If you read my previous post “Ready, Set, Stop.” you know I am moving into an uncertain season where God has called me to be still and rest in His plan for me. At church the other night, worship included the song “Take Courage” by Bethel Music and my heart was hit by a train. I had never heard it before, but the words were exactly what I needed to hear:
Slow down take time
Breath in He said
He’d reveal what’s to come
The thoughts in His mind
Always higher than mine
And He’ll reveal all to come
I never slow down, I am always running at 100mph trying to get ahead in life and it’s exhausting. You can’t be your best self today if you are always trying to change yourself for tomorrow. I am also learning how to open up again and rekindle meaningful relationships instead of blending in and bottling up my feelings. Then the chorus hit me:
Take courage my heart, stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting, He’s in the waiting
Hold onto your hope, as your triumph unfolds
He’s never failing, He’s never failing
Being vulnerable takes courage, moving my life takes courage, walking in faith and not a predefined plan takes courage, but God is orchestrating the details behind the scenes. My job to be still and know that He is God and I am not as I patiently wait for Him to move. Hope has been my word recently, but I’ll cover that topic in another post!
The sermon itself focused on how God made us for relationships (ugh, why does this keep coming back around?) During the creation story in Genesis 1, we read, “And God saw that it was good” after each day until Genesis 2:18: “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him'” [emphasis added].
My first thought, “But what if I like to be alone? I’m safe and comfortable here” then Pastor Sachel asked, “What insecurities are causing you to avoid being in a relationship with others?” Immediately I was floored. Was he reading my mind? If I am being honest, I have plenty of insecurities that cause me from desiring a relationship. Who doesn’t?
I have fallen into relationships and equally fallen out of them for various reasons; each one being reminders of commitment issues, self-doubt, worthlessness, and painful memories/mistakes. Why should I open myself up again to those feelings? I have finally arrived at a place where I am content in my loneliness! Ready or not, here comes love. Pastor Sachel then transitioned into Romans:
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” Romans 12:9-13 (ESV).
V 9: Being in a relationship does not mean you have experienced being in love before. Genuine love is demonstrated, not merely spoken or labeled. You cannot say you love someone without actions to support the claim. Love isn’t a label, it’s a labor. I have since been recapping my past and wondering if I had experienced that kind of love before in a dating relationship. (Hint: I haven’t).
God is love (1 John 4:7-8) and I have experienced God’s great love for me through the sacrifice He made by sending His only son to die for my sins (John 3:16). So why am I comparing love to anything but God? Even better question, do I show that same kind of selfless, sacrificial love towards others? Do I labor in love or label love? Am I walking in love as an example of the love I have been shown through Christ’s sacrifice for me? Lord, let my love be genuine!
Similarly, do I “abhor” or reject what is evil? You cannot reject without replacing. The evil you reject must be replaced by that which is good, otherwise, the enemy will again fill that void. So many times after you have been hurt, you are left with a hole in your heart which tends to be filled with lies in the form of insecurities and doubts. Remember, you are enough and no one person determines your worth by their presence or absence in your life. Speak the truth you believe over your doubts: “Christ loved me to death.”
I don’t think I fully walk in awe of that truth every day. I am more concerned about other people “liking” me than my Creator sacrificially loving me. Mindset.
V. 10: Loving with “brotherly affection” is a call to community love for one another. Love is not restricted to the terms of a marriage arrangement. How do your brothers and sisters in Christ know that you love them? Are you being affectionate or defensive? Are you living with arms wide open or crossed close? Be courageous and love widely! Seek healthy relationships where you can equally build and be built up.
“Relationships” do not automatically mean “romantic”. Recently, I have been growing closer to a friend of mine that I met while living on the Eastern Shore. We both tend to bury our feelings and avoid vulnerability so we have agreed to talk on the phone every Sunday in order to deepen our friendship. Initiation is the most difficult thing to do, especially when you are suffering. Commit to communication and you will end up speaking about what’s on your mind and heart without even thinking about it; “for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45, ESV).
I believe a pinnacle point to Pastor Sachel’s message was encapsulated by the phrase: “True honor is shown secretly”. Genuine love and honor go hand in hand. Do you honor your relationships when they aren’t around? I don’t want to know what some people say about me when I’m not listening. What do you say when [he/she] is not around? I’ve been on both sides of that spectrum, but being the victim is detrimental.
I want to honor my relationships not only with my actions but with my words at all times. Speak honorably about others, and they will have nothing but honorable things to say about you. Even if they don’t, you know in your heart that your words were seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6).
I could keep going on because this passage makes so many great points, but the verse I have been meditating on lately is the last one: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12). Read my next post to see how that verse has been speaking to my spirit.
I hope you have been challenged and encouraged to think deeper, speak louder, and love wider!