I'm going to be real with you all. I haven't done very well at making love into a verb. I've had a bad attitude and for a few days there, I just didn't want to do it. But in the past few days, somethings have happened that have me in a different place today.
I am leading a bible study right now on The Prodigal God by Tim Keller. It is a study on the Parable of the Lost Son, or what is better known as The Prodigal Son. I am also reading another book to aid in preparing for that study called The Return of The Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. As I was reading and preparing for my study on Wednesday,I was reading about the elder brother in both books. In the parable, the elder brother's are the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. The rule followers. The ones who are indignant when the father allows the younger son back into the family after all that he had done. In his book, Nouwen calls the Elder Brother "resentful and complaining." He goes on to say that it is probably easier to return from the lostness of the younger son (rebelling) than it is to return from the lostness of the Elder Brother because that sort of lostness is so deep within us Our resentments are often hard to distinguish and deal with.
Then he said this.....
"At the very moment I want to speak or act out of my most generous self, I get caught in anger or resentment. And it seems that just as I want to be most selfless, I find myself obsessed with being loved. Just when I do my utmost to accomplish a task well, I find myself questioning why others do not give themselves as I do. Just when I think I am capable of over coming my temptations, I feel envy toward those who gave in to theirs. It seems that wherever my virtuous self is, there also is the resentful complainer."
This paragraph really go to me. I knew I was the elder brother. The rule follower. The one who didn't take my inheritance and squander it on wild living as the younger brother did. No, I was the elder brother, the one who stayed home and worked the fields. BUT -- to hear the words resentful and complaining and then to go on to read that paragraph.....that's been me! I might not do it out loud a whole lot, but I complain to God all the time.....and probably out loud to hubs a lot, if not to anyone else. That paragraph describes me. I start to do "good things" and then I get resentful that no one loves me or that no one does what I think they should do around here....
I really started thinking about my bad attitude and how it needed to change and how I really do need to make love a verb. I told you all way back and the beginning of this challenge, that God has been speaking to me about truly loving people for a while now. I would try for a while to love people, to love God, to love my family, to love my enemies....but my selfishness always catches up to me and keeps me from loving with abandon and without expecting anything back.
All that reading and preparing got me really thinking about my elder brother"ness". I even shared that quote with my bible study group Wednesday night.
Then, on Thursday afternoon, we got the news that a kind man from our church had unexpectedly passed away. I was shocked because, see, he had been at our Gathering Meal at church the night before. I was upset with myself for being in such a hurry to get to the next thing on my to -do list that I didn't do more than smile and say hello to him that night. I was so concerned about what *I* had to do next that I didn't take the time to love the people who where right in front of me.
Loving people. Putting love into action. Loving as a verb. To love my neighbor as myself. That is what God is calling me to do. That means I have to get over my elder brother bad attitude full of resentment and complaining and learn to truly love as Jesus did and as he is calling me to do.
That is where I am tonight. Praying that God will show me the way back from being an elder brother. TO being like HIM and loving as a verb. To being Jesus' hands, feet and words personified.
Let it be, Lord. Let it be!