because He first loved us

One of the sweetest gifts I have had in a long time has come as quite a surprise to me–a group of godly women in my home on Tuesday evenings. Our Loving Well Bible study ends tomorrow night and it comes with bittersweet feelings as I am sorry to see it end. Yet I know we were brought together for this season for a mighty purpose: to learn to better love, to better offer ourselves to others.

The challenges that have come for each of us still catch me a little by surprise, even though I know that is often how God works in us, is to work some challenging thing out of us. If you are doing a study on loving well, you can be pretty sure you will be given an opportunity to put the new information to good use and do a little transfer from the head to the heart, if you take advantage of the occasion.

One of the things that has surprised me most is the way this group has bonded and poured their hearts out in love from the very first time we met four weeks ago. Another aspect of loving well—letting yourself be vulnerable enough to be loved. We learned we can’t love well if we are not well loved.

These ladies are well loved by the Lord—favorites of His, I imagine, not by picking out one particular, but in His unique way of making each of us feel special. I believe that is God’s specialty—loving on us in so many ways to fill us so that we have something to offer someone else. When our cup is overflowing, it is so much easier to give someone else a drink of water. I praise Him for such gifts of love.

The last unexpected benefit of this study in this particular four weeks of my life is watching and praying with a dear friend as her family goes through some of the most difficult suffering of their lives, but with such grace. I am totally overtaken with love for her as I pray them through these tough days. She told me months ago when it all started that she knew her life had been too easy for too long, and this was going to be an opportunity for His Glory to be revealed in each of them. She hasn’t let Him down. Her humility and sustained faith have indeed glorified Him so. How suffering could be an opportunity to love deeper and raise the banner higher for our Lord, to glorify His Name always amazes me. The last few days could have gone the other way, but praise His Name, it all has gone very well. What was so endearing to see is that her prayer was not for anything but His Will to be done and to align her family’s hearts to His. She left the specifics up to Him. The road is still long, but it is sweet.

Every one of these benefits could just have easily been hurdles, but it is in the framework of loving well that they become benefits. While it isn’t humanly possible to love perfectly or even love well in our own strength, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can do all things. He wants to demonstrate His love by doing through us what we cannot do on our own. And may He be glorified through it all.

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