I’m often amazed at how God uses the ordinary to teach extraordinary lessons. While watering the cattle after feeding, I was enjoying the peaceful view and solitude of the morning’s hush. As the cattle finished up “breakfast” and began moving about, I noticed “Lulu Belle” and “Mavric” coming alongside one another. Knowing she was already pregnant, I knew this wasn’t a conjugal visit. What I didn’t expect was the lesson God had prepared for me.
As my cows strolled across the pasture, they stopped and “Lulu” began what I can only describe as lovingly cleaning “Mavric’s” ears and his neck with her abrasive tongue. I mused, He must have an itch, as he lowed softly at her ministrations. Now I’ve seen cattle clean each other’s head and ears before, but that morning’s actions seemed different. In the past, I’d laugh about it because while “Mavric” can stick his massive tongue up his own nose and lick his eyebrows, he can’t lick behind his ears.
Whether it was “Lulu’s” motherly instincts or something else, she continued licking and cleaning her sire for several minutes. As the stock tank was silently filling, my heart whispered, what manner of love is this. Watching “Lulu” care for her herd mate reminded me of how not that long ago she cleaned her twin calves (“Emma” and “Rose”) in the same way. I couldn’t escape the overwhelming feeling I was viewing an act of sacrificial love.
First John 3:1 reads, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” Watching my pasture pals show love and kindness toward one another, I felt convicted by how often I fall short of this sacrificial, agape love that John wrote about. It’s a love that puts the needs of others before your own. As humans, we too often see love as transactional. I will love you, but only after you have shown me love. God’s love doesn’t work that way.
John 3:16 reminds us that God loved us so much that He surrendered His place in heaven to come be with us. He taught us how we can be redeemed from our sinful life through our faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus gave His life not for an individual or select group, but as a sacrifice for all humanity. He did this while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). THIS is the depth of God’s love for us. And this is the love we, as God’s children, must show in our lives.Do we show God’s love to the world around us? Click To Tweet
In teaching His disciples, Jesus Christ shared this verse. “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12). Throughout the New Testament, we read examples of how God in the flesh (Jesus) sacrificially loved those around Him. He patiently taught us through parables; and He was a living example of how we are to live with, and love, one another. God’s love is not transactional, nor is it reserved only for other Christians or members of our immediate family (both physical and spiritual). It is a love so powerful that once we have it in us, it becomes an endless supply that spills over into everything we say and do.
My adopted mama showed me in my teens what God’s love looks like when put into action. She was a gregarious little woman who never met a stranger; greeting the world with a smile and a kind word. Many years later, God used another sweet little woman to do the same thing. Ms. Mary at our church shows me what it means to love like God every time I see her. It doesn’t matter if we meet in a hallway, in the sanctuary, or on a street corner. It doesn’t matter if we’re at a formal dinner function or she’s busily cleaning up a mess others left behind. When she sees me, she stops what she’s doing, opens her arms, flashes a bright smile, and comes in for a hug.
As she’s embracing you tightly, she seems to stand up on her tippy toes and proclaims, “I love you.” I can promise you this. Anyone who has ever met Ms. Mary in person and receives a “Mary hug” will not leave feeling the same way as you did before the encounter. Both her words and her actions permeate your soul; and in them you can literally feel God’s love coursing through her. I walk away from every encounter with dear Ms. Mary, thinking, I want to love like that Lord.
Among my dad’s many wise sayings, “You get what you give” is one I’ll always hold as a treasure in my heart. In his simple way, he paraphrased another of Christ’s teachings, found in Luke 6:38.
“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure,
pressed down, shaken together, and running over
will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure
that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
As we near the day of celebration for the arrival of God’s great gift of love to us, let us endeavor to show God to the world through our love. As 1 John 3:1 tells us, many won’t understand us because they don’t know God. It is exactly this difference that we need the world to see more of these days. Of the many things I’ve learned in this life, knowing that I can never out-give or out-love God is chief among them. In case I miss you next week, please have a very Merry CHRISTmas and remember that both God and I love you very much.
Please join me each Thursday evening at 9:30 Eastern as host Coach Mark Prasek and I take a trip Around the Cross-Dubya on PJNET TV. We discuss this week’s blog post, offer insight about the lessons learned, and enjoy the fellowship of friends in the live chat room.