Love’s Boundaries

If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—John 14:15-16 (NKJV)

As I observe people in their everyday lives and, more specifically, in their marriage relations, I was reminded of Jesus’ directive quoted above regarding our love for Him. We are often so quick to tell God and others that we love them, but I think we disregard or frequently forget the limitations and boundaries associated with love as defined by God in His Word.

Jesus was instructing His disciples that true love required more than a declaration but, rather, a demonstration of confirming and corresponding thoughts and actions. If we really love Him, we would find ourselves endeavoring to obey the commands He left for us. These commandments are found in Matthew 22:37-40 where we are told to first, love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and secondly, to love our neighbor as yourself.

In both of the scriptures referred to, we find boundaries included after the imperative to love is given. The dictionary defines the word boundary as 1) a limiting or dividing line or mark, and 2) anything indicating a limit or confine. The confines, mark, or limits of love were described as keeping His commandments, with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to love to the degree that we love ourselves. We also find other constraints on how to properly express love in First Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT),  4Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” If you are like me, you probably said, “That is a difficult confinement for me to observe.”

But read, again, John 14:16 where Jesus says that He will pray that we will be sent a Helper, the Holy Spirit, who will be with us forever. Isn’t that just like God to always provide assistance or help to do anything that he ask us to do? Jesus said that if we love Him, we need to keep his commandments or respect His boundaries; and if we agree or confess that we love Him, he will provide the resources needed for our successful adherence to His definition of love. God will never leave us to our own devices but with every command, request, or challenge will commit to help us be victorious as devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

We will find that God’s limitations or boundaries are, actually, demonstrations of His love and grace in action. So, when you are challenged in your execution of love toward our spouse, coworker, friend, acquaintance, or neighbor, turn to our ever- present-help, the Holy Spirit, to provide the strength and ability to love like Jesus would. Help is available just for the asking if you can believe that you are loved with an ever-lasting love by God. (Adrian)

Anything But Normal

I’ve always been fascinated with lighthouses. When I was teaching sixth grade in the San Francisco Bay Area, we visited Point Reyes. The historic Point Reyes Lighthouse was built in 1870 to warn mariners of navigational hazards and served for 105 years. The Point Reyes Lighthouse was retired from service in 1975 when the U.S. Coast Guard installed an automated light adjacent and below the historic tower. The Coast Guard then transferred ownership of the lighthouse to the National Park Service, which has taken on the job of preserving this specimen of our maritime heritage. 

A lighthouse keeper or lightkeeper is a person responsible for tending and caring for a lighthouse, particularly the light and lens in the days when oil lamps and clockwork mechanisms were used. Lighthouse keepers were sometimes referred to as “wickies” because of their job.

Whenever I look at a lighthouse, I can’t help but wonder what life in a lighthouse must be like and that reminds me of how life is in our world’s current state of living through a pandemic. The life of a lighthouse keeper is often either romanticized or seen as a desolate life for those who prefer the solitary confines of the role, away from the social rigors of mainland life.

Because Covid-19, many have been forced to live a life of solitude as we social distance and remain pretty much quarantined in our homes. While it may be normal and desirable for lighthouse keepers, it’s anything but normal for most folks. Most of us had the freedom to move about in our world as we pleased: going to a physical place to work, taking a leisurely walk through a grocery store or mall filled with tons of other people, catching a movie in a theater packed with other viewers, etc.

The effects of such circumstances have created a varied number of reactions. It might have drawn families closer as they now have the opportunity to get to know each other better, or worse, even torn them apart as they are forced to deal with problems they had been able to ignore or overlook before. Either way, it has caused us all to change in some way.

When you look at the images above, which one describes your experience? We need to remind ourselves that none of this caught God by surprise, and He expects us to continue to trust Him in the midst of it. It’s easy to forget that God is still with us in hard times. But He hasn’t forgotten us; and if we’re not careful, we can even forget Him in our good times. We forget to express our gratitude towards Him for His sustaining power. We forget to say thank you for His extraordinary care of us. Two scriptures come to mind in both of these circumstances:

Philippians 4:12-13 I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret [of being content]-whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.  I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me. 2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.

Let’s try to keep our focus on the One who has the power to not only end this pandemic but has the power to sustain us in the midst of it. Let us know how you’re doing. (Pam)