Valentine's Day is here, and images of hearts emerge everywhere. But, how is my heart and yours? Missionaries tell of how we came to our respective fields of service to love the people. Sounds easy, doesn't it? And, of course, it is what every supporter (and God) expects of their missionary. It's truly the desire of most of us. If I had to guess, I'd say most missionaries won't admit how hard it is at times to love the people they serve.
So let's examine the myth (the traditional story). You know the one. "We love the people we serve." Let me say; it's only God's love that allows us to love the people we serve. We love them because of God's love. However, you don't have to be on the mission field to find it hard to love others. Let's face it; some people are hard to love––maybe I'm one of them.
On the field, we serve the unwanted, the poor, the not so clean, and sometimes even the wealthy who want nothing to do with God. But, God loves us all and desires for all to hear His Word and know and love Him.
How many times have I said, "These are the people we came to love." When I see a two-year-old child playing on a busy road with little clothing my first remark is, "Where is that mother?" And, not with loving words do I spit those words from my mouth. It's heartbreaking. Or, how about when the people I came to love don't want to hear about God and despise me? Do I love that person? It's not easy but possible. But how?
If we're honest, most of us know people who unnerve us. It may be a family member or even a good friend, but they are there to stay--stuck in our lives. So what can we do about these unlovable ones in our lives?
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (TLB)
"If I had the gift of being able to speak in other languages without learning them and could speak in every language there is in all of heaven and earth, but didn't love others, I would only be making noise...If I gave everything I have to the poor people, and if I were burned alive for preaching the Gospel but didn't love others, it would be of no value whatever."
There you have it--just making noise. I must love that mother who doesn't care for her children, and cuddle the dirty and unloving. That is God's love--not mine. So instead of making noise with my words, I must speak with God's love and show His love. Only then will I make lovely noise.
The world begins the big love celebration in a few days, Valentine's Day. Let's celebrate God's love every day with a year-long Valentine's Day. The noise we make can wake a soul to find God but only with lovely noise that is from God's heart! Let's make lovely noise this Valentine's Day and not only love the lovable but the unlovable also. They too need God's love that flows through us.
Let me add one thing to clarify how much missionaries love the people we serve--no matter how hard. We know that we love them when we cry as much leaving them behind to go on furlough as we do when we leave our family and friends after furlough. We do love the people we serve. It's not always easy, but with God's love, it is possible.
Celebrate God's heart this Valentine's Day–-with chocolate too. I'm sure God loves chocolate! He made it for us. He loves us that much--and much, much more.
Let's be of value and make lovely noise with our words.
Happy Valentine's Day––all year long!