Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep…How priceless is your unfailing love!
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
(1 Cor 13.4-8)
As human beings, we are prone to allow our moods to colour our interactions with others. If we are tired, worried or upset, it so often comes out in short-tempered interactions with others who have nothing to do with the problem! and if we realise later what happened, and go to apologise, it can be hard to restore the relationship which was damaged – because the other person is as flawed and sinful as ourselves, struggling to forgive and unable to forget. Our fluctuating moods can have serious and permanent consequences.
What a relief then to turn to the most faithful friend we have, to Jesus, who in his perfect love and insight into our hearts and minds can always see the root cause of our behaviour, and in his compassion, forgive us when we repent and return to him in sorrow. I may start the day distracted, sad, frustrated and even angry with God as I wrestle with unanswered prayers, disappointments and grief. But he meets me every morning with fresh supplies of love, and is never too busy or preoccupied to share those first moments.
My moods do not deter my faithful friend, and he waits patiently until I sit still long enough to hear his loving voice and know that all is well with my soul because he has it in safe-keeping. His love revives my spirit if I will only sit with him and let him speak to me, soaking away the bitterness of my troubles and inviting me to load them onto his strong back instead of trying to carry them alone.
While the issues may remain, the answers not yet come, still I am comforted, cleansed and restored as the Lord ministers to me, and I gratefully recognise that I need bring nothing in return. He has chosen to love me, and that is enough – the best thanks I can give is a daily joyful and humble embracing of that love and continual praise of the giver. His gift to me then becomes my gift in his name and for his sake to others. His perfect love and constant presence so abundantly meet my need that I am free to pour into the lives of others what they need. Thus I may, in small measure, be a channel of his peace and love, a source of blessing and help, a scent of Christ in my home and community. This pouring out of what I have received is a fitting expression of thanksgiving and praise, a fitting act of worship to God, who is love eternal.
I don’t have to generate some spiritual feelings before I come to my Lord’s side for comfort; I don’t need to add up some piety points before I may be bold to pray. What sweet and utter relief in knowing that he calls me in love to come – broken, tired, feeling ugly and out of sorts with everyone and especially myself, sick with disappointment and raw with grief. Anyhow, and any way, he calls me to come and to receive what he has in abundance to give me. Lord, I come….
Just as I am, though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt, fightings and fears within, without, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I am, thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; because thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
(C Elliott, 1823-1871)