Refreshment in Refuge
by Gina Burgess
There I was, ten years old, standing in the movie theater and just crying my eyes out. Big, sloppy tears soaking the front of my shirt, making it stick to my chest… not a tissue to be found, either.
“Get your coat on, Gina,” Mom said as the credits to “Little Women” were rolling on the huge screen in front of us: The old black and white one starring June Alison as Jo, and Peter Lawson as Laurie.
“But, Mom,” I wailed, “why didn’t they get married? They loved each other.”
At ten years old, that’s what I thought love was all about, especially the Christmas love stories where the snow started falling and the boy and girl were kissing and the natural next move was marriage and a baby. That’s the way it happened on the big screen so that’s the way it was supposed to be in real life, right?
Satan’s Lie Number One…
There is only one true love for a person.
Here’s a news flash, in case you haven’t figured it out yet… Love is a choice.
The thing about Jo and Laurie was that she wasn’t ready for love’s commitment. The real challenge is choosing to love in spite of the faults instead of loving because of the beauty of face and form and chemistry. Choosing to love when it suddenly becomes work instead of romance.
Satan’s Lie number two is, when a person finds “true love”, then it’s smooth sailing after that: No work, no problems, no conflicts. Prince Charming and Snow White kiss, snow starts falling and there’s a fade out to the sunset. No more conflict, no more problems. If you have lived past your second decade you know this is False. One only has to glance at all the Christian books about Love such as Gary Chapman’s book, Five Love Languages, to know that Love is Work.
Ask any couple who has been married more than thirty years what the secret is to the longevity of their marriage and you’ll hear from every one of them of commitment, and of working at keeping the love fires burning. Today we have books and consultants who tell us that love must be worked at. Yet… Hollywood would have us believe that love just happens, that it pops in then leaves at the first storm. The sad thing is, society is starting to believe that blather.
Satan’s lie number three is that True Love is unconditional…
I'm going out on a limb here, I do not think it is possible for a human being to be able to unconditionally love another person.
Parents have great love for their children... but, that love is birthed at birth, flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone. That is a condition.
Husbands and wives love each other through various and wonderful interactions. The love continues through a commitment to each other and through the grace of God -- especially when tempers flare. But, it is a condition.
Brothers and sisters love each other through thick and thin, through good times and bad times, but they, again are flesh of each other and bone of each other. Families love each other inspite of the cantankerous differences. That is a condition.
Friends love each other because of commonalities. We are drawn to certain people because their lifestyle or their beliefs or their likes and dislikes match pretty closely with our own so we become friends... sometimes life long friends. That is conditional because we can grow apart.
Try loving someone completely unconditionally. It is wonderful and not so hard when they love you back. When they care about your feelings... when they put you first before thinking about themselves. But... what about when they do not like you anymore. What about when they kick you... betray you... spit on you... do things to harm you...
What about when they turn from God? Can you love them still?
We are not talking about the faceless people who are a world away. Nor are we talking about the lost person whom you do not know, but pray for because God wants you to.
Would you take a bullet for someone you knew but could not abide? Loving those people is not easy... not even when God loves them through you.
Is there a point you reach when you have to say, "Loving you hurts too much for me to continue to love you unconditionally."
The pivotal point here is that God does not expect us to be God. He expects us to act like Him to the best of our abilities, and for us to measure ourselves using Jesus as our plumb line, but there comes a point when it hurts too much to continue down a certain path. We must break away in order to maintain sanity.
In case you think, "She hasn't a clue what she's talking about." Let me tell you that I was given a job by God. He told me I must love someone unconditionally, no matter what he did or said. For months I followed God's lead. For months I prayed and loved unconditionally...through the friendship, through the first blush of love, through the rejection, through the callous treatment, through the removal of love, through it all. Rejoicing through the good things and weeping with him through the bad things. It was all about him. I set my needs, my wants, my desires all to the side and poured enough energy into him to light up New York City… with absolutely no reciprocation or consideration, and mostly rejection. I was flayed alive, and cut to the bone.
I found out my limit. And I found out a most enlightening Truth about God.
He has limits, too.
We are all very needy in Christ. Each one of us has unique needs and common needs. God knows that and plans for that. He nurtures us and pours out blessings over us and through us as we grow in Him we become so close to Him we begin to look like Him. But... when we take and take and never give, God quits pouring out. He has expectations and He has conditions. Selfishness has no place in God's plan for our lives. He won't tolerate a selfish attitude.
He loves unconditionally, but His blessings have conditions. He loves eternally, but eternity in heaven may begin much sooner than expected when a Christian does not do the work of God according to His purposes. There are many Scriptures for this truth and if you require them, I'll look them up and send them to you.
Jesus loved us unconditionally. He loved so much that He gave His life willingly so that we might live eternally with Him. He loved us when we were unlovable. He loved through the rejection, through the pain, through the shame of the cross. He knew the future. He knew that not all would accept the gift. He gave it anyway. He gave it for all but only a few accept. Salvation is conditional. We must first believe that God exists. We must then believe what God said; believe in Jesus and believe that He died for us and rose from the dead. If you don't believe that, then you won’t go to heaven. That is conditional.
God loved Adam and Eve, but they chose to disobey, and God had to cast them out of the Garden. That was conditional.
The father watched continuously for his prodigal son and ran to meet him when he finally saw him coming up the road. That was conditional upon the son returning.
The father never quit loving his prodigal son. The blessings were conditional, not the father's love. The son would never have received those blessings of a coat, a ring and a feast if he had not returned to the father.
That gives "Return to Me" a whole new meaning.
"Chip Shots from the Ruff of Life" from
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She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.
If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection
Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and eBookChristian.com
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