When I caught a vision to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, my young heart was brave and my eyes were clear of the fog that can settle in without warning with the years. It was with bold proclamations – that I would love Him fully, without offense, till the Day of His Appearing. I made the vow and how real it was to me and to the Lord.
Yet I did not know. I did not know how hard the climb, how hazardous the path. I thought that to be “unoffended” meant only to do with HIM. I thought it meant remaining open to Him even when I didn’t understand His leadership, His ways, His will. And oh how it did mean that. But there was more. So much more. For beyond that test and that continual fight for the unoffended heart towards God – and in fact directly tied to it – lies the test and continual fight for the unoffended heart towards all those around us. Those sharp edged rocks that wound and tear and leave the heart bitter on a dime. The opportunities for disappointment, bitterness and offense outnumber the steps of the path. And no one is exempt from their snares.
[framed_box] And then there’s the Enemy who takes out a heart not over moments but decades. Not suddenly but subtly, like growing shadows. And just when the soul that was once so courageous and alive reaches the outward years of strength – the inward begins to implode. Right when its time to take full stride, the heart can’t unearth its passion and sits sidelined on the road.[/framed_box]
Vulnerable Moments are never Neutral
This is where Jesus comes to us. Just when we’re hurt and afraid and ready to give in to the constant fight against offenses and just. shut. down. He invites us where we never dreamed.
[framed_box] Such moments of heart exposure are never neutral.
On the one side, these heartaches in our relationships have the potential to stifle and distance us from the very heart of our existence – our relationship with Jesus.
Yet on the other side, such vulnerable moments of grasping to the end of our rope and keenly tasting of our own love run-dry, we are more postured than ever for an inbreaking of God.[/framed_box]
Jesus’ intentions when He invites us to aim our trust straight through the one causing us pain to Him move far beyond just keeping our hearts from shutting down. He doesn’t just want us preserved, He wants our full partnership. He’s not just after our survival but our full-fledged, self-forgotten laying of our lives down just as He did. That the world would see God and His love manifested (Jn. 13:34, 35; 1 Jn. 4:7).
Fullness of Love Begins at the End of Our Self-Preservation
In those moments of heartache – when we truly love God and our greatest fear of all is losing touch with that tenderness in our hearts toward HIM – that’s just when the beauty of God is about to break forth from broken lives if we say yes.
[framed_box] Though the hards of relationships have the power to ultimately shut down our heart even to the Lord, they also have the potential to bring us nearer to the heart of Jesus than we’ve ever been before. When our love runs dry for all it’s original steam, that is when we witness firsthand the Love that never fails, never wearies and never grows faint (1 Cor. 13:8). [/framed_box]
When that cycle of self-reliance is broken and when we relinquish that constant fight to self-preserve, then we can witness and stand in awe together of the mystery of the love of Christ – in all its heights and depths and lengths and widths – lavished on the undeserving and the broken – surpassing knowledge yet known by His saints (Eph. 3:17-19).
As we walk through that invitation to love our brother with heart open and all the grind and grit that goes with it, we refuse the broad road of offense and bitterness. Fighting through the narrowness of longsuffering, believing all things and bearing with one another, we’re only at the beginning of the joy of comprehending the love of Christ (1 Cor. 13:7; Eph. 3:19; 4:2).
And turning to us as we walk this road of His commands, He whispers,
You thought you were at the end – sidelined and shut down. Your cry was, ‘Will I make it?’ My answer to you here in this moment? You’re so much closer than you’ve ever been before.