It's such a dynamic word. We use it for so many things:
I love sleep.
I love food.
I love my friends.
I love my iPod.
I love exercise (huh?).
I love ___.
It's a word that can be such a powerful yet messy force, yet it's thrown around like the bills you get in the mail.
This theme of love has been at such a forefront in my life lately. I was in Montana with my immediate family for Christmas. Hands down the best time I've had with my family in a long time. During my 9 day stay, I had the privilege of seeing the ups and downs my sister and brother-in-law endure with their 10, 5, and now 2-year old children. Parents can say it all they want: they try to treat their kids the same way. But they don't. Yet, to me that is not a bad thing at all.
My sister did not bear three fence posts. All of her kids are very different, and each require different kinds of attention. To her kids, that might not seem fair. From my perspective, I see the kind of love only parents understand. She loves each of them equally and wholly above everything else besides her relationship with God, and her love adapts to what the child needs.
I'm currently studying the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. In the past, I've focused so much on the "wow" factor that Jesus did this awesome miracle that I have forgotten the rest of the story. Little did I know that the entire way Jesus was teaching his disciples, and Lazarus' grieving sisters, that God's will overrules theirs. Period. It's not that God did not listen to Mary and Martha's plea for healing. It's just that they expected Jesus to do something sweet. They took Jesus like a Staples "EASY" button and assumed everything would be fine.
Obviously, we know the ending of this story. God's glory was revealed in such tremendous fashion that most scholars believe if Jesus simply said "Come out" the entire tomb full of dead people would've waltzed out! God in His magnificent foresight knew that people were taking Jesus for granted and needed to realize Who He really is.
Continuing this theme of love I've been around, I couldn't help but notice something about one of the more famous verses in the Bible. John 11:35, the shortest verse in the Bible, simply states "Jesus wept." Before that John wrote that Jesus saw Lazarus' sisters crying and was "deeply moved in spirit and troubled" (11:33b, NIV). I never thought about why Jesus, God made flesh, would be troubled by this event. However, you would have to go back to the beginning of the chapter and see that the messengers Mary and Martha sent out to Jesus about Lazarus simply said "Lord, the one you love is sick." (11:3b, NIV) Lazarus and his family were very close to Jesus. Almost like family. Now the picture is in focus. Jesus, being God and Man at once, could feel and mourn like we do. Scholars think that Jesus was reacting to the nature of death, and how its sting brings sadness to the people He loves. Though Jesus was and is God, He feels and was saddened by how sin in the world has brought us great pains and sorrows.
I may be talking out of my big fat butt, but this story created for me a more real mental picture of Jesus and how powerful and deep his affection for us will go. Near the end of my high school senior year, my friend Chris and I had some "free time" between classes, so we decided to listen to some music and nap in my car. Before we dozed off, without any provoking he was telling me how wonderful his girlfriend Brooke (now his wife) is and how he adored her. At the time all I could think of was "duh, you've been after her since the 7th grade," yet this little blip has stuck in my mind.
I can imagine Jesus sharing his deep love and adoration for us. He probably talks to God or the angels about the struggles we endure, the things we need to learn, and all the growing we need to do. He is there when we fall off our bike, or get straight A's, or rebelliously ignore Him, or repeatedly make the wrong decisions, or leap into His arms to bear hug Him, or soak his robe in sobbing tears. Unfortunately not everyone in the world has had a great model to picture God as a loving Father. How tragic! Nevertheless, shouldn't that compel us even more so to love with such a deep love and forgiving grace to one another as God does?! I submit that yes, it does. It is so hard to do, but what a great model to follow!
So we are His portion and He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If His grace is an ocean we're all sinking!
So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
And I don't have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way
That He loves us
Oh how He loves us - John Mark McMillan