i wonder if i can love enough

When I met and married Jill, I was in professional ministry: stuff we can now do for free.  As a seminary trained minister, I allowed me to think I was, what?  More spiritual?  A little better?  I am not sure.

It evidenced often.  Here’s a way.  Jill loved horses and Colorado.  Loves.  And I wondered subconsciously if maybe she loved them more than Jesus, or God.

When we married, I knew for a while that I loved Jill more than anything, but I “corrected” that by relearning to love Jesus first.  Again, I got paid to believe like that.

I spent another thirty years with Jill.  I resigned from church work, and I now play at being honest.  I say “play” because honesty without love or grace is an all-consuming monster.  Brave souls have faced it and been ground to dust.  Many write novels to journal it.

In my honesty I found nothing affects me like a horse or mountains move Jill.  Okay, I weep at some books or movies, but it’s different: not as structural, as fundamental as is Jill’s love for horses like Firefrost or Dartagnan; or the Princeton Valley, Chalk Cliffs, and skiing the Rockies.

I ride bikes.  Clear land.  Work in wood.  Ski.  Write.  Travel some, and nothing grabs me like being on a horse on a snowy day grabs, sustains, heightens, infuses Jill’s day with light and hope.

Which caused me to go back and hear John, whom I translated from Greek: [1 John 4:20] “For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”

Jill loves her brothers and sisters, and we see them more than mine.  Jill loves our grand-kids, and goes to lengths to babysit them more than me.  Jill also walks our land and draws strength up out of the ground through her boots — when I see all that needs to be done.  Jill also loves Lewis and MacDonald as if they were fiances she lost in the war.

And John shattered my thinking.  Jill has been passionately crazy about people and things God has crafted for her and handed her — far more than anyone I know.

So God, by way of John, is using Jill, not my measuring stick, to show me: Loving who and what has been evidenced to me by God, is the first step in really learning to love the One who created them as evidence of His love to — me.

This may be a great year to learn to love more.

 

Lifelong Passion

When I was in my twenties, I served on staff in churches because I loved Jesus.  I saw older men who had begun by serving Jesus in churches, but no longer did so.  They quit, crapped out, fell away, stopped, and a host of other ungenerous, unkind ways to simply sum someone else’s life.

In my fifties, I resigned from serving on a church staff.  I spent more time, drained more of my soul managing an organization rather than serving or loving anyone.

In my twenties, I knew my passion for Jesus would sustain me, allow me an obedience in a long line, enable me to finish well.  I still do, but the world is more complex than I understood.

I remember Larry Bethune, a pastor, saying, ” I am going to leave church work and go into ministry. ”   We laughed, but now I smile quietly.

People wear you down.  Churches goof up.  People fail you and hurt you.  You fail people, dear ones, and hurt them.  You find that people and churches study their navels and loving the poor, fighting for justice, and establishing new answers to stupefying challenges missionaries face around the world, is relentlessly, witheringly, draining.

To have fire left in you in life’s autumn, it turns out, is like salvation: a gift.  You should not claim gifts as if you manufactured them; you nurture them as precious bought kindnesses you could never have deserved.