Last weekend I drove to a conference in Michigan. When I have several free hours on the road I often use the time to call friends and keep in touch. On Sunday I had a wonderful conversation with Chris. He told me about a young couple he had known for several years while he was on the staff of their church.
It seems their mother, who is also a good friend of Chris’s, had a problem with hoarding. They wondered if he would be willing to help them clean up her yard and front porch. Chris figured it would take a few Saturdays and the job would be complete. The next weekend he showed up to help and was met by the mother. She was ashamed for him to see all her stuff. But Chris, who has a big heart and a great smile, gave her a genuine bear hug and assured her of his love and affection.
The job was bigger than they thought, and it took several weekends to accomplish the task, but finally Chris and her children prevailed. The yard and front porch looked great. Then the family asked Chris if he would help clean the house. He walked in and was amazed to find rooms where the door barely opened, revealing piles of stuff as high as the ceiling. As I write, the cleaning is still going on.
I wish I could say she was happy and relieved to have her secret out in the open, and thrilled to have a cleaner home. But she still struggles with shame and guilt. She sees the mountain of stuff accumulated over a lifetime and has remorse. Chris has to continually assure the mother of his love for her and that their friendship is unchanged. The real task is not the cleaning and organizing, it is making her know she is loved for who she is. For this dear lady is not a hoarder. She is a child of God, our sister, with stuff, just like the rest of us.
I’m glad my friend’s name is Chris, because he reminds me of Christ in his unchanging affection and determined commitment for his friend, regardless of how much stuff she has. We each have stuff. We have wounds, hurts, and scars from our past that have been accumulated over a lifetime. God knows all about our baggage and loves us still.
This kind of love is perfect. And this perfect love, casts out, banishes, and expels every particle of fear. (1 John 4:18). God knows us intimately and continues to love us completely. With eyes wide open, He embraces us and by His Spirit, makes us know we are liked for who we are.
We think we have to clean up our home before we can invite him in. We mistakenly assume He will love us more if our house is cleaner. We forget “God shows His love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” While we were messy sinners, wallowing in our stuff, God loved us. He chose to love us when we were at our worst, to demonstrate that His love is not based on what we do or have done, but who He is. God is love. God is good. God is kind. God is merciful and gracious. God is forgiving. God never changes. God is for us. Amen.
For the past few years I have been in the process of writing four books which I believe are important to building a family of faith. Many of you have contributed to the editing process. These books are now in print and available at a special price. The retail price for all four is $44.00 but for you and your friends the cost is $20.00. To order click here.
In 2012 I discovered my stuff, my baggage, was hurting those I loved the most, my wife and children. In Crisis to Christ, I recount my painful but enlightening journey in confronting my past and embracing the revelation that God not only loves the world, He likes me.
Knowing God’s Love is about believing the truth, as revealed in scripture, that God graciously, wonderfully, and unconditionally loves each of us.
Transformed to Love, explains the new commandment, to love others (particularly our spouse and children) as we have been loved.
Speaking the Truth in Love, articulates principles of godly communication for nurturing relationships within our homes.
The scripture references for the article above, to help us grasp and apprehend the truth more fully.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18 ESV)
“There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear.” (1 John 4:18 The Message)
“Love contains no fear—indeed fully-developed love expels every particle of fear” (1 John 4:18 J.B. Phillips New Testament)
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)
“God is love.” (1 John 4:8)
“Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18)
“When the kindness of God our Savior, and his love toward man, appeared,” (Titus 3:4 ASV)
“The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” (Exodus 34:6)
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
“God is for me.” (Psalms 56:9)
“If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
Abiding in His Love,