Excerpt from The Process of Asking for, Receiving and Giving Love & Forgiveness (previously posted as It is Finished).
Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.” And so He did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief. ~ Matthew 13:57-58
Love is the most rejected resource on Earth.
When you practice loving others, you quickly realize people aren’t so interested in what you have to offer. You also learn that love is not something you can force on others. Just like it’s a choice to love, it is also a choice to receive love. It’s akin to a game of catch (though I detest the thought of love being a game). A game of catch is only engaged when the tossed ball is accepted and returned. When one person puts the ball down and walks away from it, the game ends. Of course, loving people isn’t so simple, but the analogy is a better illustration of love as a fluid action of giving and receiving.
When relationships are over
Some time ago, the phrase “it is finished” looped on replay in my mind in the context of the dead relationships in my life. For the last several years, I had been trying to maintain, revitalize, pump up and get things started in various relationships. It took me a while to realize that God was separating me from not only the nonbelievers in my life, but also from the relationships that weren’t bearing good fruit. Once that realization came, it was easy to let go of people who didn’t want to be held.
So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. ~ Matthew 7:19-20
Late last spring, I had a dream that would have been disturbing, if taken at face value, but it proved to be a reassuring message instead.
I don’t recall the sequence but there was a scene in which all types of bugs were seen crawling around a sleeping body when a light was flipped on. There was a scene of a big, dark, empty room penetrated by several beams of light coming through a torn and drooping curtain. Then the most potentially disturbing scene was that of a decomposing body lying in the corner with the head stuck to a mop. Sounds gritty and nasty, I know. You’re probably wondering where the relief came in. After each scene the room was flooded by a bucket of hot, soapy water. The bugs were washed away, the curtain was fixed and pushed back to let more light in and the decomposing body was removed and the area it infected was cleaned. The scenes went on in a rotation with each one slightly different than the one before. The little bugs were washed away, but later one huge, animal-size flying bug unfolded on a counter top. The decomposing body was removed with the mop, but then the mop was needed to clean the floor, so the body had to be approached and disconnected from the mop in order to better clean the floor. Again, each scene ended with a full cleaning of the room and exposure to additional light.
I awoke feeling as if some work had been completed.
Whatever I had been doing that was not bearing fruit, I felt free to withdraw from. Whatever was weighing me down and blocking my light was being removed from my life. My Father was cleansing me. He was washing away all the darkness and ushering me further into His Light.
God requires obedience, faithfulness, respect, loyalty and a continued hope in Him. In return we receive His love, mercy, grace and salvation – actually that’s all on offer before we are placed in the womb. But we have to accept it all in order to benefit from it all. Our obedience is proof of our love of Him – keeping his law, adhering to his commands. Though His nature is love and He gives love unconditionally, we have the option to reject His love. Astounding, really – rejecting love; turning your back and walking away from it. But we have the choice to do that; the “freedom” to do as we please. However, the consequence of our choosing against God, life and love is that He then chooses not to fellowship with us. Our choices either unite us with God or separate us from Him. He tells us to make ourselves holy for Him because He is holy. He wants fellowship, but there are requirements we have to meet.
For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. ~ Leviticus 11:44
Follow me here: If we model our relationships after the prototype God has given us for our relationship with Him, there are basic things that both parties have to contribute to any relationship (be it friend, family, spouse, employment, etc.) for it to be successful. There needs to be an obedience/adherence to and respect for the foundation and expectation laid for the relationship (i.e. boundaries). There needs to be loyalty, faithfulness and a hope for continued growth and improvement. There needs to be a consciousness of and an effort to meet the requirements of the other party in the relationship. When both parties are giving and doing all that (and more, according to the needs of the individuals), then each party will bask in the other’s grace, mercy and covering.
And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” ~ 1 Peter 4:8 NKJ
However, when love, loyalty, faithfulness, and respect are lacking from either party to the other, the relationship becomes stagnant, it becomes a dead weight – a decomposing corpse. Relationships aren’t intended to be one-sided. Yes, God loves you unconditionally, but even He has requirements of you in order for you to reap the benefits of His love.
For those of you not doing your portion of the work in your relationships, wake up before you’re washed away. And for those of you toiling alone, think about breaking ground elsewhere. When the other party in the relationship you’re toiling in doesn’t accept or receive you, and you’ve done everything you know to do, it’s okay to let go and move on. That has been a hard lesson to learn, but I finally got it – not every situation I contribute to (sow into) will grow the expected or hoped-for fruit. Sometimes the fruit grown from a seed I plant may not be for me to harvest. It may not even be for me to water it. It may just be for me to plant the seed and move on. We will reap what we sow, but there’s no promise to reap where we sow.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. ~ Hebrews 10:19-22