This is a bonus post for the week: I didn’t intend to write it, but felt moved to do so as we all head into Easter.
I called home last night and my Dad answered. He doesn’t, typically; he works long hours, and he’s not much for the phone, anyway. “Hey!” he said cheerfully.
I was surprised to hear him on the other end of the line and told him so. “Normally I don’t pay it any attention when it rings,” he said. “I don’t answer. But I saw it was you, so I picked it up.”
I saw it was you, so I picked it up.
My dad is a stoic, mountain-man of a guy. He’s not given to grandiose displays of emotion or sappy Hallmark moments, though he’s always been generous with “I love you”s and hugs. And he was being honest: he doesn’t like talking on the phone. So that simple admission warmed me. I saw it was you, so I picked it up meant you’re my daughter so of course I wanted to talk. It also meant, in its own way, I love you.
People all share and show their love in different ways – that’s one of the reasons Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages became and remains so popular. My dad shows it by picking up the phone when I call and being excited to talk to me. My mom shows it with our daily chats and her cards that come in the mail. My husband shows it with cuddles and jokes and the way he takes care to prioritize our time together over his work and even his own leisure time. Over time, I have learned to “listen” for these things, to hear the “I love you” in all of these different, sometimes quiet, actions.
I don’t know why I do not give God that same grace.
I tend to want Him to love me in a very particular way. One day, I’ll demand that He show love by offering His comfort right then. The next day, I want him to show love by solving a problem I have. Later, I want to feel His love through a blessing. And in all of these wants and demands, I have forgotten to listen for all the murmurs of God’s love that are happening everywhere, all the time.
The sunset. The sunrise. The random encouragement or word of wisdom from a close believer that happened to be just what I needed to hear at just the right time. The car that almost hit me because the driver was texting, but miraculously didn’t and swerved away just in time. The comfort that comes from reading the Word daily. The thrill I always feel when our congregation recites the Lord’s Prayer together. The ache I get during the Good Friday service. All of these things are quiet I love you‘s. I just don’t listen for them.
Look at these two statements:
I wanted God to show me love today by _______.
God showed me His love today by ________.
In the gap between these two, we can miss a lot. In our selfish desire for what we think we need, we miss everything that God is pouring out. Love is His heartbeat. Everything we know of it, all the ways that we have learned to show it, are pale imitations of everything He is. And if we are willing to pay attention, our lives become a panoply of grace, richly-colored, complex and humming with evidence of God’s affection.
Listen for love this week. Listen for love always. You will witness it in unexpected places.