A Four Letter Word

You would never think that a word with just 4 little letters would have such an impact on us, both Christians and not. People throw it away like it’s nothing. Some would give anything to get it. It’s a feeling, an action word, and a command all in one. When you have it, it’s sometimes not what you expected. And when it’s taken away from you, it takes quite some time to mend yourself back together. When you feel it, you’ll do anything for the person it’s directed at. And everyone on this planet is searching for it, all in their own way. And it always looks different; old hands gently caring for a life long spouse. Young hands receiving a ring and exchanging a promise. Friends supporting each other in rough times, carrying each other’s burdens. Handwritten letters flying miles over land and sea. It shows in a volunteer, when they inconvenience themselves to help another for no other reason except for this word. It looks like a blameless man being beaten, mocked, shown indecency, and sacrificing HIS life, for ours. And finally, it looks like a bunch of small red letters written on a page “You MUST love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbour as yourself” Matt. 22v37-39

The Bible spits out verses about love repeatedly, and so it starts to make me wonder– Why is this emotion, command, verb, so much more important than the others? Why does it come before joy? peace? patience? kindness? goodness? faithfulness? gentlness? self-control? I’ve contemplated this for a while now, and perhaps I’m wrong, but I think I’ve figured this out.

See, in 1 John 4v8, it’s written, “But anyone who does not love, does not know God, for GOD IS LOVE.” God is love. That’s a pretty complicated characteristic to take on. If this is true, it’d mean that any action or non-action God has taken in our lives means it was always because He loves us. Now, this gets really personal really quickly, because a lot of times we don’t see love. Not when we’re hurt. Not when we lose someone. Not when someone attacks us. And I’m not going to pretend I have a one-size-fits-all answer, because I don’t. But I have to remind myself that just because I don’t see the love the way I expect to, doesn’t mean it’s not there. And where love is, God is. Because God is love. He said so. If I ask you to be patient with a child, you could, but that doesn’t mean you love them. I could require you to be kind to everyone, but you could turn around and complain about them the minute they’re gone. But if I ask you to love them, the rest falls into place. You are patient, because you love. You are self controlled, because without that, you are not loving. Not loving to yourself, and not loving to others. And this is why I think love is so important. Because without love, everything falls apart. “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3v14

I think it’s important to remember that love always looks different. It’s so easy for us to generalize love by watching sappy romance movies, or digging into a “good old” love story, but that’s only one side of love, and usually fairly inaccurate. But love looks different, as I went over at the beginning, because God is different. He is indescribable. And if He created each one of us in His own image, and you can see how unique we all are, imagine how beautifully complicated He is. So when you remember Jesus’ command to love, you need to ask him what that looks like for you. Do you love with your words? How about your money? How do you love with your time? Can you love someone, simply by listening, by being present? Can you love by forgiving without being asked? Or by offering more than you’re comfortable doing? 

Love is big. And love is small. But at the end of the day, you can change someone’s life by just giving them love. We have all been given such a gift from Christ, and whether we receive it or not is up to us. But the greatest thing happens when we finally decide to claim it as our own. We find out how infectious it is to love. And why not give out some extra love today? It doesn’t cost you anything. In fact, you’ll find that by giving it away, you gain it back multiplied.

Love. Never. Dies.

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

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I am…

Ask my at any given point what I am, and you’re bound to get a variety of answers. I am happy. I am satisfied. I am confused. I am feeling blessed. I am nervous. I am a photographer. I am a writer. I am a free spirit. I am uncommitted. I am lonely. I am present. And on the other hand, it’s humorous because you could ask me what I am at any time, and I could say ” I don’t know today.”

And even though I sound like I’m dealing with a million personalities, I AM all these things. And sometimes it gets exhausting trying to sort them all out, only presenting certain sides of myself to certain people. But then I think about it, and I smile. Because I’m (almost) always myself, and even though I sometimes have to sensor who that is, I am accepted. I am loved. I am depended on, which makes me stable, makes me feel needed, and even a bit important. And so I have a question. A question for you. 

What do you need to hear?

I enjoy this online way of sharing my heart. I love writing, as it’s become a major part of my story. But I don’t do this online thing for myself. Just this morning I was thinking about how there hasn’t been a day in the past 9 months where I haven’t written something. (With the exception of –almost– dying while hiking through PNG.) Some days it’s 7 journal pages, sometimes I barely get through my second sentence. Maybe I’m super charged because of my recent Francis Chan stint, or maybe feeling like giving back intentionally because of Donald Miller. Either way, you get the last say. Let me know. Comment here. These comments I’ll keep to myself, and I’ll write about them. Tell me about your hearts, tell me what you care about, what effects your days the most, and what you love about life. Ask me your questions, tell me your struggles. And somewhere along the lines, you’ll get a post, just for you. (Secretively, of course!)

So, to continue the theme. Today, I am sick. But I am also clothed, fed, comfortable, surrounded by family, dreaming of Georgia and the Passion 2012 conference in January. (By the way, if you for some reason want to sponsor me to go, let’s chat!) I am looking forward to the last few weddings of the year, excited about the new church I’ve been visiting, and slowly learning more about the way God guides.

So what about you? What are you?

 

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

21 and feeling fine…

Yes. Today is my birthday, and so far, it’s been pretty.. ordinary. What’s that? No, I don’t feel older. I certainly don’t act older, just have a visit at our dinner table and you’ll see. But besides all that, I do feel very happy. Very.. blessed. Because of all the ordinary things, yes. Receiving a full 20 years of health, adventure and wisdom. Because of the explorations I’ve been on, through this earth, through His book, and through my heart. But most of all, I’m feeling blessed because of all of you.

I spent the majority of my day with one of the world’s cutest 3 year olds, who would run up to me every 5 minutes, give me a hug, and yell “Happy Birfday Samamfa!!” It was great. And during his down time, I got to dig into one of my beautiful gifts, Donald Miller’s newest read, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. SO. GOOD. I got through 135 pages, and I’m feeling good. Basically he’s writing a story about stories. The idea sounds beyond boring, but every page, I catch myself agreeing, underlining, being in awe of God and His awesomeness. One of the best quotes comes when Don is talking about the way an author feels when they are creating a plot, and He likens the experience to when God was writing our stories. He says ” If I have a hope, it’s that God sat over the dark nothing and wrote you and me, specifically, into the story, and put us in with the sunset and the rainstorm as though to say, Enjoy your place in my story. The beauty of it means you matter, and you can create within it even as I have created you.

How beautiful is that? I messaged my mom, the wonderful one who purchased this gift, and said “I love Michael Bublè because he sings to my heart. I love Donald Miller because he writes to my heart.” If I could write a book, it’d be a mix between the two of those, and that might be scary.

I don’t have much else to say today, which is surprising. I just wanted to say thanks, I guess. Thank you to all the wonderful people who make my life worth living. To the ones that encourage me to grow, to learn, to give, and to just be. Thank you to God for the adventure that I get to call my life, whether it’s far away in a different country, or here, where I find myself right now. Thank you to the ones who expect more from me, and the friends who know when I need to let everything out, and listen, so gracefully.

Last night I experienced another one of those overwhelming moments. After God delivered big time with a night I desperately (unknowingly) needed, I sat in my car and just thought about Him, about where He’s taken me, and where exactly He’s leading me. I thanked Him for His sacrifices, reminding myself of what He gave up, because of the things I choose to NOT give up for Him. Guilt, thankfulness, nervousness and excitement rushed over my faint little heart, and I let it happen. And that, my friends, is the ramblings of this 21 year old heart.

Thanks to each one of you who influences me in one way or another. From near or far, you have made 20 worth it. I look forward to exploring 21 with you, adding a few new experiences and mental notes to my heart. Let’s do this together.

With (beautiful) Strength that is not my own, Sam

Weird, but Beautiful

So I’ve gotten a bit more intentional about reaching out with my blog. Hence all the tags and categories and more of that boring stuff. So I get notified when someone is referred to my blog through Google, and it also (handy!) tells me what they searched in order to stumble upon it. Mostly it’s stuff about YWAM, transitions, even PNG! But yesterday was the best one yet.

Someone searched “weird, but beautiful”

I love that. I guess if that was the theme of my life I’d be pretty happy. I’m not really sure what this string of words is about, but I wanted to share that with you. It made me smile, hopefully it worked for you too.

On another note, I finished my journal from Australia. It was a long time coming, too. When I was there, I made it a point to write everyday. I guess you would know, but I love writing. There’s something about putting ink to paper and letting it all go, it’s my own personal release. I heal. I learn. I remember. I remind myself. So much happens, and I love it. I found the perfect quote the other day, it really explains writing for me.

“Ink on paper is as beautiful to me as flowers on the mountain. God composes, why shouldn’t we?”

And, as I was warned, after coming back from such a spiritual journey, the journal went on the back burner. I found myself writing when I was frustrated, or at the point where I was willing to throw it all away. Please tell me this happens to you too. But I smartened up. I realized how awful it was going to taste to me to have to read a book of complaints years from now. And really, what else would I do with these journals? I write to learn, and I love when I can look back and see it. So I’ve added some beauty to it. Some (many) happy thoughts, great things that God’s been saying to me. Notes about friends that have really blessed me. A huge entry about the optimism I hold for my future. And in my last entry, I learned even more.

Right now I am grounded. As I finished off my journal, I did a bit of an overview. A review of this past stretch, gathered pieces of my heart together, and really focused on how I’ve changed, and what remains the same. And of all the times I’ve asked God to send me somewhere, anywhere, I’m settled here. Is that ok? Yes. For now. I’m satisfied with the fact that I’m doing what He needs me to do. I’m waiting, actively, and enjoying my life (for the most part). This doesn’t mean I’m grounded here, never to leave again. Promises like that aren’t mine to make. But it means that I’m going to bloom where I’m planted. I recapped a conversation I had with God when I was in PNG, fretting about my next step, and it made me laugh. How often do we worry too much about something that hasn’t even happened yet. Or better yet, we worry because we don’t know what will happen, but automatically assume the worst. That’s where I was, and God waited quietly for me to babble on and on, trying to figure it out on my own, until He whispered a simple “I’ve got this”, and I shut up.

And I guess with all these words, I’m simply trying to say that I’m still learning. I’m learning how to trust, and I’m excited to see where I can give Him more and more room to surprise me. I’m learning that His plans are, contrary to my instincts, much better than mine. I’m learning that if He needs me somewhere, He will make it clear enough for me to understand, and I don’t have to doubt my ability to hear Him. And even better, I’m learning to give it back. Give back the love, give back the blessings, give back the knowledge. And hopefully each of you is in a better spot because of that.

And when it all gets quiet, when the words stop flowing through the ink, I’m left overwhelmed. I’m overwhelmed by the One who made me, and wants to know me. By the fact that my life is important to Him, and that I can always come back. Always.

Yet I still belong to You.

YOU HOLD MY RIGHT HAND. 

You guide me with your counsel,

leading me to a glorious destiny.

Whom have I in heaven but you?

Psalm 73v.23, 24, 25

love, love, love,

With Strength that is not my own, Sam