It’s pretty hectic out there in the world these days.
Maybe you feel like the frenzy that characterizes these days we live in is unprecedented, and the volume of fear and uncertainty feels daunting.
Maybe you are like me, and you feel like there is nothing new under the sun, and the story of humanity has been marked by violence and chaos since the first bite of the apple.
Maybe you feel yourself sliding into a state of disillusionment and apathy.
Maybe you are plugging your ears and closing your eyes tight so that you can experience some reprieve from what feels like a constant deluge of bad news.
Maybe you are in need of some good news. I know that I am.
When I was small, my father was my Sunday School teacher. Anyone who knows John Swan knows that he’s a man who believes in bribing children with donuts and silver dollars to memorize scripture. He is also known for creating a wild rumpus with songs that tell the story of Peter walking around healing people in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth and the story of Jesus the Rock that rolls our blues away.
The Bible verses I memorized with donuts in mind and the songs I sang as a means of relinquishing the wiggles still echo in my mind on days when I feel lost and estranged from hope. One song he taught me was based on 1 John 4:7-8…
Beloved, let us love one another. For love is of God, and anyone who loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is Love.
So, in honor of my father and the Bible stories and songs that he taught me as a child, here are my 5 Ways to Remember God’s love…
1. Consult the B-I-B-L-E. The Bible is a narrative that tells the story of God’s great love and humanity’s great propensity to forget about love. There are SO many passages that speak about love and hope, and the peace that surpasses all understanding which comes from having faith in the God, the source of love. Here are a few of my favorites…
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:6-7
But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. John 13:34-35
2. Remember the saints. When I start to feel weary and love seems like an abstract concept or an ambiguous hollow response to the world’s wounds, I remember people who have lived a life dedicated to loving others and I am encouraged to have some faith. The most profound example, being Jesus Christ who welcomed the disgraceful, cared for the wounded, extended mercy to the accused, and ultimately surrendering His life as a display of God’s great love for people. Other people who have lived and are living their lives with great love include Desmond TuTu, Father Greg Boyle, Mother Teresa, Amy Carmichael, Carmen Salles Barangueras, Giovanni Battista Piamarta and SO SO SO many others. Go on a treasure hunt on the interwebs, and be encouraged!
3. Take note of redemptive work that is happening. I am the sort of human that finds herself paralyzed by all the bad and sad news out there. I hibernate, and then before you know it, I get up and resort to living a very small, self-focused life because I’m scared that if I take a good look around, the scale of the world’s pain will overwhelm and crush me. It’s humbling and encouraging to hear the ways that a few rebellious people who choose to hold onto hope and work together can foster healing and redemption in the here and now. I recently heard about a free prom organized by a church in my hometown honoring students with special needs called A Night to Remember. Watch the video, get all misty-eyed, have a little faith restored to your soul. Another beautiful thing my friend shared with me is an organization that equips trauma care providers with arts-based tools and training to serve survivors of abuse, violence and disaster, First Aid Arts. Good things happen all the time.
4. Take part in the redemptive work that is happening. I’m sure that there is something good happening in your community. There’s room for you! Maybe I’m the only one, but sometimes I think the worst of myself and I think that my brokenness is going to taint and ruin the beautiful and good things I interact with. Jesus says, “Guess what? There’s room for you. I use the weak and the blind and those who need mercy to show mercy and love“ (Hayley’s paraphrase). Get in there! See God’s love do mysterious, healing, beautiful things in real life! Look for the places where God has been present. Get a glimpse of the residue of his glory. Be transformed.
5. Look for God’s love notes in nature. There’s a David Crowder song called Here is Our King, which opens with the lyrics, “From wherever spring arrives to heal the ground…Here is our King, Here is our love, Here is our God who’s come to bring us back to Him.” Those words have echoed in my heart in days where I have felt marooned in the middle of a wintery place. Life comes from the dirt. Beauty does come from ashes. Butterflies come from fuzzy, crawly, caterpillars. Life comes from teeny tiny seeds. There are beautiful whales out in the ocean swimming around singing songs all the time. Surely God is with us. Emmanuel, making all things new.
INVEST IN YOUR GOD-GIVEN GIFTS AND SPIRITUAL GROWTH
Your Gifts: Spiritual Gifts Discovery
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Here are more free articles, excerpted from the book Your Gifts shown above, one for each of the nine Team Ministry Spiritual Gifts…
- Do You Have the Spiritual Gift of Shepherding?
- Do You Have the Spiritual Gift of Administration?