And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.1 Corinthians 13:13
What is your heart looking like today? If you were to imagine a reflection of it, which is what other people see, would it be the soft pulsating organ, or would the reflection look like graffiti on an abandoned warehouse, or would it be like a pile of rubbish hidden behind bars or perhaps the reflection of a crumbling ageing wall, tired from the journey, wanting rest?
The love, grace and mercy we have received from God should be apparent in our lives, not just on Sunday when we are as a congregation on our best behaviour, but that best behaviour should be apparent all day, every day.
It should be the way we are, to our children, to our parents, to family, to friends, to enemies and to any random person we meet in our everyday life. The checkout person, the bank teller, the teacher, the pupil, all can see the reflection of our heart, let us make it a beautiful reflection.
Sometimes stuff happens that makes us revert to type, how other people have seen us in our past comes to the fore, we have to fight against that and keep our hearts and the reflection of our hearts as it is now. The broken-hearted remade into a soft loving heart that lives in the grace and mercy we have received and that wonderful love we have been given for free from the Lord.
Staying calm in the face of adversity makes the adversary unsure. The work that is going on in them is not from God, so being still and staying calm un-nerves them, they can’t understand it, they don’t “get” the difference in us. I was at a lady’s house once a couple of years ago, she vehemently attacked me for being still whilst the conversation was going around, but in my stillness, I was given a glimpse of a horrific ordeal from many years ago, long forgotten, not even on my radar of stuff to deal with, at her hands. In her vehemence I saw the real her, not the lady she presented to the world, I caught a glimpse of her heart and it was ugly, I saw images of extreme brutality, of extreme violence and all coated in sugar.
She has no idea that the thirty minutes I spent with her led me down a path, a wonderfully blessed path of redemption, of forgiveness, of love because I didn’t want the reflection of my heart to have Myra Hindley in the mix, I couldn’t live with that bitterness and hatred and I realised I needed to change so I didn’t end up scared, alone, full of barriers and walls.
That was 2003, and it has taken me on a wild journey but I can honestly say my heart is soft, and nothing can change that unless I allow it. I have been made into a new creation, for which I am eternally grateful, and now facing a situation that doesn’t make human sense to me, watching a drama enfolds having that question in my head, “Why do bad things….?” and being able to remain at peace, be still, rest in the arms of the Lord, waiting with patience, the answer will come, the words needed will come. Even facing the unthinkable, with the Lord makes it so much easier to bear.
I look back, just over 20 months to a similar situation, how it took me completely by surprise, the emotional response, blindsided by how much I loved this person. Today, I pondered had I instead of becoming soft had become hard because I was able to cope better. And the answer came, no, my heart is soft, I am not hardened to the situation, I have been prepared for this time, but more than that, this time I have my head resting against the shoulder of the Lord, the strength is not my own but the Lord’s. The emotions are the same, I am distraught and yet able to continue my daily life. The difference was noted, and I was able to share my faith with someone else grieving.
Faith, hope and love, along with the unending grace and mercy, allows us to be a true reflection, not distorted by things blindsiding us, not distorted by the past, not distorted by momentary reactions in the present. Yes, we are going to get angry, be hurt, grieve, but we can let them go, we can place those emotions at the foot of the Cross and we can continue unburdened by them. We can see the rays of light through the cloud that help us and strengthen us enabling us to carry on.