What Do I Know of Calvary Love?

Yesterday was a day where I was in awe of myself. And I don’t mean in a good way. Pretty sure I have NEVER been in awe of myself in a good way. No, this was one of those times when the ugly face of SELF rears her beastly head and I am horrified because I realize that she is completely unable to do that without my express permission. So disgusting. I was pretty sure I needed to close down the blog and take a vow of silence and then God began to speak, “Nice try, Dear. I tell you to do something, you blow it, so your job for Me goes undone? Oh no, a vow of silence would be far too easy. I don’t think so. Get ready to eat pie. And I don’t mean a slice. It’s humble pie-eating contest time. Shove it in, Champ.” And yes, when that is what I need to hear, I do hear Him speak that way sometimes. (Oh wait, you can’t hear me because I’m mumbling. Oh, believe me, I still have pie in my mouth.) It had been coming due to several things over the last few weeks, but particularly since the weekend. Exhaustion was playing a part, but mostly just tiny choice after tiny choice to choose SELF. And as I did, she grew. My husband saw it coming and had very kindly made some suggestions to help me find the room to deal properly with it. But in my all-knowing amazingness (insert intensely sarcastic tone there), I knew I was fine. I could keep right on going and will myself through this. So as soon as I woke up in the morning I received Blow #1 (oomph). Dealing with that and then Blow #2 (biff). Conversation with John where he warns me yet again to take precautions. I listen with awesome wifely attention and proceed to do the opposite, hence I receive Blow #3 (sock). And I just knew it was going to be okay. I would not let my emotions get the best of me. Mind over matter. And with Blow #4 (wham) all of the sudden I unleashed the beast. I choose those words carefully. It was not something that happened to me; I was not a victim of the situations occurring that morning. Nope, just my choices each day for SELF that had led to my opening that door wider and wider. And I blew it with probably the last person on the planet that I would have chosen to hurt right now. I bit it so hard I will be picking gravel out of my teeth for a while. I chose harsh words to communicate my frustrations. Frustrations, many of which had absolutely nothing to do with her. And the minute I did it the Heaviness appeared. Oh, that Heaviness. The grief of my Holy Spirit Counselor. No words, just grief. And as I began the process of rationalizing my behavior, still no words, just felt that shake of His head as He disagreed with my assessment. Until I gradually made my way all the way down to disbelieving, horrified, shocked, disgust at the fact that I would choose to hurt someone with the way I said something. And yes, He assured me, it was a choice and now I was getting closer to the truth. At this point I was sobbing, humbled, and very sure that I would rather have everyone else in the world be awful to me than choose the misery of hurting another person with my words again. I didn’t eat all day, I called John crying twice and he never once said “I told you so” although it would have been VERY appropriate. I’m pretty sure he wanted to come home and check I.D. and figure out where his wife went when I told him what I had done. Facing the fact that I had hurt her was only topped by the fact that I knew I had disappointed God. He had called me to love and I had chosen SELF over what He had given me strength and power to do. With each thought I didn’t capture, with each attitude I didn’t surrender I had put SELF over HIM.

A few days ago, a Facebook friend put as her status a quote by Amy Carmichael. If you are not familiar with her life, I encourage you to spend some time getting to know her story. I promise you will be challenged, inspired, and humbled by the sold-out, Christ-filled love she had for some of the most unloveable. She was a missionary for many, many years, mostly in India to the children there in the first half of the 1900’s. As I read her quote and thought back to her writings, I realized I couldn’t put my hands on the book this quote was from. So I ordered it. And in the way He has worked countless millions of times before, in the midst of my mourning over my failure, the doorbell rang. It is just a good thing that delivery man escaped with his life because when I saw that box I burst into tears. What do you want to bet Amazon had no idea their little brown boxes could elicit that response from a housewife? You’ll understand in a minute. The title of this book is “If – What Do I Know of Calvary Love?” I had felt the Lord challenging me to take a look at her words again and to ask Him to show me what was missing in my heart of His Calvary Love for others. And as I read it, I find myself instead of seeing what’s missing, wondering as she did the night she wrote it, what is there in me of Calvary Love? I am so far. So far. But with everything I have, I want the heart that is represented there, taken from her love of the Word and her long relationship with her Father. From a life of dying to self and taking up her cross. I knew it was going to hurt to pick up that book, but I braced myself and cried through the introduction, already convicting enough, until I got to the first page and read,

If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting ‘who made thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou hast not received?’ then I know nothing of Calvary love.

I’m pretty sure at this point it was a good thing my stomach was empty. And I went to my Lord and said, I know nothing. And I went to my friend and begged her forgiveness which was graciously, lovingly given. I may very well have forfeited the right to hear her heart in the same way without fear of my frustration spewing out all over her, but, believe me, this was a lesson that sunk down to my core and will stay there. So I go forward with the completely unfathomable forgiveness of my Father…AGAIN…and the gracious forgiveness of a friend and wonder, with love like this, how do I ever stray so far from Calvary Love?

So with a bit of fear and trembling, I take my Lord up on the challenge He has given me, knowing that He will also equip me with everything I need to face my own worst enemy, my SELF. I am going to post each week another quote from this book and what He shows me as I travel through the conviction inside. And it may take a dentist visit after the gravel and humble pie, but perhaps I will come through it refined even a little so that I might reflect the tiniest glimpses of that beautiful LOVE.

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