Aug 18, 2008

Drinking from the Fountain

‘Blessed is one who has despised all earthly and perishable things and acquired love.’
Such a person’s reward increases every day.
Such a person’s reward and crown has been prepared, the Kingdom of heaven has been given them.
All the Angels call them blessed;
all the Powers of heaven praise them;
the choirs of the Archangels receive them with joy.
For them the gates of heaven will be speedily opened,
and they will enter with boldness, take their stand by the throne of God,
be crowned by God’s right hand, and will reign with him for endless ages.

- St. Ephrem the Syrian

Love is terribly important to God. It is his essence. It is who he is. How can we refuse to acknowledge it? How can we choose to ignore it in our own lives? How can we repeatedly fail to call upon it? We see love as an option - whether to give it or not to another person. Typically, we develop this attitude over the years because we have been deeply hurt by those not exhibiting love toward us. Oftentimes, such injury is incurred from those whom we thought we were close to and shared a commonality and communion in the faith. We thought we were under the umbrella of love, but then lightning strikes the umbrella. We stand holding a charred assemblage of sticks and vow to never go out in the rain ever again.

Thus our hesitancy toward loving those around us begins to take shape. Our life experiences tend to strengthen our distrust and suspicions of people rather than our compassion and openness toward them. On the other hand, there are those I have known who seem to have an endless capacity to love all who cross their path in life. I have observed at the same time that these individuals are quick to forgive and eager to hope for better things in others and life situations. They are resilient and not deterred by potholes. I'd like to think that they were blessed with a "sunny disposition" and I was born under a thundercloud (after all, I grew up in Ohio). Differences in temperaments can be a good excuse for people like me, but they are never mentioned in scripture as an opportunity or justification for lack of faith in situations. Indeed, God uses all kinds of temperaments to accomplish his purposes. Quite frequently, he uses the very weaknesses of a certain temperament to show forth his glory and power. There goes that excuse.

Our English word "love" covers so many emotions and situations that it hardly has any true meaning anymore. God, however, is very specific in what love is and is not. Contrary to our typical perception of love being strictly an emotion, God often describes love in actions (1 Cor. 13), not feelings. But this isn't to be a list of good behaviors we should adopt as Christians. Rather, if we aren't seeing these type of actions in our life, then perhaps we need to examine our relationship with the Source. For love must come from the One who is Love. We can manufacture a pretty good substitute on our own, but it does not produce lasting results.

There are times that I wish I could just wake up in the morning and have love pouring out from my spirit. But life drains us of energy and can be discouraging to our spirit. God knows that we must refuel every evening and every morning. He is eager to meet us and strengthen us. We must make the time. We must daily go back the Fountain of Life that we may never thirst:
"Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst...the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14)

The Samaritan woman was weary of the daily labor of getting water herself and carrying it home. God waits for us to become weary of our own methods of love and to come to him. He waits to transform us.