1 Corinthians 13 tells us very clearly what love is. The one attribute of love that is particularly poignant to me currently is love’s persistent perseverance. Verse 7 says that Love always perseveres. If our love for others and the Lord are lacking in any of the required ingredients, then our love isn’t really love. In the past, I’m sure that my love has not always persevered. I’m not even sure it endured much. I wonder if the future holds much better.
One does not persevere during times of comfort and peace. According to its definition, perseverance is practiced only during times of trials. So, when the verse says love always perseveres, it is saying that love continues to be patient, kind and hopeful no matter how difficult the situation. And, if we are truly loving God and others then there surely will be difficult times. If my love doesn’t persevere then it is nothing, and therefore, I am nothing – see verse 3. Ouch!
I think it is safe to say that our family is learning about perseverance. We have no doubt experienced some trying times in the past few months. But, while we are learning how to be perseverant in our love, we are also seeing that 1 John 4:16 is true. God is love. If He is love, then He persists and perseveres in His love for us.
We have taken the approach that we must be blatantly honest on our blog about our life and ministry. It is the only way that we know to stay connected with you and therefore with God via your intercession for our family. And, we know how impactful your prayers are for us. So, as we shared some of the trial of recent times, God has loved us by providing encouragement and a certainty of His promise to never leave or forsake us.
The byproduct of His love for us through His protection and your propitiation for us is a strengthening of our faith. Our love for the lost, for the people of the Middle East and North Africa, for those who need an advocate is becoming more capable of persevering. Our resolve for following the Lord into potentially uncomfortable places and relationships is becoming more solid.
This is an amazing journey made possible only through the perseverant love of the Father. It wasn’t very long ago (weeks) where I found myself shaking in fear when presented with a challenge by the enemy. My faith was weak. My ability to persevere as firm as fog. The Lord took this opportunity to demonstrate that His love and His promises are indeed a firm foundation. Because He is there, pressing on in love for us, we can now be bold in our witness, in our love and our defiance of the lies of the enemy. Our Abba Father has proven to truly be – love fulfilled.
Because He is love in its entirety, how should we live? I’ve been reminded of the answer to this by a book that I am just finishing. It has probably been the most challenging, thought provoking book I’ve ever read apart from the Bible. I will share the title with you via private email, if you are interested – just send me a note. The title alone could attract a bit of negative attention on a public blog. Anyway, one of the last chapters talks about martyrdom. Now this subject typically elicits a desire to do anything but keep reading. The book does refer to the life ending drastic act that sometimes accompanies ministry in many places in the world. This is simply a fact of being a follower of Christ in a world that hates Him and His followers. But, short of this dramatic ending, there is an aspect of martyrdom that is the appropriate response to the Love that died on a cross and then rose again. To give you an idea what I’m referring to, here’s an excerpt:
Martyrdom is not glorious. Martyrdom is not merely enduring great amounts of pain. Martyrdom is also not merely dying gracefully. Martyrdom is utter embarrassment, shame, confusion and absolute turmoil beyond what most have ever experienced. For me personally, it does not take very long before even the mildest of difficult circumstances in my life moves me to begin complaining to God and giving myself over to sinful attitudes. So how does one prepare his or her heart for martyrdom? We begin today. Martyrdom is not a one-time event. Martyrdom is identification with Jesus on the cross. And taking up our cross is supposed to be a daily exercise.
Then Jesus said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
Isn’t that what we signed up for? A lifelong exercise of daily dying to ourselves, living for the glory of God and not our own? We cannot expect to walk according to our own ways today and yet expect to die for God tomorrow. Martyrdom is something that we need to begin living now.
So, as we have gone from a weakened state of faith and fear to a place of absolute certainty of the love of God, His power and His already declared victory, we face the coming year with a renewed energy to truly love. We know God more. We fear much less. Our identity is that of those constantly striving to die to ourselves and to this world. We commit to live only for His purposes and Kingdom because He first loved us. After all, the King of the Kingdom died for us long before we even knew of Him. While we don’t know what trials lie ahead, we know our desire is to press on in perseverant love.
Thank you for praying us through to the truth!
P.S. The kids are doing very well. Calvin is resting peacefully. Elisa is healthy and has no further signs of fainting. Praise God!