Upside Down Love

UPSIDE DOWN LOVE

John 3:16

You guys know this one. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

But, I wonder, do you know about John?

As I’ve studied more about the Bible, I’ve learned more about John. (I usually relate more to the disciple Peter—the one who spoke boldly, but then would waver and screw up—I totally relate to that.) But this John refers to himself as “the disciple who Jesus loved.”

Why don’t I relate to that more? Why don’t all of us relate to that more?

Love.

eng-103

Love and Marriage Engagement photo by Greenlight Photography

 

It’s the statue in Old Town Scottsdale that my fiancé and I took our engagement photos around.

It’s what we promised to do “until death do us part.”

It’s on the coffee mug that I bought for him on our three year anniversary.

And he loved that coffee mug.

So much so, that he uses it every day.

Little did I know that it couldn’t go in the dishwasher…and my husband is really busy in the morning: up at 4 am, out the door by 6 am, back home at 6 pm to grade papers. He’s a teacher, so he often doesn’t have time to wash the dishes in the sink.

And that irritates me. Every day.

I mean, how much effort does it take to wash that mug? Obviously, too much for him.

So, every day, that LOVE cup sits there and talks to me from the sink, “Remember that fight where you were wrong? And he forgave you even before you admitted you were wrong?” It urges, “WASH ME.”

Then there’s this other voice that speaks up, “JEEZ— it’s your day off—didn’t he even think you might want to do nothing today?”

Back and forth. Two opposing voices. One on each shoulder battling it out over LOVE inside me

But something is happening.

—-

“In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:10

I was walking and talking with a friend about an exquisite (and very expensive!) piece of art that she and her husband had both admired and then decided to “splurge” and to purchase. Having this piece for their very own would allow them to be enchanted by it on a daily basis. But it was like she had to justify it to me.

“It’s really spectacular. But beyond that, the artist is a genuinely nice guy. He has helped me when I was hurting, encouraged me when I was struggling, and he’s been there for me in so many ways,” she explained. “I love this piece we bought. It represents so much. I already loved it and because I know the creator of it, it makes me love it even more!”

—-

I have been struggling with some defensive, gossip-y, and often down-right mean individuals with whom I share an office building. There are times when I walk in the room and suddenly they hush up.  Hmm…

Other times, I’ve overheard the complaining and back-talking about others in the workplace and, yes, there are times when I get sucked into the talk.

It’s a slippery slope.

And once I get sucked in to the “conversation,” it is quite difficult to get out. Then I feel awful. I feel worse than I did when I believed it was me that was being talked about.  This back and forth struggle of opposing forces in the world…Where’s the LOVE?

But something is happening.

“In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.” Psalm 95: 4-5

I’ve been reading my Bible; studying the stories about the Creator of the universe.

“By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” NIV Psalm 33:6. “The LORD merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed, and all the stars were born.”

It’s something to wrap your brain around—a Creator who can just exhale and out comes the Milky Way! And what’s cool is that the very same “star breathing” Creator also made you and me; breathing His breath into us as we are born.

And, as told to us beautifully by John, that same Creator loves us so much that he sent his one and only son, Jesus, to earth to show us what Love is.

The more I study, the more I read about this unconditional, faithful, immeasurable LOVE, the more I want of it!

John, the one who Jesus loved, tells us :

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”-John 15:13

And it gets even more crazy. This LOVE that Jesus teaches throughout the Bible in Luke 6:29 says, “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.”

Hmmm…

And, ultimately, even more remarkable is the type of love discussed in Romans 5:8:

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

A true representation at the Cross: A love that died for the sinner that repented AND died for the one who didn’t.

The more I read, study, discover, ponder… something is happening to me

I think my friend hit on this when she so wisely observed, because I know the creator, it makes me love even more.

LOVE

On those days when I am exhausted and just want to do NOTHING, it urges me to not only wash the LOVE mug, but to do ALL the laundry, get to the grocery store, make lunches for the week and send him a text that I’m thinking of him and praying for his day…

But that’s my husband.

I can grasp the brotherly love; the parental type of love that would sacrifice one self for those you love. But to die for the ones who are asking for your shirt? Slapping your face? Betraying you? Disappointing you?

I’ve heard it said, “Those least deserving of our love, are the ones most needing of it.”

That’s upside down.

And yet, I am suddenly reminded of those times I listened to the “other voice.” The times I slid down the slippery slope and got involved in the gossip, and played a part in things that were UN-loving— No wonder I don’t associate myself as one who Jesus loved—do I deserve it?

“I am the thorn in your crown, but you love me anyway”-Sidewalk Prophets

And then I read about Jesus explaining why he took on flesh and came to the earth in Mathew, Mark and Luke–He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.” 

Those, like me, who struggle with those two opposing forces. Those, like me and Peter, those who keep screwing up.

A Savior was sent because we need saving!

I read about Jesus’s last moments on earth- nestled between those two thieves, listening to their voices. Two souls in opposition fighting it out.

He reconciled it for the repentant sinner who listened to the voice of LOVE.

AND He reconciled it for the one who rejected Him.

Jesus did it for the Johns and for the Peters.

For those who are well and for the sick.

For the you’s and the me’s.

Willing to die for every last one of us.

As he exhaled his last breath on earth, He loved.

Oh how I wish I could love like that.

But something is happening to me—The more I experience my Creator’s mercy toward me, the more I am moved to extend it to those I’m struggling with. But not on my own. Without my Helper, that kind of forgiveness or tolerance is much too difficult. But with Him, I don’t have to do it alone—He who is in me is  much greater than me. He can do the things that I cannot.

I recall over my life, how my Creator has been there when I was hurting, I sense His LOVE and encouragement when I’m struggling, and I see His artwork all around me uplifting me and speaking to me in so many ways. I see it in my husband as he bears with me when I don’t wash his LOVE mug every day. And, as I allow my life to be turned upside down, He allows me to see the pain in those that have hurt me instead of myself.

As I learn more and more about the power of His LOVE, the more I Listen to the voice that says  “WASH ME.”

The more of Him (and less of me!), the more His Upside down kind of LOVE is available in me—To be poured out to a hurting world from my own Love cup.

I want to know Him more.

And then I found out about Peter. That disciple that I relate to the most.

“According to Christian tradition, Peter was crucified in Rome under Emperor Nero Augustus Caesar. It is traditionally held that he was crucified upside down at his own request, since he saw himself unworthy to be crucified in the same way as Jesus.”-Wikipedia

A love so impactful it cannot help but completely turn everything upside down.

I see how this Upside down Love, proven at the Cross, is poured out on the World from The Creator’s Love cup.

And this love, His work of art accomplished at the Cross, although very expensive, (priceless really,) is available for us all to have for FREE, to be enchanted by it every day.

That’s upside down.

IMG_20180423_121341557.jpg

What’s Your Worth?

Image

Envision the Capital One commercial with the Vikings stating, “What’s in your wallet?”–
WHAT’s YOUR WORTH?

Niki Lauda, the former Formula One race car driver from the Ron Howard movie RUSH (a great rivalry movie!) = $100 million

John Wayne = $50 million (Even after he’s dead!)

David Baldacci, the author = $45 million

Gisele Bundchen (the Brazilian model) = $250 million (I picked the wrong career!) *tongue in cheek*

J.K. Rowling, another author = $1 Billion (Okay—Maybe there’s hope!) 😉

Angelina Jolie= $27 million (Even without Brad Pitt!)

Howard Stern and Magic Johnson are tied with $500 million each
(Data gathered from http://www.celebritynetworth.com & Forbes)

A few curious findings:
Pam Anderson and Nicholas Cage= $0 (Apparently some tax issues tangled them up.)
Also mind-blowing to me, the following people all filed for bankruptcy (some more than once) and bounced back from it:
Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Walt Disney, Willie Nelson, Burt Reynolds and Henry Ford.
(www.moneyreign.com)

So, the question: What are you worth?

I was 17 and grappling with what college to attend and what to study to obtain this so-called “success.”

So I began questioning people.

“What does it mean to be successful?”

Most people answered by citing a famous person they aspired to be like (such as those above) and all answers described the visuals of success: a four car garage with each bay filled with an Italian performance car, the climbing of the corporate ladder, the growing amount of their investments, the lavish amounts of time off and money to travel, etc.

One person answered different. It stuck with me. I will summarize what this very wise individual said, “Success is different for each person. Mostly, I think it is to dream and achieve those dreams, while living a life that honors God with those dreams.”

This didn’t help me in deciding on my college (Go BUFFS!) or what major to declare (not surprisingly I chose sociology!), but it did help me years later, when I was in jeopardy of losing the career and title I’d worked to obtain.

My identity and value was tightly wrapped around my work and how well I did it. “Ten minutes early is ten minutes late” was one of my mottos. I dressed for a position higher than I was in and always took extra training classes and afterwards submitted reports of what I learned to my superiors. Intense study and exams, several interviews, a detailed background investigation, drug testing, and a polygraph took months before I was hired by the police department. Then the full year of “hands-on” training were required (all on night shift) before I was certified by the State of Arizona. I loved the meticulousness of my position. I felt I made a difference in my work when I became the lead trainer a year later and, when asked, I held my head high as I announced I was a fingerprint identification technician at Scottsdale’s crime lab.

And when my situation changed and this was all in jeopardy of evaporating away, the proverbial rug was ripped out from under me. My talents, skills, daily duties, position, pay check and performance all came crashing down around me. Couple this with some health issues and a loved one diagnosed with terminal cancer and I was spiraling out of control. To say I was on my knees was an understatement.

But sometimes, on our knees is just where we are supposed to be.

I didn’t know where to turn, what to do or how to do it, but I knew I still had dreams. I let go of my need to control, released my need to know and, as those wise words about success echoed forward into my consciousness, I laid my life at the feet of the One who planted those dreams in me and the One who is always in control.

With the recession stripping many of their positions, their homes and their identities, this question of WORTH is on a lot of people’s minds.

What is one life worth?

Is it just about the $$$’s above, or about a title attached or possessions obtained? Or what the person can offer? What if that person is sick or very old? Or, very, very young?

Strip people of their millions, their talents, their titles, power, possessions and what’s left?

Is what’s left a life worth dying for?

Take it ALL away and you find out what you are made of–

“…the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)

–You are dust.

The loss of these “things” is no small matter. They are big, and deep and wounding things to lose. But we have a God who is bigger, deeper, wider and so much more mind-blowing-ly powerful.

“You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us”
-Lyrics from Gungor’s “Beautiful Things”

He makes good things from dust.

“By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” (Psalm 33:6)

God breathes in, taking in the common element of oxygen, and exhales, emitting the stars and galaxies into existence!

And the same God breathes into us.

The same God, regardless of our dusty title, dwindling possessions, meager abilities, lack of talent, unrealized dreams, stripped power or embarrassing net worth, believed we were worth dying for; worthy of sending His Son to die on a cross.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

So the next time you compare yourself to “the Jones’s,” stress out about your pay check, feel hopeless toward job prospects and the slippery success you sought after; remember you are valuable.

In spite of your efforts, regardless of your talents or where you find yourself, your life is worth the death of a King.