Is Your Love Based on Conditions?

I am learning to love unconditionally, but damn, it. is. hard.

My focus is on the love God has for me. God loves me even though I cursed that asshole on the highway. God loves me even though I thought poorly of a friend. God loves me even when I skipped reading my bible so that I could eat waffles while surfing Facebook.

God’s love for me is unconditional.

But I am tempted daily to put constraints on my love. I say that I love, but in reality, I often only love when conditions are met. Act this way, believe in these things, become like this, and then I will love you.

How silly of me.

If God can love me for me, why can’t i love people for who they are?

I hope that I can become the kind of person who just loves.

 

I Forgot My Phone

DAVID & HIS WIFE.

This one is a bit scattered. Forgive me, I’m a bit rattled.

 

We were knocking on doors, hoping that people would open up to receive a meal and talk. Most doors remained closed, and many people didn’t feel comfortable talking to strangers who wanted to pray for them.

But David was different. He came to us. He walked feebly down the hall wearing a wrinkled tshirt, his shoulders hunched, and his face marked with weary.

“You haven’t come to room 419 have you?”

“No, not yet. But we can give you a meal right now.”

He shuffled over to us to get some food, and it was very apparent that this man was hurting. We asked his name, and a few questions, and the floodgates of his very soul opened. He believes in God, but his wife does not. She’s in their room, asleep, dying from cancer. The very bed she sleeps on may very well be her deathbed. He went on to tell us about how fearful she is of death, and unreceptive of God or any talk of Him.

and with those words he wept. Standing in the hallway, fellow brothers and sisters that he had just met standing around him. The tears streamed down his face, and the sorrow poured from him and swept through us stirring our spirits. We did all we could think to do. We bowed our heads to our almighty God, and prayed for this man and his wife. We prayed for strength and support. We prayed that she would come to know Jesus. We prayed with everything we had.

days later, and tears are still in my eyes as I think back on David and his wife. GOD HEAL THIS WOMAN. OPEN HER EYES TO THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS. YOU ARE THE LOVING FATHER. YOU ARE THE GREAT REDEEMER.

Guys, we hold a pearl. The gospel is an absolute gem. We know that a life with Jesus is a life of love, peace, healing, and strength. We know that our God heals. We know that our God pursues. We know that when you come to Jesus you go from DEATH to LIFE. This is what we know to be true.

But here we are (or is it just me?), praying for an “opportunity” and an “open door” to talk to our coworkers, to share with our neighbors, to witness to our relatives. Guys, the door is OPEN now. The opportunity is here now. You’re not a stranger to these people. These people know you. Don’t let fear control you. Open your mouth and let the good news come out.

But what if they reject me or the gospel?

Well, Jesus (the one we follow) opened his mouth to share the good news and was nailed to a cross. They hung him out to die, because they rejected him. Think about this. If the creator of the universe was REJECTED, do you think that you won’t be? Prepare yourself, because people will reject Jesus. But we can hope and pray that there will be times when the words of goodness and truth will hit a person like a breath of fresh air and transform their life. And that, my friends, is a moment of great rejoicing. I don’t know about you, but I would rather proclaim the gospel a thousand times and be rejected a thousand times than know that I didn’t at least attempt to help the dead receive life.

the INVITATION

“I get the invitation every morning when I wake up to actually live a life of complete engagement, a life of whimsy, a life where love does. It doesn’t come in an envelope. It’s ushered in by a sunrise, the sound of a bird or the smell of coffee drifting lazily from the kitchen. It’s the invitation to actually live, to fully participate in this amazing life for one more day. Nobody turns down an invitation to the White House, but I’ve seen plenty of people turn down an invitation to fully live…”

Bob Goff, Love Does

Packing for Camping

I am convinced that I could go camping every weekend, and every week take off feeling like I left something behind. I make lists of everything I need, and then lay gear on my bed to look it over. I scratch things off the list, and imagine what will happen on the trip. Will i be swimming? Do I need a fork? What will hold the trash?

And when I’m fairly certain I have everything I pack the bag, then unpack the bag, then pack the bag again. At some point I’ll question whether I packed a toothbrush and so I’ll dig around until I find it.

There’s never a moment where I breathe and think “Yes! I have everything!”Instead I keep wondering what I left until I’m deep in the woods thirsty for water, and realize that I didn’t bring any.

One of these days I’ll remember everything.

maybe.

probably not.

Regular Days.

My coworker and I visited the local supply store to pick up heavy duty germicidals (read: lysol). The store was surprisingly disheveled for a store that sells products that promise cleanliness. But to make a fair assessment, the store could have been clean from dirt and grime even though it had a messy appearance. The man behind the counter had a dark mouth, and I couldn’t get a close enough look to see whether he was missing teeth or they were badly stained. I always wonder about the toothless and how they lost their teeth. I’m not as curious about stained teeth. The man was nice, and directed us to liquids that would kill and eliminate stains and stenches.

Afterwards we went to Burger King so that my coworker could get dinner. He offered to pay for food for me, but I declined. He insisted, and I compromised with a small chocolate shake. We waited for 8 minutes in the drive-thru, which is practically an eternity when you’re waiting for a milkshake. I listened to Rick talk about theories on curing cancer while we waited, but my mind was preoccupied on whether I should turn my truck off or not.

Isn’t the globe warming up? Should I turn my car off? What if the moment I turn the car off, the vehicle in front of me pulls up so I have to turn it back on? How much money in gas am I wasting right now?

Eventually we got our food, and I never did turn the car off. I gulped down the shake in a matter of moments, and Rick casually ate his burger  in a matter of many many many moments.

This was today July 24, 2013.

At the beginning of each day I ask God to bless my day and guide me by his holy spirit. I pray this prayer thinking that God may use me on this day to save a baby from the top of a burning skyscraper or that he’ll place me in a situation in which I can share the gospel to a stranger or that he’ll finally let me win that jackpot lottery.

But in reality, most days are like today. Regular days in which he wants me to love on my coworkers and the guy who works at the supply store. Regular days in which I need to be patient waiting for a milkshake. Regular days that may not be full of burning skyscrapers and soul winning, but are nonetheless days that He is guiding me through.

You Can’t Stop Love

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Who am I? The one crying out for much-needed mercy or the crowd that goes around telling people to shush?

The story ends with Jesus hearing the man’s cry and giving the man sight. I love the final picture we get of the once-blind beggar. He’s now following & praising Jesus. He now can see. He no longer needs to beg. Life is not what it once was. He follows. He praises.

It is those who are deeply transformed by the extravagant grace of Jesus Christ that will not be silent. You can’t stop the man who once was blind from telling how God incarnate changed his life. You can’t stop the man/woman who is keenly aware of his/her brokenness and yet God in His grace loves all the same. It’s an unconditional, unflinching, reckless love that moves people to say and do wild things for their invisible God.

Let God’s love & grace & mercy move you into a life that follows and praises Him.

The Best Sandals in the World.

These puppies were my cycling shoes from Monterey to San Luis. They clasped to my feet during soccer matches in Uganda, and protected my soles on the river banks of France. They were my sure footing in sand, mud, water, and dirt. They saw me through college, and were my footwear in the concrete jungle of San Francisco, the beaches of California, and the forests of Santa Cruz.

These rainbow sandals were humble pieces of many adventures, stories, and tales. Camping trips, bike rides, job interviews, surf excursions, parties, and everything in between. Everyone has their favorite sandal, but these are mine. A single strap to bind foot and leather. Freeing.

The magic of these rainbows drained out in a final tromp down the side of a rocky mountain. My feet sunk deep under the earth and while yanking a foot out, the power of the rainbow left this pair. A tragic and heroic ending to a fantastic piece of footwear.

RIP old rainbows. thanks for being super useful.

GUN BOWLING

Send Me Here or Here, but Definitely Not There

I just wanted to go back to Africa.

God, send me back to the land of smiling faces, red dirt, and evening soccer matches. I am your servant. I will go right now.

and in that moment, in that prayer, as clear as could be He spoke into the depth of my soul.

Go to Salinas. Go to the gangs. I want the Gangs. I love them.

What?! This isn’t what is supposed to happen! You were supposed to tell me to sell my possessions and move overseas! You were supposed to tell me to love the kids of Uganda! You were supposed to send me somewhere exotic and beautiful!

But move to my hometown? You want me to go to the familiar, the known? The place that I was born? The town that suffers from a culture of violence, poverty and racism? You want me to go there? Really God?

It’s been months now since that prayer, since that morning when God spoke to me. I’m learning that what we want (even if it has good intentions) is not always what God wants for us. Following God is a daily act of trust. It’s saying I don’t understand, I don’t get, I don’t want, I don’t know, but I will still follow.

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