The Heart of Love

God allows us to experience the frailty of human love so we will appreciate the strength of His.

C.S. Lewis

I sighed as I picked up the dirty socks and put them in my boys’ hamper and closed their door for the night. Behind that door were two sweet boys who God was slowly transforming into young men, and all I could think about was how irritated I was that they had left their gross socks on the floor for the millionth time.

I scolded myself as I headed downstairs to clean up a messy kitchen. My heart was calling me to warm pajamas and a Hallmark movie, and I was letting a seed of bitterness take root over my calling as a mother. 

Somewhere between the dishwasher being unloaded and the dirty dishes being rinsed, I paused and let God’s nudges to my weary soul wash over me. He had been quietly prodding for the past thirty minutes, but I chose to “be busy” with my methodical nightly routine rather than lean in and listen. 

The verse I had read earlier that morning came to my mind, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love, he will exult over you with loud singing”. (Zephaniah 3:17) How ridiculous it was for me to be angry about socks and dishes when the God of the universe has chosen to come right into my dirty kitchen and sing over me!

My heart was humbled as I realized the immensity of His personal love at that moment.

As women, we are often defined by our caregiving. We are, among other things, wives, mamas, daughters, grandmas, teachers, nurses, administrators, and counselors. Rarely does God not give us someone or something to tend to, nurture, be in relationship with, and love. 

Love is hard. It requires sacrifice and perseverance. It requires daily surrender of our own wishes to benefit another, and sometimes we fail and we fail miserably. This leads to shame and we may feel that the likeness of His image becomes tainted as we struggle to find our way back to pure and holy love. But God, in His grace and holiness, walks beside us and gently nudges, guides, and forgives over and over.

A small part of Jesus’ story on this earth, records an encounter with a questionable woman and her sacrificial love. Jesus was having dinner in a prominent Pharisee’s home. “When she learned he was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and she began to wet His feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head….” (Luke 7:37, 38).

You can almost hear the gasps at her scandalous behavior. You can see the looks of criticism and the annoyance of those present. She was a woman who lived her life in a desperate search for love, acceptance, and identity. She was cloaked in shame, guilt, and regret. She was the woman who had labels placed on her and few knew her real story or saw her as anything but “that kind” of woman.

But that particular day, and for reasons only Jesus and she knew, she felt compelled to come before her King and worship.

As she worshiped, Christ sang His love song over her. Turning to those who surrounded the scene Christ said these beautiful words, “… I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven-for she loved much.  But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:47)

This is God’s love for humankind— unearned forgiveness.

What compels me in this story is seeing the determination and grit this woman endured despite the mocking and chastising around her. The Pharisee used this as a platform to question Jesus and His love in front of all his guests. Instead, he showed that he really didn’t understand what Jesus was about. Jesus took the opportunity to get to the heart of the matter.

“Your faith has saved you, go in peace”(Luke 7:50). These eight gentle words changed this woman’s life forever. She felt the love of her Savior as she experienced compassion and mercy in a way that humankind had never shown her.

Loving others means that we are willing to take the worst of someone and show them a Savior who will restore their dignity and make them their best.

This is the heart of love.

Laura Sumpter is a native of the Pacific Northwest.  She has been a teacher for over 20 years and she loves teaching children and women of all ages how to practically apply Scripture.  She counts her husband and three children as the greatest blessings of her life.  When she is not writing or teaching you can find her at the beach, in her garden, decorating her home, or playing with her family.  Laura lives each day believing that God is faithful, no matter the circumstance. She desires to express the deep and satisfying hope that only Jesus can bring.  You can find the lessons God is teaching her at her blog or on Instagram. 

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