Love, like Grace, always costs the giver [part 2]

If you didn’t read yesterday’s post, please go back there before reading on, or this won’t really make much sense.

I guess the Holy Spirit decided I needed a trail of frikkin bread crumbs to this idea so I wouldn’t miss it, so my weekend journey through Love continued….

*****

Weirdest thing happened on Saturday. We attended the wedding of people we totally didn’t know.

Rest easy, we haven’t taken up wedding crashing. Greg Skipper, the director of Calvary Home, was officiating at the quickly-planned wedding of a couple he knows …. I still haven’t gotten all the story yet, but I gather that a couple who have been together for several years decided to get married. Greg said in his email inviting people to please come attend the wedding and celebrate this couple, that they had recently come back to the Lord.

Cool. Weddings should be celebrations, and anybody who wants to make a go of it the right way (which is the harder way, but the better way) deserves to be supported. So we put on our nice clothes, found a card, and headed over (despite Coart’s cold).

Part of the wedding included the usual reading of 1 Corinthians 13. It is a passage I love. Normally I tune out the reader somewhat and try to remember the passage as I memorized it in the King James, because the language is so beautiful. But my linguistic archaeology was interrupted this time by these arresting words:

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;

I had spent much of this past week being irritated and resentful.

Oh, hell.

*****

If you know us in person here in SC, you’ve probably heard that things are a little crowded at the house these days. A family in our church lost their house (rental) back in August and nothing opened up. It’s a big family. We all kept expecting something to open up for them, like it always had.

But it didn’t. So that’s why on a Monday in mid-August I found myself trying to haul everything out of two or three rooms of our house to make room for 5 people to move in. *gulp* Within a month, we had three more, and I have officially declared our house FULL. If I could find one of those lighted No Vacancy signs for the front window, I’d put it up for chuckles.

Sometimes people want to be impressed. They say things like, “I could never do that. You guys are awesome people. You’re living the Gospel.” And while I appreciate the attempt to stroke my spiritual ego or tempt me toward self-righteousness and arrogance, the truth is — the past 4 months have mostly served as a big fat billboard pointing to just how selfish and irritable and resentful I am.

I think it’s easy to grit teeth and “do the right thing” because you feel obligated.

If loving people, if living like Christ lived, if showing Grace to others because I myself have been forgiven for so much — if that were easy, we’d all be doing it. Poor people would be taken care of, orphans would be adopted, the foster system would have enough caregivers, hungry folks would eat. The solutions to social problems like poverty will be through relationship — not through shifting the burden of the cost of care from the church to the government, or from the state back to individuals. The “cost” in terms of dollars isn’t the point at all.

The “cost” is personal.

Grace costs the giver.

The truth of myself that I must face when I grumble inwardly that there are small socks on the floor, when one of the visiting cats races across the end table and knocks everything off, when the microwave looks like someone exploded a burrito inside — the truth is, I love my house more than I love people. And that’s wrong. People are more important than things (another one of my mantras).

I love my own comfort, my sense of peace, my desire for organization, a quiet house, no fingerprints on the glass doors, an open guest bathroom more than people.

And it’s wrong.

I can’t tell you why God hasn’t given the Kueblers a house yet. I don’t wish it for our sakes; they’re the ones who are trying to cram 7 people into two small bedrooms. Have you ever been homeless? Probably not. Have you ever had to hang on God’s very provision just to eat? Yeah, me either. I want the K’s to get a house and stock it with tons of food so the teenagers can eat as much as they want without fear of running out of food before the month ends. I want for them to feel the warmth of stability, so the kids grow up without the fear of people walking out on them or abandoning them. I want Jane to have the space to be as hospitable as she would like to be, all the time, without the physical contraints of our house.

But *I* need them.

Rich blessings come from God’s hand when we walk in His ways and surrender to the brick-to-the-head moments of sanctification. Having the Kuebler clan join us for these past 4 months has been rewarding, gracious, and enlightening. I find myself praying one of my most-used prayers from the Gospels, “Lord, I believe. Please help my unbelief.”

It is in these moments when we die to self and choose to love others truly and with open hands, as God loved us — not demanding a reward or a return on the investment — that we grow to understand more of our Father’s heart. We love only because He first loved us. God proves that He loves us because, when we were total failures — when we ARE total failures — Christ died for us.

Back to Mass Effect mom from yesterday — I think she “gets it.”

Sometimes Grace shines out from the most unexpected places

PS. By the way – The Kueblers still need a house. This is bigger than what they could ever attain on their own, so we’d all appreciate it if you’d pray for God to kick someone in the butt who has the means to provide them a real place to live to get on that and do it.

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