Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Love, Actually Pay It Forward

This is not a post about movie mashups, and it's not about Love, Actually or Pay It Forward.  But when I got to the end of the article I couldn't come up with a better title.  1000 points and titling rights for my next article for anyone who leaves a comment with a better title.

Last Tuesday was Valentine's Day.  The next morning I was in chapel with the DFUMC Preschool.  I love spending time with those kids, mostly because the laugh at me and think my drawings are funny.  I'm convinced this is because my drawings look a lot like theirs, except that mine have a hint of Bob Ross in them.

Just imagine this, only with magic marker and
drawn by a four-year-old.  Also, much like Jimmy
Chitwood in my previous post, I'm a little jealous of his hair.

But last week I didn't do drawings for them.  I began by observing that just the previous day I had seen people behaving oddly--and wondered if they had noticed the same thing.  Chocolate.  Balloons.  Flowers.  Chocolate.  Decorative boxes stuffed with cards and candy.  Chocolate.  Chocolate.  Lots of folks wearing red.  What did it all mean?  Why, I wondered aloud, would everybody be doing all these odd things?  A boy in the third row had the answer: love.

Love has a funny way of making people do strange things, and I've been thinking about that ever since chapel last week.  It's not just Valentine's Day (though there certainly is a high concentration of odd-ness that day).  For about 8 weeks this winter I've headed over to Briarlake Baptist church on Thursday and Saturday, either to take my kids to basketball practice, or to go to one of their games (well, except for the two Saturdays I was out of town...Lisa has actually been to all of them).  First, how odd that a Methodist would find his way to a Baptist church.  Second, watching a bunch of second and third graders learn how to play basketball is not exactly what I would consider quality entertainment (except when they score on the wrong goal...that is actually quite funny).  Anyway, the point is I do this with my kids because I love them.  I want them to learn to play organized sports, and to improve their fitness and coordination.  But if I'm honest, mostly I am there for them because I want them to know I love them and will always be there for them.

There's no condition on the love I have for my kids.  There's nothing they did to earn it.  There's nothing they can do to escape it.  Believe me, they have tried.  I love them because they are.  And while I may at times find this or that trait annoying (to be clear, usually it's a trait that comes from me), I love who they are.

I don't expect them to pay me back for my love.  It's like giving chocolates on Valentine's Day.  You don't expect anything in return.  You offer this gift because you love the person.  You might get a gift back, or you might not.  But it doesn't matter because that's not why you gave it in the first place.

Love, real love, can only be given.  It can't be paid back.

That's true of God's love too.  There's nothing we did to earn it.  There's nothing we can do to escape it.  Paul says nothing can separate us from the love of God.  No matter what we do or how hard we try God's patience, God will continue to love us.

There's nothing we can do to pay it back.


I have a number of dreams for my children.  Stability.  Happiness.  Standard stuff.  Chief among them is a hope that they find someone who loves them as much as I do who will love them after I get run over by a beer truck.  More importantly, I hope they love that someone the same way I love them--the same way God loves them.  Unconditionally and without hope or expectation of repayment.

No, God's love can't be paid back.  It can only be paid forward.  That's why I beam on the inside when I see my kids love others.  The moments when my kids pay love forward are the moments I am proudest of them even though they have nothing at all to do with me.  It's just them being who they are.

Says Jesus, that is our call: Love God, Love Neighbor (everyone), Love Self.  Pay God's love forward.  This is how people will know we are His disciples.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you John. This post is full of beauty and grace and truth. Thanks so much for writing this - and sharing it.