There are moments in life that burn instant images in our mind.
And most recently, the images from Austria where A 42 year old woman is now free… after 24 years of captivity and abuse by her own father.
These horrors remind us of the power we have been given to choose life or death…and to impose our decisions on others.
Horrible images like these aren’t usually created by an instant decision. They are made over time. Moment by moment. Day by Day. Year by year. When we decide to treat someone as “less than” in one moment…it becomes easier the next. When we feel that our wants and desires are more important than anyone else’s – anyone else is just in the way.
We have the gift of free-will…but with that freedom there’s a price. Casting Crowns has a song that says, “It’s a slow fade, when you give yourself away…It’s a slow fade, when black and white are turned to gray…thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid, when you give yourself away…people never crumble in a day….it’s a slow fade”.
But what happens when we give OF ourselves?. When we give OF ourselves a little bit at a time, GOOD things happen.
Looking at our children when they speak to us, instead of staring at the computer.
Visiting a friend who needs us, even though it’s a little out of the way.
Choosing to pray for and love our enemies – and refusing to hate them.
When we pore ourselves into serving others and make the moment by moment, day by day and year by year decisons to LOVE as we have been LOVED… then beautiful images are created. Those “small” decision prepare us for the big ones.
Those are the moments we want to remember. Those are the moments we want burned on our mind. Images of love, beauty, kindess, gentleness and self-sacrifice.
Two days ago, my husband sat at our dining room table with our 10 year old, KB. He was hunched at the table, eyebrows scrunched together, mouth held “just so”, fingers cramping…trying his best to fold a tiny square of paper into a “water lily”.
The sound of my daughter’s giggles filled the house as she watched her dad press, fold and fold again. When he finally finished the square (after 15 or so minutes), he proudly announced. “There! It’s perfect!”
“Good job, Dad!” KB grinned. “Only 2 more to go!”
It took him another 45 minutes or so — but he finished it. The paper flower will eventually fade and crumble, but the love he shared by spending time with his daughter won’t.
When we say, “I love you”, love is a verb, an action word! The Lord has loved us with that kind of love. His love has been in action since before the foundation of the world and has continued moment by moment, hour by hour, year by year.
Consider this: “If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care – then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” Philippians 2: 1-4 (to read the whole chapter, click here)
So, what can we do today to love each other with that kind of love? What images will be burned in our minds today? What will we choose?