Last week was the weirdest week. One moment I was flying high on the revelation of Jesus Christ himself. Wednesday, my quiet time was explosive! Throughout the day, I had the opportunity to relish Jesus with my mom and with a dear friend. It’s amazing how His joy can seem to grow exponentially within my own heart as if multiplied by the joy in their own hearts.
Then on Thursday and Friday, I could barely finish my quiet time, frustrated that Jesus didn’t seem to show up. For the remainder of those days, every thing seemed to back up, twist around, flop, fail and irritate me. How can I go from such heights to such depths in a matter of 48 hours?
As I was commiserating with myself, I flipped a couple pages back in my journal, searching for some clue as to the magic of Wednesday and the gloom of Thursday. I love to record the responses of Jesus to my heart. Therein I found that on Wednesday, He had prepared me for the pitch and roll of the rest of the week.
Now, I have been through years and years of counseling. Counseling for an eating disorder, counseling for anxiety, counseling for marriage, family counseling, and on and on. I have gleaned a lot of truth from those sessions. However, everyone knows the phraseology that personifies counseling: You have to get to know yourself. You need to understand how you got here, make sense of your history and come to terms with you. You need to learn to accept yourself.
And then of course there’s the related mantra: We need to understand our neighbors. We need to tolerantly understand each other.
Surely, when we all understand and live out our true selves and understand our neighbors, then, we will experience peace. And isn’t that what we’re all looking for? Whether it be peace to rescue me from anxiety and depressing days, or whether it be peace among nations or neighbors or spouses. If we can just understand ourselves – get to know ourselves.
Hmmmmm…..Here’s what I clearly heard Jesus say to me:
Beloved, do you hear the world calling you to understand yourself? Even selflessly – to understand your neighbor? I do not call you to understand yourself or your neighbor, but to love him as you love yourself. And I do not call you to understand yourself.
My first commandment informs the second: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Or, to love me with all your heart, soul, UNDERSTANDING and strength. (Luke 10:27)
Therein is agape love: only outward focused as it reflects from me. You can only love with agape as you become like me and are able to choose my desires over your own. Love them, if only because you love me. Love yourself, only because you love me and I have chosen to love you. (1 John 4:18) And this will come as you study, come to know and understand me.
Do not struggle to understand yourself – for if you know me you will come to know, understand and even to love yourself as I love you. Do you see?
If you wanted to learn to appreciate and find value in a new possession, would you merely stare at it and manipulate it? No, in frustration you would eventually through it away. But if you went to the maker and watched him make and use the possession, and let him teach you to use it, then you could love and value it immensely.
I once heard John Piper say that, faith has no mirror. I cannot see myself in the midst of healing, soul-saving, love-teaching faith. “These remain faith, hope and love. The greatest of these is love.” 1 Cor. 13:13