Finally, by looking to God as the resource for your needs you
will find yourself not overloading your friendships with expec-
tations that are easily disappointed. By vesting all of our hope
in God’s ability to meet our needs we will not need to force our
friends to do it. I know God will often use other believers to
extend his gifts and graces to me, but now I also know I don’t
get to choose the vessel he uses. In other words, I always look
for how God is revealing himself to me through other believers,
but I don’t trick myself into thinking it has to come from a spe-
cific person I want him to use.
Disappointed expectations destroy relationships because we
look to others in ways God wants us to look to him. Such expec-
tations set us up for enduring frustration. However, when we
give up our expectations of people, we’ll find God using some
of the most unlikely people to lend us a hand. Our frustration
will yield to gratefulness at however, whenever and through
whomever God uses others to touch us or us to touch others.
A SAFE HARBOR
Instead of trying to fix people in crisis, love will call us to gra-
ciously lend them our support. We will be able to offer insights
as fellow-strugglers in the process, not experts with pat answers.
When you live like that you will be a safe place for people to
be encouraged in their trials and for them to discover what it
means to rely on God in the midst of it.
People who serve the illusion of a demanding God will be
unwittingly destructive to people in pain instead of helpful.
When I thought I had to work so hard to earn God’s accep-
tance, I thought loving people meant I had to push them to do
so as well. When someone came to me in crisis, I would tell
them what they were doing wrong and encourage them to try
harder. No wonder people in pain shied away from me.
I discovered that a few years ago as I was sitting in a roomful
of people going through some very painful life experiences: lost
jobs; family crisis, desperately ill relatives; chronic diseases, and
drug dependencies. Thinking out loud I observed that it seemed
to be a tough time for God’s people. A few years ago, I noted,
that most believers I knew were living the bliss of the American
He Loves Me!
dream—stable families, healthy children, rising incomes.
Knowing glances shot around the room. “Should we tell
him?” someone finally asked.
“Tell me what?”
“Back then you were not a safe person for people who were
hurting. You had an answer for everything and it usually added
to people’s feelings of condemnation and inadequacy. But the
difficulties you experienced in the last few years have changed
you. People sense your compassion and your trust that the
Father will sort it out with them in his time.”
If all the pain I’ve gone through opens that door for others, I
can truly say it has been worth it. But again, this is nothing I set
out to change. Somehow some of the patience God had poured
into me had splashed out on to others without my notice.
I am amazed at what love will call people to do, and they
won’t even think it a sacrifice. Recently I met a woman from the
Midwest who had been divorced when her husband told her he
was gay, that he had AIDS and that he wanted to live with his
lover. A few years later as the disease progressed, she felt com-
passion for her former husband and felt God wanted her to
help care for him as the disease worsened.
She did just that. With her husband’s permission she moved
back in, not as wife but as nurse, and cared for him as the dis-
ease progressed. I can’t imagine what it took for her to give
of herself in this way, and don’t think her obedience should
become a standard for others, but she talked about it as one of
the greatest experiences of her life. What’s more, after his death
she took in other AIDS patients for the next few years to share
God’s love with them as well.
THE EXCELLENT WAY
Without God’s love filling our hearts, we’ll end up hurting
people despite our best intentions. For years I’ve heard of
congregations doing “Jericho marches” around property they
needed to expand their facility to reach their neighborhood
more effectively for the kingdom. I heard one pastor telling how
one of their next-door neighbors sold them the property they
needed after they went out on a Sunday evening and marched
In Exactly the Same Way
around it singing and praying that the owners would sell.
A few years later I got a look from the other side of those
curtains. Our new neighbors were not Christians and let us
know in no uncertain terms that they didn’t want that “Jesus
stuff crammed down their throats.” We assured them we would
not. As we got to know them better we found out why. Their
previous home had been located next to a church facility and
according to them the people there had been obnoxious in their
attempts to make them move. They parked in their driveway,
trampled their flowers, and even one night marched around the
house chanting. As an elderly couple it had scared them half to
They had held their ground for many years thereafter
unwilling to give in. When they finally did move they were
embittered at how they had been treated and had rejected any
sense of God’s reality.
Over the course of the next thirteen years, however, we got
to know them, mostly by taking them their mail when it had
mistakenly ended up in our box. They mentioned one day how
much they appreciated some article I’d written for the local
paper and our conversations more frequently turned to spiri-
tual things. They were interested but still cautious.
Do you know what finally opened the door? One day I found
out they were too ill to get their paper any more and had to wait
until the evening when their son would come over and get it for
them. I told them I’d be happy to get theirs every morning when
I got mine. For the next four years, until we moved, it was our
family project. It wasn’t any big deal to us and yet it touched
I did get to share the life of Jesus with them and was even
asked to preside at the husband’s funeral when he passed away
a couple of years ago. They were not “missionary projects” to
us, they were friends and neighbors whom we cared about.
God’s kind of love is really the most powerful force in the
universe. No wonder Paul said that to really love like God loves
will fulfill every bit of the law without even trying. Jesus said
the same thing. “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching”
I know that can be taken two ways and for most of my life I’ve
He Loves Me!
followed the wrong one. I thought Jesus was saying if I really
loved him I would keep all of his commands, as if the keeping
was proof of the loving. But the rest of his actions and teaching
prove otherwise. Those who love will find themselves obeying
his ways. The keeping is the natural result of the loving.
The difference is critical, for it determines where we’ll invest
our efforts—in keeping or loving. We know our best efforts at
keeping will never be enough but the transformation that love
brings to our lives will help us live like Jesus in the world.
That’s why he told us to love—exactly the same way he loves
us. Until we know he does, we can’t.
Once we fully know he does, we can’t help ourselves not to.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us
and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
For your personal journey
Realize that loving others is the overflow of being loved.
Wherever you see your life being given away to help others,
rejoice at what God has worked in you. Wherever you see your
love lacking toward others, ask God to take you to deeper levels
of his love. Let him show you where you have expectations of
others that prevent you from loving them freely and let him set
In Exactly the Same Way
The Prayer God
“Since God offers to manage our affairs for us,
let us once and for all hand them over to His
infinite wisdom, in order to occupy ourselves
only with Himself and what belongs to Him.”
J. P. de Caussade (c. 1700s)
is time of teaching about his Father’s kingdom had drawn
to an end. There would be no more opportunity to hold a leper
in his hands or sit in Mary’s home in Bethany and talk of his
Father’s wonders, at least not in this body, not in the way he
had grown accustomed.
He had returned to Jerusalem for his final visit. Days away
from yielding himself to those who sought to kill him, his heart
was deeply troubled. He stood on the threshold of the greatest
act of love and trust our world would ever behold, but he knew
in doing so he would be consumed.
What should he do? Would he trust his Father’s love and
continue the journey, or would he cut it short in a moment of
weakness and beckon angels to set him free?
Perhaps the most powerful lesson he taught his disciples
about prayer began by polling how they thought he should pray:
“What shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’”
Perhaps there were nods around the circle as they all acknowl-
edged how good that sounded to them. That’s how we’re used
to praying. In moments of trial and pain, it is natural even for
the unbeliever to cry out for help. Save me, God! If you get me
out of this I will serve you forever.
His disciples understood that prayer well enough, but Jesus
wanted them to learn a better way. Even when it was his life at
stake, Jesus was tuned to a better frequency. “No, it was for this
very reason I came to this hour.” What he wanted personally
wasn’t in the picture. He was focused elsewhere—on the pur-
pose that transcended his personal happiness.
Then he prayed the prayer he wanted them to hear, “Father,
glorify your name” (John 12:27).
In this brief exchange we learn everything we will need to
know about prayer and what it means to follow God in this
life. For every situation you’ll ever encounter will offer you two
options in prayer: “Father, save me” or “Father, glorify your
One will lead you to frustration and disillusionment; the
other to the greatest wonders in God’s heart.
WHATEVER YOU ASK?
Jesus teaching about prayer seemed to be incredibly simple:
Ask for whatever they wish and be assured that the Father will
give it to you.
It only gets complicated when our experience with prayer
falls short of this ideal. Why would he tantalize us with such out-
landish promises only to leave us disappointed in so many of
the things we ask?
It’s not so difficult to understand why he would ignore our
more selfish requests. Even his disciples had to learn that the
power of prayer was not for their selfish agendas. Instead of
He Loves Me!
Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested