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Mostly what God does is Love us!

I am leaving in a few days on vacation to New Zealand, my home country. I find myself very scattered---partly focused on what is to come, planning for my time with friends and family, already living into the anticipation of being with them again, and partly trying to complete all the arrangements here for my absence. Lists to check off, that keep having items added to them—how complicated modern life is! I know what lies ahead, and I look forward to it.

For those of you who follow the liturgical calendar, we are now entering the fourth week of Lent. My thoughts turn to Jesus. Luke records, “As the time approached for him to be taken up into heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51) Jesus knew what lay ahead for him, and I am sure he wasn’t looking forward to it.

He told his disciples, “We are going to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him, and kill him. On the third day he

will rise again.” (Luke 18:31) He knew even then that his disciples didn’t really “get” what was going on. He knew that he was to be betrayed by one of his own and denied by one of his closest friends. He had spent several years ministering to the people of Galilee who had followed him with delight. But now, it was time for the fulfillment of all he had come to earth to do. Yet, I marvel at the way he continued to do what God had given him to do—preach, heal the sick, and teach his disciples how to minister also. “Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem.”  (Luke 13: 22) And eventually to Jericho (Luke 18:35; 19:1) and thus into Jerusalem.

Nothing distracted Jesus from the will of his Father.

As I spend these last few days at home here in Portland, I find myself very distracted. Two days ago, one of my granddaughters became ill and eventually had surgery to remove her appendix. The stresses of the unknown, the arrangements for the other children, an ambulance ride, and covering the distances between Portland and Lebanon…How can I, how can you, amidst the constant happenings of life, the unexpected that interrupts our plans, keep our focus on God? What is the will of the Father for us?

One of my favorite verses, translated by Eugene Peterson, is found in Ephesians 5: 1,2: “Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious, but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.”

“Mostly what God does is love us.” Sit with that thought. The invitation is there for us all—love like He does. What does that mean for me as I finish my preparations for my trip? I sense the invitation to be present to the people in my life. My daughter is still reeling from the stresses of the past few days, as are her children. She needs my encouragement and listening ear. I have several friends going through difficult times. What does love from me look like for each right now? Those questions can only be asked in the quietness of sitting in God’s presence and listening. He knows what each one needs. I encourage you to sit quietly in His presence. As each person comes to mind, ask Him how you can love him or her. Then, out of the love that pours from God into and through your heart, reach out and touch the people in your life today.

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