My fingers are coated with the color of the cross this morning…
Mark 12:29-31 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. 30 So love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second most important commandment is this: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
This morning, as I paint, I am pondering over what this truly means for each of us.
Love the Lord your God…how do we do it?
It’s different for all of us, isn’t it? Why?
The measure of love we are able to GIVE is what we have willingly RECEIVED ourselves. If we have not received love, we cannot give love. Extravagant gifts, while nice, can be hard to accept and this gift of LOVE keeps coming and coming and coming.
It’s like an eternal paint palette filled with the colors of heaven.
Colors that we have yet to see, or that may not even be mixed yet. When we mix the color of understanding with the color of knowledge we get the color of truth.When we mix the color of mercy with compassion we get the color of joy. When we mix all of these things with the colors of wisdom and power we get grace.
Isn’t GRACE what held Christ to the cross?
Grace is never black and white.
When we add black to a color it is becomes ugly and unwanted.
When we add white it becomes brighter and lighter and you are drawn toward it –you want to see more.
My life isn’t black and white – so why would I think others would be? Love comes in many colors and we have yet to see them all!
When we begin to climb into the paint box and we start to see color where there once was none, and it permeates our soul, consumes us, we come face to face with the Christ of the cross. We begin to see the hues of heaven rising in the distance, like a beautiful southwestern sunset. Always changing and shifting colors. This is grace in it’s truest, rawest form. The closer we get to Christ, the brighter the colors become, until we are covered with His glory and we can see nothing but the colors of eternity.
As a human being I struggle with judgment. Judging others and being judged. As I studied this scripture God kept dabbing his paintbrush in my own heart saying, “ Donna, I am speaking to your heart and no other. These words are for you. Just love me. Be who I made YOU to be-not Judy Judge or Damning Dan-but the artist who makes me, the invisible God, visible. Love ME with ALL of YOUR heart, mind, soul and strength and when you do that you will be able to love your neighbor as yourself.”
Love…how do we do it? We take each person as they come to us. I cannot love my kids the same way I do a friend. It’s like a recipe- the main ingredient is love and then you add sugar, salt, lemon, and eggs to get the desired product. No two are alike.
So how do we love outside of our comfort zone? In today’s world, this is a must-it comes with practice, experience and getting out of my own square thinking. I thank my God that He involved me with a ministry that went beyond the walls of the church building and my own heart and into the heart of God. It was this experience that taught me to love extravagantly. You can’t learn that from a book or in a classroom. God is love and I am called to serve it to ALL I meet. I cannot pick and choose who to give it too- although in all honesty-sometimes that is what I do. I am a weak human.
I am reminded of my dear friend, Linda Blessing. I hear her in my head all the time. Linda painted my life with the colors of the cross. Had it not been for her speaking life and light into me I would still be black and white.
She was an example of what it meant to love at all costs. “ Just love me.”
God used her testimony to shake me up. She never judged anyone and she spent herself on her Lord and today she is sitting at His feet. I miss her.
I have been searching my heart over some deep issues. Homosexuality, suicide, child abuse, sexual predators, abortion, addictions, etc.. I have limited understanding of any of these things and quite honestly-I find them very uncomfortable to discuss or even think about. But I know that if I am to be who God has made me to be, I must rely on the Holy Spirit to give me words and strength for the ministry that lies ahead. I have not walked a mile in these shoes, nor do I want to, but I know people who have. The grace that I see them walking IN and living UNDER on a daily basis astounds me. It makes me say, “there IS a GOD.”
I have been having running conversations with God….
GOD: “What about the people who struggle with these things, Donna? They are my children and I love them just as I do you. I love them just because.” ME: “ Is it my place to point my finger and call attention to the struggle? Or, as a shepherd, is it my job to lift up, pray, care for. embrace , and love ALL of your people into the fold?”
Then I realize… what is lost….love.
“ We cannot give what we do not have. If someone has not felt love of the Savior, how can we expect them to love others, let alone God, and isn’t it my job to spend the Father’s Love on others? He has given much and so must I. Isn’t it when we fall in love with someone that we want to give them our very best? God is calling His people back into His love and when people begin to experience the Living God in their hearts then the atmosphere shifts. Heaven falls down in the brightest colors and the world sees that there is a GOD.”
IT IS MY JOB TO MAKE GOD VISIBLE. That’s it. I am not the Holy Spirit, I cannot convict. I am not God- I cannot judge and I am certainly not Jesus-I cannot save.
But I can love…and love I will…
“..and isn’t my job to give love away so that GLORY can be proclaimed? This is about GOD’s work-not my thoughts or opinions or judgment.
Scripture says that God’s ways are not our ways.”
It also says:
33 But first, be concerned about his kingdom and what has his approval. Then all these things will be provided for you.
What has his approval?
“‘Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Mark 12: 30-31
What must we do first? LISTEN to what GOD is saying. To HEAR HIM for ourselves. To search out the scriptures for the truth. Over the years my own pastor has told me to dig deep for myself and not rely on other people to teach me what GOD wants to teach me HIMSELF through the Word.
Today God is teaching me to “just love Him and then love others and when I, Donna, seek the kingdom of God out of obedience, then God gives me approval. I cannot seek the Kingdom of God for others- but I can make every attempt to make it visible to them and I am to do this with great amounts of grace mixed with love and truth.”
We must each seek the Kingdom of God in our own time and in our own way. We cannot beat people over the head with the bible.
My job is to seek God, to love, and to pray without ceasing. ( 1 Thess. 5:17)
“ So many times we want to judge and in order to measure the penalty of judgment we must measure from a black or white standard. However, Grace is neither black nor white..it is the colored area of one’s heart where Christ has applied. “ J.Hart
So, what are the colors of your heart and how many hues have been applied there? You might not be able to love him with your all yet…but trust me…you are well on your way and when you hear Him say:
“Just love me, but don’t JUST love me-love me with all that I have given you. Violet, lavender, crimson, scarlet, lemon, yellow, cobalt, periwinkle, rose, magenta and on and on and on. I have given you colors of justice, peace, compassion, understanding, wisdom, knowledge and love. Use them well my daughter. Apply liberally… “
The glory of God will come down….