Journey to Love

Dear Pioneer,

One fundamental aspect to love that I have learned is that love is not selfish, but it also does not forsake self.  The infamous commandment we hear about is “Love your neighbor as yourself.” To love others properly, we must love ourselves as well.  I like to call this “other-centered love.” It may seem obvious to you, but to me, the idea of loving myself seemed “unchristian-like.”  I was always taught that others mattered more than me, and I needed to spend my life dying each day because who I am is unworthy – Loving myself was an act of selfishness. 

The morning God came to my rescue in my kitchen while cooking breakfast is a vivid memory.  It was the day that Love was revealed to me.  Not love the verb, but Love the noun; Love the person.  That is why throughout this book, I will often refer to God as Love.  The verse God is love became alive in my entire being that morning, and it changed my life.  Elsa is my mom.  Everyone but my brother and I call her Elsa; we call her mom.  God is Love, and while most call Him God, I call Him Love. 

That glorious morning Love met me in my kitchen, transformed and restored me to who He designed me to be.  That was the day I began my journey – a journey that will take me well beyond this lifetime – a journey I’m glad you’ve decided to join.

Jesus gave His life for all of us.  He is the ultimate sacrifice of love.  While there may be times where someone has to give their life, literally, to save someone else, that’s not the majority.  It is the exception.  So, what does it look like to live my life in love?

I have found that speaking on love as heavily as I do is controversial.  I can’t tell you how often I have heard phrases that start with “God is Love, but.”  Oh, how that “but” rings in my ears because there is nothing about God in opposition to love.  Is God holy? Yes.  Does God judge? Yes, He does.  Those attributes to God are not in opposition to His love.  They are found in His love.  His holiness, discipline, and judgments come from His nature of love.  

I’m sure that most everyone would agree with me, but there is still a conflict because mostly everyone knows someone who loves someone too much, and they wind up enabling their poor decisions and behaviors.  I have been someone who has “loved” so much that I enabled poor choices.  What I’ve learned is that my love was flawed and did not reflect Love accurately.  The truth is that enabling stemmed from a fear of disappointing the person or even causing them to walk away from me.  Fear! What an ugly monster.

After Love encountered me, I became determined to learn to love from Him. 

The first thing I learned is that fear is never acceptable where there is love.  If I fear someone walking away from me or getting upset with me for sharing the truth with them, then I need to pause and ask if it is truly love.  Perfect Love casts out fear.  This was foundational for me in learning how to love.

As Holy Spirit continued to teach me to love as He loves, I realized that the Scriptures define love.  It doesn’t necessarily match with our typical view of love, which causes us to miss it.  We tend to define love philosophically instead of theologically.  We use our human minds and experiences to define love, but love is not natural; it’s supernatural; it’s Divine.  We need God to define it for us.

Love; A four-letter word that carries immense power, depth, and mystery. It’s an emotion and a decision; a noun and a verb. Love transcends dimensions and is eternal.

Love. A simple, common word, but its true nature is often misunderstood. While the dictionary defines love as a deep affection for (someone), I had an encounter with Love that revealed to me the true definition.

God is love, and love is God. Therefore, if we want to know what love is and what it looks like, we can look to God. Instead of starting off defining love and then applying it to God, we can look to who God is to define love.

God is Love; therefore, He defines love. Not the other way around.

A few words or even a few sentences cannot define Love. Its complexity is what makes it divinely beautiful. Love’s intricacy craves wisdom because only those with God’s heart can maneuver through this life in love.

Defining love is not an easy task. Yet, knowing what it looks like in demonstration as we journey through life on Earth is a desire that should burn in our souls because to demonstrate love is to demonstrate God.

How does one define love? Love is God. We will spend eternity unwrapping the glorious definition of this intrinsically magnificent word, but for now, God inspired Paul to describe it to us.

But you should all constantly boil over with passion in seeking the higher gifts.

And now I will show you a superior way to live that is beyond comparison!

If I were to speak with eloquence in Earth’s many languages, and in the heavenly tongues of angels, yet I didn’t express myself with love, my words would be reduced to the hollow sound of nothing more than a clanging cymbal.

And if I were to have the gift of prophecy with a profound understanding of God’s hidden secrets, and if I possessed unending supernatural knowledge, and if I had the greatest gift of faith that could move mountains, but have never learned to love, then I am nothing.

And if I were to be so generous as to give away everything I owned to feed the poor, and to offer my body to be burned as a martyr, without the pure motive of love, I would gain nothing of value.

Love is large and incredibly patient.  Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense.  Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others.  Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.

Love never stops loving. It extends beyond the gift of prophecy, which eventually fades away. It is more enduring than tongues, which will one day fall silent. Love remains long after words of knowledge are forgotten. Our present knowledge and our prophecies are but partial, but when love’s perfection arrives, the partial will fade away.  When I was a child, I spoke about childish matters, for I saw things like a child and reasoned like a child. But the day came when I matured, and I set aside my childish ways.

For now we see but a faint reflection of riddles and mysteries as though reflected in a mirror, but one day we will see face-to-face. My understanding is incomplete now, but one day I will understand everything, just as everything about me has been fully understood. Until then, there are three things that remain: faith, hope, and love—yet love surpasses them all. So above all else, let love be the beautiful prize for which you run.

1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13 (tPt)

So, my dear friend and pioneer, now that we know where we are headed and what to expect, I hope you have your hiking shoes and backpack ready because it’s time to get this journey started.  Let’s start at the very beginning – God. 

There’s still time to join the journey

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