I have a dear friend who read my post on Monday about God’s Love. He wrote a response to that post that I asked if I could post here. He consented after making a few revisions and I am happy to post it here today.
Its a lesson I think we all should learn- myself included!!
While I was reading your post about God’s law vs. love, it resonated with me on a few levels. I believe this is because the past 10-20 years of my life have been focused on the law of God, and not his love. In my mind, I had tied the law to love, as a prerequisite for receiving the love. As a result, when I did not feel loved, I blamed myself for whatever law I was failing at. It was certainly not conducive to being closer with God.
After reading your post, I thought I would also attempt to share some new revelations I have had in my personal walk with God. While reading them I expect it to sound simple and obvious, yet for me, it took me quite a while to see…five months of fighting my own heart to be specific.
As a writer, and storyteller, I cannot simply sum this up in a few words…it requires setting the scene, invoking emotions…sharing my heart, and then the truth I found.
Not too long ago, there was a young lady who captured my attention, and over time, my heart. However, as is often the case, she was not aware of my interest at first. When I did eventually ask her on a date, she turned me down.
Traditional advice at that point is to move on, allow the feelings to dissipate, and keep looking while pursuing God. On the surface that advice sounded reasonable and logical. Likely due to my desire to not be single, and there not being anyone else in my life whom I was interested in at that time, this young lady did not dissipate from my thoughts. It felt instead like the emotions became stronger.
I began pouring my heart out to God even more than before, I begged him to change my heart. I also fervently asked God to bring me closer to him, to make his love more known to me, and to give me his heart for people. I desired to love people the way God loves them.
After close to five months of pleading with God for liberation from the desires my heart continued to feel, I was at the end of myself and the end of the advice from those closest to me. I went to one more source of advice in a Christian counselor who had helped me in the past. Her assessment and advice for my situation was not what I expected, yet it brought life to my soul, and joy to my heart. It validated, and vindicated my heart rather than heaping more judgment and condemnation on me.
Her assessment of my situation was that while I was learning about this young lady, my heart moved from a friendship type love (the Greek word being phileo), to a more romantic type love (eros), and after finding that love to not be reciprocated, I tried to go back to phileo. The problem was that God never intended for love to work like that.
In the Bible there are four main types of love portrayed, Storge (a family love), Phileo (love between friends), Eros (romantic love), and Agape (unconditional love). God’s love for us is Agape love. It is a perfect love that is unconditional; nothing in the past, present or future can ever change it or affect it. In John 13:34 God tells us to love each other with agape love…without conditions, without expectations, with the potential of never receiving anything back…ever.
Hopefully you can see how impossible this would be to accomplish within our own power. The only way we can possibly have agape love for those around us is by having Gods heart within us. In order to have his perfect love, we need him.
The counselors’ advice for me was to stop trying to go backward in God’s design and instead push forward, push further into God’s presence, and allow my heart to experience and feel God’s agape love. The pain I had felt till that point was from selfishness, it was based upon unrequited love, and if I moved forward into agape love, the pain would no longer have a place, or a hold, over my life…my expectations, and desires would no longer be the driving force.
If you do not see the irony in what I spent 5 months doing, let me clarify. I spent hours upon hours, begging God to give me his heart, to bring me closer to him, and to make my heart more like his. In essence, I was asking for God to give me his agape love. He was trying to give me that love for this young lady. In the same breath that I was asking him for this agape love, I was also begging him to take away what I was feeling. I was selfishly looking at what I did not have, and failing to see what God was trying to give me. I should have been asking God to take away my selfish desires.
There is a quote I read just recently by Toby Mac that fits very well with my experience. “Sometimes God does not change your situation because He is trying to change your heart”. As much as I wanted my circumstances to change, God wanted my heart to change. God was waiting for my heart to reach a point of being ready to hear, and willing to change, and then he provided the revelation to my mind. My next steps are to respond to his revelation. He is calling me to step closer to him by learning to love people with his heart and not through my own power alone.
If you are asking what agape love looks like, the Bible describes it in 1 Corinthians 13 “…Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
This revelation is exciting to me, as it has opened my eyes to understanding God’s heart just a little bit more. God also made it clear to me, that I need his agape love for the type of marriage relationship I hope to have in the future.