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.
© 2020 by Oaks Ministries. All rights reserved.
J Curve is great book. Our church, in small groups, studied this book. Yes, it definitely get’s to the heart of where you live. The author is a good friend of my Pastors. I would recommend all his books.
My favorite, which he wrote with his father, is Sonship.
Thank you for letting me know about another good book from Miller! How did I miss this guy from our part of the globe?
Found him now. 🙂
Thanks for the beautiful post and beautiful pics! We are such weak vessels who so easily forget that each of our struggles and small deaths is far less than an atom of a molecule of the vapor that makes up our entire life. We will look back from heaven and shake our heads at our dim-wittedness! Thank you, Lord, for your patience! Thank you, Jesus, for showing us that we can be overcomers in you!
I smiled at “an atom of a molecule of the vapor that makes up our entire life. We will look back from heaven and shake our heads at our dim-wittedness!” One thing I treasure about our friendship is that you really join me in the brevity of life truth. Honestly, you played a role is my understanding of it through a note you wrote me on my 40th birthday that I saved for a long time and read time and time again. (And I put it in my book, didn’t I?) Thank you for your eternal perspective. Spurs me on. Keeps things straight in my head.
Thank you for your above note. I so rejoice that even though we live thousands and thousands of miles away from each other, we will spend eternity together forever!
Loved and so identified with this blog, Laurie! Read and re- read it! I, too, have found learning to walk the path of Jesus (dying and rising) to be THE Way to live the abundant life Jesus promised His followers.
I have learned much about the person of Jesus and His love from Paul Miller’s studies/ books, including another aspect of Jesus’ love: how to speak the truth in love when silence would actually be the unloving, even sinful response. As you said, so far to go, but grateful for the help these truths have been to my relationships. Grateful for what you and I share… the steadfast mercy and grace of our Lord! To God be the glory!
Thank you, Debbie. Yes, indeed, silence speaks. Silence can scream more loudly than words. Hard to discern sometimes when silence is the beautiful choice, or the ugly. Like when Jesus was silent before His accusers. Beautiful. But when I am silent and stewing in anger. Ugly.
May we all get better at love.