the only love worth living for.
FOR THE SPIRIT GOD GAVE US DOES NOT MAKE US TIMID, BUT GIVES US POWER, LOVE AND SELD-DISCIPLINE. -2 TIMOTHY 1:7
I want you to answer me something.
What’s the opposite of timid? Now, hold that answer in your mind. Got it? I’m going to guess you said “courageous” or “bold”. Yeah, me too. And mostly, we’d be right. But that’s not what our verse says. It says, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” Do you see what’s going on there? Our verse is contrasting timidity with power, love, and self-discipline. Somehow those three attributes are the opposite of timidity. Power I can see. We already talked about power last week. And next time, we’ll tackle self-discipline. But today, we’re talking love, love that’s the opposite of timidity—bold, courageous love, the love of God. And if his love is fearless, and it’s in us, then we can love boldly too.
Let me tell you what kind of love we’re talking about. We’re talking about:
Love that’s radical, sacrificial, overwhelming.
Love that pursues relentlessly, undeterred by obstacles.
Love that’s constant, patient, free.
Love that’s not just a construct or a behavior.
God is love (1 John 4:16). He didn’t merely create love, and he doesn’t just exude love. He IS love. And I could cite scripture or give you theology on this God, the God who is love. But, since the purest, truest Love we can know is a person, I’ll tell you a story of how God’s love is personal to me.
(CONTINUED FROM ABOVE)
Yesterday, I was driving by myself.
A thing this mom of five does NOT take for granted. Ever. Anyhow, I have this new-fangled car (which is really a computer on wheels), and yesterday it automatically paired with my phone and started randomly playing music. It was old music that I’d bought years ago on iTunes. And this song called “Beautiful Sound” started playing. I seriously hadn’t heard it in over a decade, and I’d forgotten all about it. As I listened though, memories came flooding back and I was transported to another time—a time when I was home all day with a couple of itty-bitties, feeling unimportant, uncertain, and unseen. It was during that season that “Beautiful Sound” broke in, singing a different tune. The refrain says, “Now I see, the way you look at me, it sets my heart at ease.” For someone who felt rather inconsequential, it was exactly what I needed to hear. I needed to hear that God, THE God of everything, took notice of me. He not only saw me, but delighted in me, and the way he looked at me could give my heart peace. Those lyrics helped me visualize his face beaming at me, not because I was doing something grand, but just because he loved me, as-is. That would’ve been enough, but there’s more, something I hesitate to even mention because it’s soooo… well, weirdly personal. But for me, it was the cherry on top, so I’m just gonna share it with you. You see, I have this hidden talent: I can play the trumpet… only without a trumpet, just with my mouth. It’s a mouth trumpet (it’s not weird at all). I’m sure you’re probably impressed. I must say, people are often left speechless when I break out the mouth trumpet, as you might imagine. But here’s where it gets crazy. At the very end of the song, Karla Adolphe, the singer, breaks out into a full verse of mouth trumpeting. I’m not kidding! I’ve never heard it in another song, and I don’t know if I can communicate how it made me feel. Here was this song that I felt was just for me. And it was like God was saying to me, “I see you, and I delight in you, even the weird parts!” So yesterday, when I heard that mouth trumpet again, I trumpeted right along, crying like a loon, all by myself in my car. Yup. It was the best. And it was also probably for the best that I was alone. It was pretty personal. And for me, it was just this wonderful, little gift in the middle of my busy day. The God who saw me way back when, he still sees me, and he still delights in me. And he’s still here in it with me on this ride, loving me in profoundly personal ways.
And his love widens my heart.
Not just me though! I’m sure you have stories too—personal, particular ways that God has said to you, “I see you and I love you and I’m with you”. His Spirit is IN us and he “does not make us timid, but gives us… love”. We have Spirit-given love in us. We are fully equipped to love God back and to love others boldly. I mean, isn’t that how we often experience God’s love? Through other people loving us? In fact, the first time I really experienced and understood the bold love of God, it didn’t come from him directly, but through a person. It was like nothing I knew before. It broke down my categories and my walls. It was unwarranted and compelling and wonderful.
Let me tell you about it.
During my first year at college, I got an unexpected knock on my dorm room door. It was this upperclassmen girl, Janette, whom I didn’t know at all. She asked if I wanted to chat... about Jesus. Jesus??? Kinda odd, to be sure. But she was sweet and open and winsome in her courage, so I said, “sure”. She said some things about Jesus and the Bible, which mostly shot straight over my head. Then she asked if I wanted to join a Bible study. My answer started with a “hard pass”, and evolved into “probably not”, eventually landing on ”What’s a Bible study?” When she told me, I thought it was a weird coincidence, since I’d gotten a Bible for graduation, and I had a lot of questions. So, I made a full circle from “nope” to a solid, “I’ll give it a try”. And I went to that Bible study… like 3 times. To be honest, it was a total fail. I had absolutely NO IDEA what they were talking about, which might’ve been okay, except I felt totally out of place with the really good girls in the study. I was certainly NOT a good girl; I was more of a bad girl. It’s not that they were judging me, it’s just that I suspected, if I were honest, I would scandalize them. I was kinda sad and mad about it, really. So, the next time I saw Janette, and she asked why I wasn’t coming, I tried to push her away. I told her it wasn’t my thing, and I shared all my nasty secrets to scare her off. After all, she was a good, “Jesusy” kind of girl, that’d probably do the trick. But do you know what? She wasn’t deterred, just the opposite, she pressed in. She said she really liked me, and that was okay. She’d still love to meet with me, just the two of us. We could chat about whatever, including all my questions about the Bible and God and Jesus. I was flabbergasted, why would she persist? Why would she keep on pursuing me? She returned my stiff-arm with an embrace! Who was this girl?!?! Not like anyone I’d ever met before, you can bet. And for the next year and a half, she kept meeting with me, looking up answers to my questions, giving me articles and books. But really, there was something more to it than logical answers. There was Janette, who loved me in a resolved, unflinching way. She saw me and she loved me, despite all my rough edges. It was something I didn’t understand at the time. I thought she must be special. And she was, for sure! But the thing that made her special was the Spirit in her, giving her a revolutionary, persistent love for me.
Her love confounded me and drew me in.
It was the reflection of a love I hadn’t known, a love that would pursue me, as-is. Her love introduced and pointed me to a greater Love, God himself. And his love for me is still everything, because he is everything. He’s why I sing and cry and mouth-trumpet songs in my car. He’s why I keep writing these words every week. His love for me makes me bold to share it, just like Janette did with me all those years ago. I want you to know that love too, to feel it in your bones and to experience it personally. I want you to feel compelled to share your own stories of God’s beautiful, specific, bold love. He is our one True Love, and his love is worth sharing! Be bold, my friend!
Are you weak?
How has God shown you his personal, real, bold love in ways that are unique to you?
Who needs to hear your stories? Be bold!
Thanks for reading,
Meet Natalie,Dwell co-founder
Hi there, I'm Natalie. I'm so glad you're here. I'd love to connect with you and hear more about what God is doing in your life!
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