Over and over again these words echo in my mind. I believe them to be a word from God, a message whispered again and again by the Holy Spirit…trying to speak to the deepest part of me. They first came on a Sunday morning a few weeks back. I had known for months that my brother had cancer but I was not supposed to have that information. At last things had become critical and the news that he was near death came to me from an outside source and I could finally acknowledge the truth I had known for months. Both of his daughters were by his side and I contacted them to let them know that I was aware of them and their pain. In the course of texting back and forth they indicated I was welcome to come.
For most people it would seem like a no brainer to get in the car and make the 80 mile trip to visit a brother. But I had not seen my brother in over ten years and my nieces in probably over thirty years. The family relationships were fractured and there had been much conflict through the years. Still I felt strongly that this was something I needed to do so I set out on a journey with little else than the confidence I was doing the right thing.
As I drove, I thought and I prayed and admittedly I worried. I worried about what I might be getting myself into, about how it might impact me emotionally. Already I had lost a cousin a few months back and I was watching my Aunt’s health decline rapidly and my grief was deep even before this. Would he be alive when I got there? How would he receive me? While we had not been at odds with each other for the last years, still there had been no contact. Would he welcome me or be angry that I came? How would my nieces receive me? Would I really be welcome or were they just being polite? Would I encounter my older brother that I have not seen in many years and with whom my last contact had been an angry conversation? All these questions and emotions surrounded me as I drove and I prayed and I asked “why am I doing this?” And that is when the words came “love does”…..They seemed to make some sense at the moment and I tucked them away as some sort of reassurance and comfort as I sped toward this unknown encounter.
In the days and weeks since then the words continue to echo in my mind. Love does, love does…..I admit I am not totally sure what they mean or what the Spirit is trying to say to me but I am trying to hear. In our fast paced, over committed, busy world it seems we have lost that personal touch, that being present type of reaching out. Social media allows us to send a wish, express condolences or joy in mere seconds without ever leaving our computer. We use the words I love (fill in the blank) so easily. In other circles we say “I love you”, “Love you” or “Love you all” with frequency. Being the ever serious and analytical person I am, I wonder…what does that mean? Does it mean “I wish you well” or “I wish you no harm”? Is it enough to “phone in” our feelings or does it require something more? Am I willing to lay down my life for another, for anyone? What does love look like in day to day life?
I had a conversation with a friend once about service and sacrifice and he said that sacrifice is not sacrifice if it does not cost you something. I think about that often these days. When did I do something for someone that it cost me something? Something I wanted to do, sleep, giving up my own needs? I am not sure I know. What I do know is that these words continue to echo in my mind and my heart and I want to learn what they mean. I do not want to simply speak love, I want to live it. I believe that it is the doing, not the feeling or the speaking that God calls me to.
1 John 3:18 American Standard Version (ASV)
My Little children, let us not love in word, neither with the tongue; but in deed and truth.
And so I keep praying and keep asking God to show me what these words mean and what He wants me to do with them.