Long ago the Lord said to Isreal: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn myself to you.” Jeremiah 31:3
Live a life filled with love, following the example of Chirst. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Ephesians 5:2
This week I wrote about what we can learn from the Isrealties. Little did I know that God would have a more personal message for me this week stemming from this wonderful verse…
Last night after I had put the boys to bed and while my husband was at work, I quietly ate my supper while watching a program on TV. I had mountains of laundry to do, and had to clean up down in the family room and my bedroom. Okay, if we are being honest, the whole bottom floor of my house was a disaster. My body was also hurting quite a bit from a fun family night at the kids school from the evening before. Any little bit of extra activity can really make me miserable the next day.
As I sat on the couch, contemplating the work I had to do and thinking about my weary body, I glanced over at the opposite wall. I was surprised by what I saw. You see, I have a wickless candle on my fireplace that I often put on. (Okay, always put on – I like my house to smell good even if it doesn’t always look good). Because of the little holes in its design it can cast shadows on the wall. Tonight’s shadow was rather unnerving. It looked like the grim reaper’s hand with its scythe. I was a little taken back because usually it’s just circles or ovals sometimes criss crossed that come from the shadows on this wickless candle. I painstakingly got up to shut the switch off, so the scary shadow would disappear. I quickly crossed the room and one more time glanced back to the wall and the shadow there. Standing beside my candle, the shadow had a different perspective. From that part of the room, when I looked at the wall the shadow was a giant heart. Almost as big as a heart that glowed with the light from within the base of the wickless candle.
Peace washed over me. I would much rather see a heart than a creepy scythe any day. But then my heart reflected on this verse. Just like the Isrealites, God loves me with an everlasting love. He is a personal God. He loves me.
I have this inner struggle with my soul. I live every day not knowing how much longer I have to live. I know most people don’t know how many days they have left, but because of my disability, I know I likely won’t live to be 80. I don’t even know if I will live to be 60. Or even…40. You can read more about that here. If I am being honest, some days I feel like I am being robbed. It’s not fun to know that your life will likely be cut short. I have young children that I would love to see grow up to be old. I hope for grandbabies to hold in my future. My reality could be different than that, though. It hangs over my head and my heart.
Until this moment. When I saw that beautiful heart, almost as big as my entire wall. It was like God sending a message to my heart saying “I love you, Jerusha. This is not my plan for you.” As if He was saying not to worry about the death that might come sooner than later. Not to dwell on how many days I may or may not have to live. Instead, the message was clear. He loves me and He wants me to love. Love everyone as Christ loved.
Back in the day when the Isrealites were living, they would offer sacrifices to God as an atonement for their sins. Jesus hadn’t come yet to die for their sins, so they would offer animals on an alter to God. Numbers 29:8b says, “you must present a burnt offering as a pleasing aroma to the Lord.” On sixteen different occasions in the book of Leviticus, the words “pleasing aroma” are used in reference to the Isrealites sacrifices. What pleased God about this may not have been the actual fire itself (as all burning animals likely had a similar smell), but that the heart of the people who were making the sacrifices were committing their hearts and lives to the Lord as He had commanded them to do.
When we live and love as Christ, we are committing our hearts and lives to the Lord as He has commanded us. Even through the difficult situations in our lives. Even when it is hard to show love to those who we might not feel like loving.
I don’t expect I will see the grim reaper’s hand and scythe on my wall again. It was just there for a moment to remind me of what really matters. Seeing that message on my wall was God calling me to throw off my fears and embrace the hope He offers. A call to love others as Christ loved me. That means forgiving when I don’t feel like forgiving. That means offering love and mercy when it hurts. That means sacrificial love.
If this is something God is calling you to do, then let’s do it together. Let’s love where we are and embrace the call to love through all circumstances, regardless of who we are and our shortcomings. He will equip us as long as we are faithful.