Do What?

What you must do is love your neighbor as yourself. There is no one who knows your many faults better than you! But you love yourself notwithstanding. And so you must love your neighbor, no matter how many faults you see in him. ~Martin Buber

“What’s wrong, Traci? Are you sick?” One of my favorite ESL students was concerned because my voice was gravelly.

“No, I just have a frog in my throat.”

“What? You have a frog in your mouth?” Her eyes popped wide open.

She’s a very good English student, but sometimes knowing and understanding are two different things.

In Luke 10, we meet a man who knew, but obviously didn’t understand. He asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life, and Jesus returned with, ‘What do you think?’

The guy gave a great answer:

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27 NIV

Jesus told him that he hit the bullseye.

But there was a frog in his throat that he just couldn’t swallow.

Who is my neighbor?

He didn’t understand what he had so correctly quoted. He had heard it all his life, even thought that he had it right based on his confidence to answer Jesus so quickly, but he didn’t understand.

Love God and Love Others.

What about you? Do you understand?

Are you willing to loan your car to some people, but not to everyone? (This is not a driving record issue.)

Are you comfortable inviting people to worship with you but refusing to worship with them?

Are you able to forgive a stranger but not your former best friend?

Do you see the homeless man, the CEO, the single mom, the childless couple, the refugee, the different skin tone, the drug addict, and the preacher with the same eyes?

Jesus never gives an answer to the man. Instead he tells a story of overcoming fear and hatred to have mercy on another child of God. Then he says:

“Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:37 NIV

It’s time for us to do likewise as well.

 Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18 NIV

The One I Love By Leaps and Bounds

flood-989081__180True love stories never have endings. ~ Richard Bach

This little experiment has come to an end. I have spent a month daily telling people that I love and appreciate them. My family members, my friends, my church, people who serve me with their jobs, and people who wrongly assume that I only serve them have all been told that they are integral to my life. I would not be who I am without them to encourage me.

There has been no rhyme or reason to the order I posted these love letters, but I have been saving the love of my life for last. And then I had a dream last night.

I was going on a long trip, far away to somewhere like Europe. The evening before I was to leave people asked if I was packed and ready. “No, not yet.”

I watched a torrent of water rush past our house. The entire area was flooded. Matt watched me staring out at the water and said, “Don’t you go swimming in that. It’s dangerous.”

As the night wore on the water went down, but still, swift currents beckoned between two concrete walls. I walked to the water, judged the distance, and then plunged across as far as I could, swimming the last few yards.

When I climbed out of the water I knew it had been a foolish thing to do. I was lucky to be alive.

You’re confused, aren’t you? You thought this was a love letter. Yep.

I planned to write this last letter to God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, Redeemer of the Lost, Savior of the World. And I do love him above all else. But . . .

I did not plan to write it to the God of Sinners, Lord of the Lawless, and Father of the Rebellious. But, I believe, that was my dream. You see I tend to be a rebel. Not that I ride around on a Harley, smoking weed and drinking with tattooed, bearded men. No. I am a boundary rebel. Tell me I can’t go past a point and I’ll say, “Just watch me.” I take it as a challenge.

God showed me last night that rebellion can be a dangerous form of selfishness. But he also showed me that he rescues me. And that is the God I love.

The God who said, “Don’t do that,” not as a punishment or a show of his own superiority, but as a protection against my own ignorance. And when I kept pushing the envelope, when everyone kept pushing and all the glue, adhesive, and sealant could no longer hold, God came in person to take me by the hand and lead me away from the flood.

Wet, chilled, trembling, but safe.

I love you, God. You have shown me what true love really is.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16 NIV