pretty much about finishing High School, getting a job and moving out as soon as possible. I wanted to be in charge of my own life and my own happiness.
At the time, I didn't notice how selfish my thinking had become. I had no loyalty to anything nor anyone. I was looking out for myself. I didn't realize that the whole time I was looking for my own happiness, I was becoming more and more withdrawn. Looking back, I realize now, that not only was my life being influenced by certain people, but I had the opportunity to influence others' lives for good, but didn't. I had become selfish.
It took a lot of pain and heart ache for me to finally understand that unconditional love is meant to be experienced by everyone. Often we are led to believe that all love is conditional because in this broken world people will always let you down, hurt you and even betray you. I haven't always displayed a hesed love (or steadfast, loyal love) toward others, but God has always loved me unconditionally. Not only has He forgiven me, but he continues to love me.
It took me a long time to realize just how steadfast God's love is for me. I have sinned against others as well as God, yet God has not forsaken me. God is holy and just, so he couldn't just let my sin go unpunished. God has displayed steadfast love for me. He provided me a way out. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
It is only because of Jesus Christ that I am able to be reconciled to God and bought back by the blood that Jesus shed willingly on the cross for me. Christ died so that I could live. "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23 (ESV)
There is not a day that passes that I don't feel love and gratitude to God for his endless mercy on me. I want to please and honor him by being obedient to His commands. I want to love what He loves. When Jesus was asked which is the greatest commandemnt, His reply was: "...You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. " Matthew 22:36-39 (ESV)
"...God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."1 John 1:5-9
"And I will betroth you to me forever, I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord." Hosea 2:19-20