When Jesus walked this earth He had a habit of using everyday objects as tools to teach important truths. This week His tool of choice for me was a measuring tape. Given that He was a carpenter, I figure this is fitting.
It all started when I was telling Him ways I hadn’t loved well recently. Times I’d been bitter, resentful, angry even (welcome to my confessional). We were talking about this, Jesus and me, when Ephesians 4:1-3 presented itself to me.
“Walk holy,” it said, and then went on to describe what that meant. “Walk holy … with tender humility and quiet patience, always demonstrate gentleness and generous love toward one another, especially toward those who may try your patience.” (Passion Translation)
Ugh! This is one of those Scriptures that makes me say, “Really, God?!”
Gentleness and generous love, especially toward those who try my patience?
Back to the confessional I go!
“Generous love” is what snagged me.
The word generous, in Aramaic – the language of Jesus’ day, literally means “stretching.”
“Demonstrate stretching love,” we’re told, “especially to those who try your patience.”
And here comes the object lesson. The measuring tape I’m talking about is the tool variety where the tape is encased in a hard shell and can be stretched out and snatched right back in again at the press of a button.
And this measuring tape, friend, is a picture of my love. It can be extended out rather far, reaching and stretching with the best of them. That is until one little touch of the button sends it instantly retreating, retracting, recoiling inside its hard little shell.
It’s crazy how fast this can happen.
People can sometimes push my button (that button), if you know what I mean. And just like that I go from reaching to retracting, moving further away from them and becoming all wrapped up in me.
Oh my goodness gracious!
And now those who may need my love no longer have no access to it.
It is out of their reach.
Lord, have mercy.
This week marks forty (40!!) years since I began my journey of faith with Jesus. Forty years since His love reached me. Forty years and still my love is so unlike His. How is this possible? He reaches. I retract.
And so I repeat:
Lord, have mercy.
Psalm 36:5 says, all true & simple:
“Your love, O Lord, reaches …”
It reaches. It doesn’t retract. It extends. Stretches.
Heaven to earth.
Sky to sea.
Always, always in search of me.
Your love, O Lord, reaches.
It doesn’t retract when I don’t measure up (there’s that object lesson again).
Ok. This is hitting home anew even as I sit here writing. When I judge others as not measuring up to some crazy standard of mine, I retract. I really don’t like seeing this in myself, but here it is plain as day.
I think Jesus’ measuring tape is entirely different than mine!!!!!
His doesn’t retract when we don’t measure up. It reaches further still.
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy!
His love reaches.
In a thousand ways where mine retracts, recoils.
His love reaches: Our Little Life Words of the week.
- What pushes your button and sends you lickety-split into retract and recoil mode?
- Where in the Scriptures do you see Jesus’ love reaching while others are retracting?
- In what areas do you try to ‘measure up’ to earn the love of God or others?
- Extend a measuring tape the whole way out and look at how far it reaches. Then hit the button and watch how quickly it retracts all up in on itself, closed up tight.
- When someone tries your patience this week, practice stretching love. Reach toward them instead of retracting.
- Our song of the week is: What Love Really Means by JJ Heller.
- Sit in silence and let God’s love reach you, wherever you may be. Don’t try to measure up, just let Him come to you.
This week, may Jesus Himself and God our Father, reach out in love and surprise you with gifts of unending help and confidence (2 Thessalonians 2:15-17).