Northern California has much to offer. Some enjoy visiting the headquarters of huge tech companies, but beyond buildings and corporations, there are beautiful sites to see. One can watch the sunset at the beach with a warm jacket or drive up and down the coast to Big Sur or Sea Ranch.
Depending on the source, the idea or definition of love can vary. From childhood, to being a teenager and into adulthood. From inside our home to outside of it, the depth of what love is can be so broad leaving one forever seeking out the true definition.
As a child growing up in America, I was exposed to many Disney movies and for those familiar with it, most of those movies were about a princess and a prince who met, had “love at first sight,” then got married and lived happily ever after. All those stories plant a seed in us to carry on in life believing there’s that love at first sight and happily ever after, neglecting the dynamics of two people that come from different backgrounds coming together and trying to become one.
It is usually a walk-in-the-park at the beginning, smooth sailing on the intense curiosity of the other person, but after most of the mystery is gone, things begin to change, reality sets in and you begin to look at your life rather than the other person. Maybe some personal issues start to come up, then the past, then you begin to see the bigger impact that the environment that you grew up in has on your view of what love is.
Maybe that environment was full of anger, bitterness, sweeping things under the table or never coming to resolutions, but silent treatments, temporary or permanent separations or maybe love in the household had conditions attached to it. Then, stepping outside of the house, the source for defining love may have been through movies watched or music listened to with friends or in the car. If it’s not happily ever after with Disney, maybe it’s defined through the explicit lyrics of a song making some believe that love has something to do with, on clean terms, sleeping.
Sometimes lines are drawn when it comes to loving someone, which is usually followed by, “I will or won’t love you if…” told by a significant other or by a parent. I can still remember getting off of the plane with my sister and my Mom telling us that she didn’t love us because we were misbehaving on the plane and not listening to her. There were other times that my parents would make us feel unloved because we did or didn’t do what they wished so I grew up believing that love was conditional. With all the movies and music around me, my definition of love was all the more tainted.
It wasn’t until Jesus came into my life, that I finally found the meaning of love. As I read His word, the Bible and spent time with the Lord in prayer, the meaning of love became clear. His love is unconditional, pure and so powerful. He is merciful and gracious. Nothing we do can ever separate us from His love.
32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?…..35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
He is the definition of love and the expression of it was when Jesus was nailed to the cross for our sins. He gave himself fully to us, nothing held back. Although we may not see the value in ourselves, God sees otherwise. Who better to know us than the Creator who created us for love. He is the pure definition of love.
He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love.
The act of love is defined in 1 Corinthians. In most versions, the word, “love” is used, but the old King James version uses the word, “charity”. It is a good source to compare our own acts of love and where our heart stands.
4 Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; 6 Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Charity never fails: ….. 13 And now abides faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Without knowing what love is, who love is or how to love, how do we love others? It starts with finding love. With all the laws, Jesus says that the greatest commandment can fill all. When you love God, He will begin to fill you with His love, then you will be able to love others. His greatest commandment is this:
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
We are all valuable in Christ as He deemed us worthy to die for all of us. All of us, including what the world thinks is the worst. This is love, that He gave His all. If God is love, then the more you get to know Him, the more you know love. The next time you find yourself feeling unloved, look up at the sky and know that God is there and that you are loved by Him. If you want to know Him, just ask Jesus to show up. Believe and receive.
Whenever the word religious is used to describe someone, it usually implies that he or she is good or strives to be a good person. If I tell someone I go to church or if I talk about God, they label me as religious, but I would disagree. I would disagree with someone calling me a good person. I’m just a sinner saved by grave. I don’t go to church to be a good person. As we need food, air, shelter and water for our physical bodies, the spirit inside of us needs an encounter with God that brings healing and fulfillment.
If we think we can’t be in His presence if we’re sinners, it’s God’s presence that delivers us. I remember going to a miracle crusade in Anaheim, California back in 2003. The stadium was packed and before the doors opened, the line wrapped around the entire building. When the presence of God grew so thick, people were falling out in the presence. The youth were so hungry to get on stage and experience a touch from God. They ran up there, racing with each other. My cousin’s friend who never shed a tear, started to cry as soon as the service started and could not stop for entire four hours. When God’s presence comes, healing comes.
That lack of love can do major damage to someone. Failed by the ones that we expected to love us unconditionally and keep us safe, some rebel and carry around hatred in their heart or a lack of confidence. God can heal those areas. Parent’s don’t always say the right things to their kids. I didn’t understand the depth of unconditional love until Jesus stepped into my life and experienced the love of God. He gave His all on the cross as in taking a bullet for us.
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1 John 4:7-10
Whenever the topic of God comes up, we want to run away. When it comes to drawing close to God, some feel that they need to be good in order to do so. Adam and Eve, feeling ashamed, hid themselves from God after they ate of the tree that God told them not to eat from. That didn’t stop God from wanting to be in communication with them. It seems as if some feel that they need to be good, perfect or pure in order to come to God, but the Word says, to come as you are. You don’t need to change yourself before you come to God, rather, come to Him and He will change you.
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God says come as you are. You don’t have to be perfect, good, pure or innocent. God heals the broken and brings restoration. Give God all your burdens, anger, shame, guilt and pain. God gives beauty for ashes. Come as a sinner and He will wipe you clean. He is a gracious and merciful God. In His presence, it is safe to be vulnerable and messed up. It is safe to surrender your burdens into the hands of God. Let His love heal the very depths of your aching soul.