John’s Revelations states that we are called to “patiently endure” the trials set before us. Those are powerful words:. PATIENTLY ENDURE. That covers a lot of life: a strained friendship, wrongful accusations, business challenges, hostility from others, disappointments. etc. Coincidentally, I also read in the Old Testament about David’s struggles. He was anointed King of all Israel, but for three years had to hide from King Saul. Then, after Saul’s death he finally became King, but only over Judah—a part of the kingdom. For six and half years he fought Saul’s heirs and supporters and then was finally crowned King of all of Hebrew nation. But for nine years he had to “patiently endure” the attempts on his life and a harried life of running and hiding—-and this was God’s chosen….. a man after God’s own heart?!
Revelation also states that God “rebukes and disciplines” those He loves. Wow! Think about how God treats those He loves and contract this with how the common mom or dad treat the children they love! God’s standard is to demand and expect more, but our standard is to expect less and tends to to excuse, explain away, and shield from rebuke those we love. (I often think that if God truly does rebuke and discipline those He loves that I must be His favorite!)
Funny how in our perverse comprehension of family and “love”, we fail to treat those we love in true “love”, i.e. God’s love or “Agape” Love—-which is the highest love and is defined as “one-sided love—-i.e. I will love you TOTALLY regardless of the love you give back to me. When I fail in a relationship or as a parent, it’s because I fail to love in this manner. As long as I am looking for love in return or I am afraid to lose reciprocal love, I am not loving as God loves me. Loving with no demand or expectation of returned affection is a mark of spiritual maturity and the abundant life He wants us to enjoy. It’s a life of trusting Him to return to us HIS overflowing love if we simply trust Him to fill our need and desire to be loved.
As I think of ALL the heroes and heroines of the Bible, I am struck at how ALL suffered and found themselves misunderstood and alone at times. And yet something external and supernatural gave them the superlative strength and knowledge and drive and determination to NOT GIVE UP. I do not want to lose friendships, or family or son, or a camp, but I must be willing to abandon ALL of this if it comes to choosing between my relationship with the Son and ANYTHING else. That is the source of joy and the abundant life. The rest is chasing after rainbows.