A few days ago a friend asked me, “If you could ask Jesus one question, what would it be?” And as I thought about it, a question rose up from within me. In fact, it surprised me a bit. My only explanation is that it came from God; he knew the deepest question of my heart better than I did. How kind of him to show it to me.
“How can I love like you love?” was my response. Like I said, I can take no credit for it. It was just something that arose from a deep and beautiful place in me. And it was so right! In fact, the older I get the more it seems like the only question that really matters. And when it came out of my mouth, I could feel a yes deep in my soul.
The problem is that it’s so far from my daily reality. My failures to love seem much more abundant than whatever small successes I might have. Even the idea of loving like Jesus loves seems almost impossible to me, apart from a work of Divine Grace. Yet, it is definitely one of the deepest longings of my heart and soul. But how in the world does that happen? How can I possibly begin to love like Jesus loves? I guess the answer is as simple as it is complex: I must let Jesus do the loving in and through me.
Which brings me to my verses for the day—Luke 7:11-17. It is the story of a widow who just lost her only son. Can you imagine the pain? What a double dose of pain and heartache and tragedy! First you lose your husband, and then you lose your only child. Losing one of the two would have been bad enough, but this just seems like piling on.
And here is the verse that stopped me in my tracks: “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her.” (Luke 7:13) Not only had Jesus revealed to me the deepest question of my heart, but he was also revealing to me how to go about the journey of loving like he loves.
You see, ninety-nine percent of the time my initial thoughts are about myself, and how things affect me. Sadly, even when I run into the tragedy and despair of others, my initial thoughts are usually something like, “What can I do? What do I need to say? What would be wise and helpful?” And when I do that, I fail to really see the person in front of me at all, much less allow my heart to go out to them. Loving like Jesus loves, first of all, involves a shift. A shift from me worrying about what I am going to say or do, to really seeing them and letting my heart go out to them. A simple shift, but a profound one.
It’s like Jesus is saying to me: “Jim, just allow me to love others through you, that’s how you love like me. Train your eyes to really see those around you, and then, instead of worrying about how to respond, just let your heart go out to them. Make it about them, not about you. If you can do those two things, you will be well on your way in the journey of love.”