Have you ever walked through the seasons where you can’t feel the presence of God? Where He draws back in order that you step forward? During these confusing seasons I always used to complain to God that He was being unfair or unjust, but He soon revealed to me that I must learn the art of giving love without receiving it in return. It’s because He loves us that He draws back… He is training us in love, through love, by love! We can never learn to truly love someone unless we love in the silence, emptiness and in the waiting.
Loving means giving oneself in such a way that you deny everything, giving your all to your lover. It is steadfast love, denying-oneself love, ever-seeking-to-give love (Gen. 29:18-20). Without this kind of love faithfulness is not stable. How can you be faithful in love if you only love in the good seasons? If you only love when you feel like loving? If love is based on the foundation of human feeling, it is a flicker and will be blown out by the slightest breeze of hardship. No, love is something greater then feeling… love is something greater then what human thought can imagine. It is a supernatural gift. It takes a supernatural grace to love someone. Not by our works, or our words, but only by the Holy Spirit.
Whenever I think about this topic the verses in John 15 always comes to my mind. Continually Jesus reminds us that He is the true vine and if we do not choose to produce the fruit of Christ, abide in Him, and obey His commandments then we will be thrown out into darkness. But, if we choose to love, if we choose to abide, and if we produce the fruit of Christ then He prunes us and refines us so that we may produce more fruit. What greater way to purify our hearts in love then by drawing back and watching us step forward? I can just picture Him watching to see if we will dive into the deep unknown. Will we love and be vulnerable even when we have no idea what may happen? Will we remain faithful even when circumstance proves difficult?
When Jesus was on earth, He gave everything He had for us even when we didn’t respond. We were in darkness (Eph. 2) and He was filled with such love that He gave His life for us. He didn’t wait for us to return His love in order to give more love; rather He gave everything to us even before we could receive it. He humbled Himself, took on the form of a bondservant, and loved us unto death (Phil. 2:5-8)… even when He didn’t feel any love from us (Eph. 2:4-7). Will we love to such an extent that we will wash their feet even when we know that they will betray us? Will we be silent when they hash out accusations and false testimonies against us? We will treat them with kindness even when they scourge, disfigure, mock and strike us? Will we live our lives to honor them even when they betray us with a kiss? Will we forgive our persecutors as they kill our mortal bodies? “He loved them to the end…” (John 13:1)
Only by the grace and the gift of the Holy Spirit will we ever love in a miniscule way as Christ loved the church. The only way to test true love is to see if your love is the strongest when the circumstances around you are the most difficult, or when you receive no love in return (Hos. 3:1). In these seasons when we feel like God is far-off or that He doesn’t care, We must believe the truth that God IS watching us and waiting to see how our hearts will respond. He doesn’t “draw-away” because He doesn’t love us, but BECAUSE He loves us.
What a glorious mystery…