Wednesday, October 7, 2009

JOY # 3

“I pray that your love will overflow more and more,
and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.”
Philippians 1:9

When Seth was in the ninth grade, his baseball team was scheduled to play in a tournament in South Florida.

We decided to make the trip a family vacation.

On the way home, Jim, Ethan and I stopped by Manatee Springs. Seth was riding home with the other players.

Manatee Springs is a state park near Chiefland, Florida. The springs flow into the Suwanee River and then on into the Gulf of Mexico. Approximately 81,000 gallons of freshwater flow out of the springs every hour. That’s about 117 million gallons flowing from the springs every day.

As I walked up the boardwalk and saw the springs, I was amazed by the colors. Who ever knew there were so many shades of green and blue?

It was obvious that there was something happening underneath the springs that I couldn’t see.

The water was being pushed out of the ground by a huge unseen force.

An unseen force man could never duplicate.

I stood on the walk above the springs as Jim and Ethan took a swim, and I wondered what the first Indians must have thought as they paddled the tea-colored waters of the Suwanee, rounded a bend in the river and found themselves in a place too beautiful to believe. I remember reading on one of the plaques that told about the springs that the Indians called it something like, “the place where the God lives.”

As I've been reading in Philippians and came to verse above, I've thought about the word “overflow.” I have also thought about how many times I have failed when it came to loving. Much less, having so much love that it overflowed.

Sometimes when I am reading a verse or a thought and I don’t feel like I am getting what the writer is saying, I will rearrange the order of the sentence. I will put the writer’s last thought first, and his first thought last.

I rearranged verse 9, and I believe this emphasizes what Paul was trying to say . . .

“As you grow in the knowledge and understanding of Jesus, your love, which will really be God's love, will overflow more and more onto the people in your life.”

I don’t know what theologians might think of my interpretation.

But I do know that I have tried to love to like Jesus.

I have prayed for that love.

I have read the books on love.

I have the desire.

But I haven't been able to do it.

And I believe that God is telling me through the words of Paul that He knows I can't either.

He's telling me that as much as I want to, I can't make it happen.

I can't make it happen any more than the land around Manatee Springs can make the water flow out of the ground.

I believe He is telling me, that I may not be able to love like He loves, but I can seek Him.

By His grace, I can surrender to Him.

I can draw near to Him.

I can grow in the knowledge of Him, and in the understanding of His amazing love for me.

Then... I will love.

The knowledge and understanding of His love for me will be the unseen force that will cause the love of Jesus to overflow out of me onto the lives of others. That force will be so powerful in my life that I will love regardless of the way I am treated. I will love expecting nothing in return. I will love in spite of myself.

So, I will rejoice because . . .