Today I want to share a little love story with yall
But this is not your typical love story between two people, it’s about the love of an entire community. It’s a story that has both inspired me, and changed me. And I hope it will do the same for you. Take a break and join me to hear an inspiring story about the love of a community. Click To Tweet
In the beginning…
This love story began on a Spring day in 2014. We were in the midst of a devastating storm in our family that felt as if our lives were unraveling all around us. The path that God had sent us on had suddenly taken a drastic detour into what felt like it must have been the very pits of hell.
Some days were so bad, I could hardly breathe. We turned to the only place we knew to go, our church family. And they tried to help, in the best way they could.
They mentored us in a very personal and meaningful way. They led us when we needed leaders and they were our friends when we needed companionship. Because of them, we were able to put our lives back together and mend the broken pieces. Things were looking up, and feeling better than they had in a long time. We were excited for the future and were certain that our next year was going to be the best one yet.
And then the orders came… unexpectedly
It was time to move again. To say the least, I was devastated. I had so many plans for the upcoming year and so many things left undone. The last thing I wanted to do at that time was move away. Nonetheless, when the Army says “move”, you move.
So we made the best of it. We got everything in order, made plans, packed up our entire lives, said the saddest goodbyes ever, and headed south to a brand new season.
We got here on a Monday. Our rental house wasn’t ready because apparently there had been a mix up about the dates. There was no fence, which we had been told there would be, and the entire house was trashed, and full of spiders, and mice!
My MIL had come up to meet us and help with the move that day, so we ended up spending that first day in her tiny hotel room, waiting for our rental to “hopefully” get move-in ready.
We spent the rest of that week unloading, unpacking, organizing, and doing a lot of driving around to familiarize ourselves with this new place that we were now calling home. And for some reason, even with the bad start, we just really liked it. We couldn’t decide exactly why, but it just felt like home.
Our first Sunday, we headed off to church. We didn’t want to skip a beat, so we jumped right in. That day we got signed up to start volunteering, joined a lifegroup, and headed to an event to learn all about the church that very night. We liked the church, BUT it just didn’t seem to compare with the one we thought we had just been ripped away from.
I questioned God about that decision, a lot.
Our new church was nice and all, and it had a pretty awesome Pastor, but it just wasn’t the same church we knew and loved.
I wanted my church home back
I was also really upset that God had called us to enroll in Bible School the previous year, but then pulled us away right in the middle of it. I desperately desired that intimate training because I was missing it so badly and just couldn’t find it at our new church.
After a few months, I told my husband that I just wasn’t sure we were at the right place (even though we were already pretty active members by this point), and that we should try out another church that I had been researching online.
So, the following Sunday, we headed to the other church first thing in the morning, but by the end of that service, we couldn’t get to the parking lot fast enough!! We knew without a doubt that I had been wrong and this was not the place God was calling us to.
We loaded the kids into the car and immediately headed across town to the next service at the church that we had already been planted in, this time, knowing for sure it was where God wanted us to be.
Armed with that assurance, I really started to pursue God, asking Him what it was the we needed to learn about here, that we couldn’t learn anywhere else.
And I soon got my answer!
We decided to start our own lifegroup, so I went to a special worship night, hosted by the church, for lifegroup leaders. That night I felt God move in a brand new way (I know I say that a lot, lol, but its true! These are some of my favorite moments in life!).
Something was different about that room of people, I didn’t just feel God’s love in that room, I felt the love from all of the people too. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. Most of these people were still complete strangers to me, but I just felt the most powerful love radiating in that room that night.
That night, one of our pastors told a sweet story about a young guy who had a cup of tea sitting on the floor by his chair. During worship time, it accidentally got knocked over and tea flooded out, covering the floor of the next several rows in a sticky wet mess. But before he could even do a thing, a whole team of volunteers were there ready and willing to clean up the mess. And then, the best part was when this young man looked at them, horribly embarrassed and trying to apologize, the girl standing there happily handed him a fresh cup of tea and simply said, “Are you kidding me, we get to do this!”
Man, there’s something about that story gets my heart every single time… “We get to do this!” I just love that!
The rest of the night was filled with story after story just like the one I just shared. I left that night with so much hope and an incredible vision from the Lord.
Up until this point, we had been so filled with the knowledge of God, but now it was time to be filled with the unconditional love of God
From then on, I couldn’t help but notice how people in our new church loved others on a whole different level than anything I had ever experienced.
Later that week, I remember standing in the lobby at church talking to one of the pastors about this new-found revelation of how great our church loves, when we both got to experience it first hand. As we were talking, we saw a man walk in from the other side of the building, I don’t even remember what made us notice him at that moment, but the pastor began to tell me a little about him. He said that this man comes in occasionally, usually when he’s feeling down, or having a hard time. And then out of nowhere, another member of the church walked up to the pastor and said, “Hey, you see that man over there? (As he quietly points into the sea of people to the very man we had been speaking about.) What more can we be doing for him? We need to step up our game for him.” And then he laid out an entire plan about what he wanted to do to help this man out, then just as quickly as he walked up, he walked away, directly to the man, to initiate the plan he had just laid out!
I was completely amazed! I had never in my life seen something like that. He wasn’t just talking, he was doing something, he was ready to make a change right then and there in that moment.
I looked right at my pastor and said, “See, point proven, who does that? I mean it, who seriously loves like that?” He just smiled as we looked around and continued to witness one act after another of over the top love right there in the lobby of our church.
The thing that really stood out to me was that this kind of behavior was nothing at all out of the ordinary, it’s just who these people are. I am blown away time and time again watching these people live out unconditional love, but they never seem to understand what I have to be so blown away about, it’s just they way they do life.
I’ve seen so many acts of kindness, generosity, and love among these people. And there’s just something about the heart behind it that takes it to a whole other level of humility and grace, simply for the sake of loving on people.
These people here, they have that saying, “we get to do this”, but it’s so much more than just something they say, it’s a way of life that they live out each and every day, not just at church, but in the community, and in their day-to-day lives. That is what sets this community apart for me.
The love of God permeates everything here, there really is no escape. And let me tell you, I am so HAPPY to get to be a small part of it!!
So I want to share with you some easy ways that you can be a beacon of love and face the world with an “I get to do this” attitude:
Always be willing to go the extra mile. “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.” (Matthew 5:41) If you really dig into that section of Scripture you will find that Jesus is talking about how to treat those who treat you poorly. But I love this simple vision and how we can carry love over in every part of our lives; at home with our spouse or children, with our parents and siblings, with our boss and co-workers, with our fellow servants at church, with the barista at our favorite coffee shop, the checker at the grocery store, and the stranger on the street. What if every time we did something for someone else, instead of doing the bare minimum, we gave 200% effort? How would that change your heart?
Do every thing you do for God. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” (Colossians 3:23) Every thing you do, from the smallest most mundane tasks, to the biggest ones that have the potential to impact on the entire world, do it for God. We shouldn’t show love others in order to satisfy people, we should do it because we love God. We should do it because we are daily being transformed into the image of Christ, who lived only to do the will of His Father in Heaven. Therefore, we live to do the will of God, to spread the hope of Jesus to the ends of the earth. Every thing we do matters, and the love in which we do it will change the world, for better or for worse.
Remember that you are working for an eternal glory. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17) Don’t fix your eyes on your current situation and what you see before you, but instead fix your eyes on Jesus. When we see the world through His perfect lens, we see with eyes of compassion, and we are filled with the unconditional love of Christ that we are then able to pour out onto those around us. We don’t have to know all the answers or understand all the reasons why, we just need to know Jesus and trust that HE works all things for His glory. And we get to be a part of that.
So let’s go love on people this week, because after all, if we haven’t got love, we have nothing
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” ~1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Blessings and love,