By Dana Minkler--
When I was asked to write something for the weekly E-Newsletter, I first dismissed it. Then I questioned God as to why I was even asked. I thought maybe I should pray about it. You think? Well, I did, and I was having a great conversation with God as to all the reasons I shouldn’t. After all, what could I possibly write about that would be a blessing to others? And when I started to feel like I should, could, and ought to, I said, “With your help God, I can." Then I started freaking out. "What did I just do, God? Why did I say yes?" So, here I am writing to you all about something the Lord has laid on my heart over the last few years.
I have family members and friends who have lifestyles and embrace worldviews and outlooks (such as "do whatever makes you happy") that are very different from my own. I have been asking myself how I should show the love of God to them? How do I love those in my life beyond my capabilities? How do I love others as Jesus loves me? It isn’t enough to say I love someone or actually have a heart of love if I don’t put that love into action. Only then am I truly loving.
God has shown me that I have to LOVE HIM first.
Deuteronomy 6:5 says, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might." In Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus replied, ”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself.”
So, I began my journey to learn how to love God, then myself, then my neighbors and put it into practice.
It’s hard to live out my love for people with non-Christian views or lifestyles that are not in line with mine. It’s a battle and I get in the way, my flesh, my mind, my heart, my sin, sleep deprivation, illness, unforgiveness, my lack of focus and Godly perspective, the world, Satan, etc. You name it, and I’ve been derailed.
As I searched for answers, God started by softening my heart through the years and showed me that I needed to separate the sin from the person. I used to find excuses not to spend time with them. Like they were contagious. I thought they would think that I was okay with their sin if I spent time with them. Really? What about my sin? How is that loving them? Well, I know it’s not. What God did was change my heart. He kept bringing me biblical truth through scripture, devotionals, Bible studies, and prayer. There are so many examples in the Bible to show me how to love. Jesus being the greatest of them all. Sacrificing himself for you and me!
I started by trying to be available to them. Available with a listening ear, showing kindness, sometimes being silent, laughing and crying with them, praying for and with them, having empathy, asking God to give me a heart of love and openness.
So each day I try to read my Bible, do a devotional or Bible study, pray, listen and acknowledge our precious awesome Creator throughout the day and continue my journey on learning to love God, myself, and my neighbors. Needless to say I will be on this journey until my last breath on this earth. It’s a good thing God is patient and merciful with me. It’s a good thing I have God on my side, the Creator of you, me and the universe! I can say, "Jesus I need you." I can cry out to Him at any given moment, "Let your Holy Spirit take over me, guide me, direct me and fill me up!" I have faith that He is and will continue getting through to me as long as I make myself available to Him. I am strong in the Lord when I allow Him in. I have nothing to fear because God is with me always. He will give me the words when I need to speak, ears when I need to listen, a teachable heart and a heart of love, empathy, patience, and mercy for whatever circumstance I am in. My desire is to to always be open and available to God as he teaches me how to love and live out His love.