Saturday, October 21, 2017

When You Don't Have Enough Love for the Job Ahead


Today is day 12, the half-way mark of my trip. There've been some issues that have been agonizingly hard. A few tasks I wasn't sure I could do. Some jobs I didn't want to do even one more time, because they were so difficult. 

Because of the sweet companionship of our Holy Spirit, however, I've found my way through. I've done those hard, unwanted tasks anyway, though not always well. I've persevered, and it has had nothing at all to do with me, and everything to do with the Lord I serve.

I've also learned an important lesson that I should've known, but seem to have forgotten in the heat of battle. 

Love must prevail.

"If I speak with the tongues of man and of angels," Paul wrote, "but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal."(1) 

I've spent some time clanging this week, and it wasn't a pretty sound. 

The material I presented to the school students included numerous new English science words, most of which would be on their upcoming exam. They needed what I had to give, because a test was coming, and they would fail without it. 

A few of the students in the classrooms, however, were rowdy and undisciplined. They wouldn't sit down or listen. It made it impossible for the quiet students to hear or learn. Most of the time, I didn't have an interpreter, which made it even more difficult for the students and for me.

I grew more frustrated with every 40-minute session, and it didn't take long for that frustration to push out the love I felt for those sweet children. I wasn't unkind to the students, and I didn't stop doing good work, but the heart with which I served wasn't right. 

I repented every day of feeling frustrated. I prayed nonstop to find a better way. I did all I knew to do, and begged God for wisdom. I parked myself in Scripture while I searched for an answer.

The passage on love I'd memorized as a child came back to me, and it had the truth I needed. "If I do not have love, I am nothing."(2) I tried that bit of truth on for size, and it pinched badly. 

The problem in those classrooms wasn't a lack of teaching skills. It wasn't a lack of interesting material. The problem wasn't even children that wouldn't stop talking and sit down. 

The real problem was a lack of love in Leanna that made it impossible to win the spiritual battle behind the classroom difficulty. 

The only solution was repentance and surrender, and it made more of a difference than I expected. 

My surrender to love allowed me to remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood. When I recalled the real enemy, I knew how to fight, and I did. The sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, is stronger than we realize. It's alive and powerful, and it did its work in me, first of all.(3) 

When I saw the people I serve through the eyes of a loving Father, I was ashamed of my lack of love for them. When His love flooded through me again, I was overwhelmed by its magnitude and how it changed everything about the dreaded forty-minute classes. 

Were the students different? Not really.

Was my teaching style better? Not really.

What changed was my attitude about teaching, and it made all the difference. When a roomful of 6th graders crowded around to hug me after class, I had to blink back tears. 

Love changes everything. And it did. 

Serving as Christ served is only possible when love is our starting point, for that's where He began His service to us. BECAUSE God so loved...He SENT His Son to SAVE. The "send and save" part of the mission of Christ that gives us eternal life was only possible because of God's great love.

As disciples of Jesus, we must have love to serve with it, and only God can give what we need, for He is love. Do you face a dreaded task filled with difficult people? Don't ask God to change your circumstances. Ask for more of His love. 

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 niv

(1) 1 Cor. 13:1     (2) 1 Cor. 13:2     (3) Heb. 4:12
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There are so many stories I'd like to share with you about this amazing journey, but they can only be shared in person. I'll do another brunch (like last time) to allow an opportunity for story-sharing, but I'm also happy to share with groups. Message me to schedule a time.

p.s. - the photo is of the city at night.
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In case you missed the most recent post, here's the link: What  I Gained from the Sermon I Couldn't Translate

If you feel led to partner with this ministry, here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 

You can also mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.