2 months & 23 days

There are only 84 days left before we leave our beloved church to head out to Southeast Asia.

I miss them already…

Our brothers & sisters in Christ

Our co-workers for Christ

The flock that God has entrusted to us

This body that we have belonged to for almost 6 years

When a pastor & his wife begin a new ministry, and I’m sure it will be the same with missionaries, you make the decision from the start to love the people God has placed under your care. You cannot minister without it.

But as you worship together, serve & pray together, have fellowship, laugh & cry together, you find yourself when you are least expecting that you are in love with those around you. You begin to listen, care & pray for them, not because you should, not because you are commanded, but because these have become almost second nature, something that you don’t have to think about.

Sometimes I hear people say that they don’t understand why the other person isn’t responding to their love & remain unresponsive when they are trying so hard to love them. I have to point out that is exactly the problem that they have to try so hard. No one wants to believe that people have to put out an effort to love them.

Genuine love makes the rest of the Fruit of the Spirit like joy, peace, patience, kindness & etc. possible & natural. And love empowers us to hope in all things. But this is where it gets a little bit tricky because unconditional love always makes us vulnerable.

In the book, Faith & Doubt, the author John Ortberg retells a conversation between 2 characters in one of my all time favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption. Two inmates are played by Morgan Freeman & Tim Robbins. Morgan Freeman’s character, Red who has been institutionalized since he was a teen shares his wisdom with Tim Robbins’ character, Andy. He says, “Hope is a dangerous thing… Hope can break your heart.”

This answers why some are hesitant & reluctant to enter others’ lives because when you do, you will inevitably care for that person making you vulnerable. We don’t like to be in that position.

The One who has taken the greatest risk to make Himself vulnerable was no other than Jesus Christ.

He could’ve certainly loved us from afar, from His glory, as God should, but He chose to clothe Himself in frail humanity & entered this world to live among us.

But the reason for incarnation was not so that by dwelling among us He may care about us & find Himself drawn to us.

No

Because He has always loved us… but by grace

It means that His love cannot be influenced in any way. Not by our ugliness, not by our failures, not even by our betrayal.

His love is unconditional as you may already know.

For us, to know whether we love someone or not, we must spend time with him or her & get to know that person better, but not so with our Lord.

If Jesus already knew that He loves us, why did He become one of us? He came to save us. But what I’m trying to get at is that Jesus came so that we may discover the empowering truth that we are loved by God.

This must be the aim of our ministry & missions to help the lost & nominal Christians to discover this truth that sets them free to love again, be vulnerable again & of course to hope again.

Even though the time comes when those we have given our hearts to cannot be with us because of one love, the love, we can hope for beauty, health & glory for all of us.

The movie, The Shawshank Redemption comes to a close with the released prisoner Red finally reuniting with Andy who had escaped to a beautiful seashore of Mexico, and as they come together with big smiles on their faces, Red’s final words in the movie were, “I hope…”

I also hope…