Sunday, August 28, 2016

Love Broke Through

A recent love lesson in my life was a paradigm-shifting kind of lesson....the kind that takes me to a different place, the kind that demonstrates a perspective I never fully understood before.

In that love lesson, I saw love break through a tough shell that nothing else would have touched.  It left me humbled, grateful.....and more focused than ever on a life of demonstrated love.

The lesson began on a visit to San Francisco as I was walking on El Camino Real from our hotel to a nearby grocery.  Just ahead of me were two couples that had obviously been drinking.  The angry words and waving arms of one couple intensified as they walked.

I pretended to not hear or see them as I quickly walked around them.  Ten minutes later, purchases in hand, I started my return trip to the hotel.  At the door of the store, the couple was ending their fight by angrily separating.  The husband turned back in the direction I had first encountered them.

Because we were going the same way on the same sidewalk and I walk fairly fast, I was soon abreast him.....and fighting the war in my mind: "no I don't want to talk with him."  "He won't want to hear what I have for him."

But I knew I had something for him.  So, as I came abreast I slowed and told him that I saw his pain but saw also that his heart was good.

He was angry still!  He told me to keep moving, that it was none of my business, and that he didn't want Jesus.

So, I smiled at him and resumed my pace.

But then, a few seconds later, he said from behind me, "what have you got?"

I turned and let him catch up with me and we walked on together.  What I told him, in essence, was that I too was married, and marriage was hard sometimes.  I told him that I could see his heart was good.   As we so often say at Bethel, I "called out the gold" in him for several minutes.

Finally, we sat together for a while.  I continued to encourage him and tell him the good things in him that I saw.  He asked what church I was part of.   I told him that wasn't really so's not which Jesus community of which we are apart that is as important as who is our King.

When I felt our conversation had come to an end, I asked if I could pray with him.  I prophesied over him that the love that already was in his heart would grow and grow until if filled him and spattered out over his family and his marriage, and onto his friends who would wonder what had happened to him.

I did not speak about his obvious nearly drunken state, his cursing, or his vapes.  He did not need a list of problems in his life.  What he needed was to be loved.  What he needed was to hear that I could see that his heart was good and that he was loved right where he was ....... by the God of the universe, and by a brother.

After a bridge of love had been built, I gently offered some marriage advice from one brother to another.  I told him about some of my own life experiences, and about living an unoffended life.

When I stood up to go, he knew that God had spoken to him through me.  "God sent you to me!", he said.

We never exchanged more than first names, and the communities in which we lived, so I don't know the outcome in his life of this conversation.  Love had broken through a tough wall of hurt and anger, shame and guilt and brought with it hope and life.

While I have often seen the power of love in the lives of people, this was an important lesson about loving those we do not know.

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