I am in a season of writing so much less than last year. It’s good! It has given me more time to be introspective. This season is especially important as our family on my Mom’s side has experienced 2 deaths within 3 weeks as well as the impending death of my own Mother as she lays in hospice waiting for God to take her home. We began this process with a diagnosis no one wants to hear last year. I believe in healing and inner healing so watching my Mom slowly decline has been difficult. It has been a comfort to remind myself that even Smith Wigglesworth could not save his own wife as she was dying. If you aren’t familiar with the man, he had many miraculous healings as well as resurrections under his belt in the name of Jesus. All glory to God. The Lord knows when is best for people to return back to their original home and how that will impact those around them for the ultimate good (even though difficult), if they/we will allow it.
Even my running schedule has suffered greatly as I travel back and forth weekly to another state to relieve my sisters/niece, and take shifts with my Mom. I wouldn’t trade that time for the world. It has been sweet, frustrating, exhausting, miraculous, and most of all it has been raw and real. Having lost 2 other women in our family this month has produced some good fruit as well as sorrow. It has brought this whole side of family closer together. We have had long talks in hospital rooms. We have reunited over the phone. We have spoken daily/weekly and reminded each other that we love each other. We have embraced our differences on a new level. As in most families, we are all so unique and after having grown up, have gone in many different directions. Some of us have remained in town and some have left to make a home elsewhere. Some have remained in the faith and others seem to be having a crisis of faith.
In times like these is when you see the beautiful fruit being produced in people lives as a result of the trial. There are many personalities involved in a family dynamic. Often in a crisis, there are many decisions to be made and people to please. I am so glad that my mom has left her wishes and directives in writing. In all of this I have been contemplating love (what God commands us to do) versus tolerance (what the world tells us we should do).
So what is the difference? Tolerance means: a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry. The act or capacity of enduring; endurance: i.e. my tolerance for noise is limited.
Love means so much more. Here is an excerpt from compellingtruth.org:
Agape love is different. It is not a feeling; it’s a motivation for action that we are free to choose or reject. Agape is a sacrificial love that voluntarily suffers inconvenience, discomfort, and even death for the benefit of another without expecting anything in return. We are called to agape love through Christ’s example: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2).
We are to agapao God (Matthew 22:37), our neighbor (Matthew 22:39), and even our enemies (Matthew 5:43-46). We are not to agapao money (Matthew 6:24), darkness (John 3:19), or men’s approval (John 12:43). The New Testament has over two-hundred references to agape love.
In crisis or even when everything is good, we need to do so much more than just tolerate people and be tolerant of them. We need to agape them! I have learned so much about myself and my family since that diagnosis last Summer. I have learned to truly listen until I am hearing the other person’s heart on a whole other level than I had prior to this experience. I can choose to just be tolerant of other’s opinions, wishes, expectations, beliefs, etc. or I can choose to lay down my own desires and embrace inconvenience, discomfort, and also stay silent and just listen until I completely understand that person’s heart. It’s not that important if anyone ever really understands our/my heart. It’s nice, but what’s really important is that God knows and understands all of our hearts.
As I look at tolerance vs love, I can see why the secular world is becoming a colder place to exist. Tolerance can only go so far until the need to be right and force your way on everyone else rears it’s ugly head producing violence, censorship and hatred. True agape love, however, sees the best in people, hopes for the best and still loves in spite of the differences. Agape love speaks the truth (in a loving, accurate manner) and will not endorse sin, hatred and injustice. Sounds easy, right? But it will cost you something…….yourself. It’s a lifelong journey to give ourselves up and love like Christ loves us. These last 9 months have produced some good fruit in my own walk. I have been forced to take a look at places of tolerance and allow God to turn them into offerings of love.
For the Kingdom,