The Hebrew word, checed, is sometimes translated as “steadfast love,” and also is written as “lovingkindness” or a characteristic akin to goodness, kindness, faithfulness, and “constant, abiding favor.” This is one of my favorite qualities of God. God’s steadfast love for us is celebrated as something that endures forever and is trustworthy. God shows checed, abounds in checed, appoints checed, surrounds us with checed, crowns us with checed, and wonderously shows his checed for us. We are to sing about, praise, trust in, hope in, meditate on, and proclaim His checed, for it is better than life and satisfies us completely. And He delights to see us practice this quality towards Him and others.
The more I learn about love, the more I am challenged to see it as a verb, a choice that moves past a feeling and is bolstered by steadfastness and faithfulness when the feeling is gone. The greatest act of love I can comprehend is Christ leaving heaven to live among us and dying in our place to “reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of the cross” (Col. 1:20). And when I read about Jesus before He died, He did not feel like going through an agonizing death- this act of love would cost Him terrible pain and He asked God the Father if there was any other way for His will to be done. But in love, and in obedience, Jesus chose to love us against all feelings that did not match this love because He saw the joy on the other side- the reconciliation of all things, and the joy of bringing humanity back into right relationship with God.
To show steadfast love to people involves pain-because love means being vulnerable and risking rejection and ultimately I will require forgiveness from those who love me and also need to forgive them. Yet it is so joyful to get to love and be loved. I trust that the more fully I accept God's love for me and depend on the Holy Spirit living inside me, the more I can exhibit God’s checed, and His agape love.
While working with the 11 boys here (10 plus little Calvin), I see them fighting to believe in God’s unfailing love for them- His love that never ends and is not based on what they do or the mistakes they have made or feel trapped by day to day. Common lies that they believe are that their mistakes are too great, that they cannot be forgiven, that they cannot change, and that they are not worthy of love or having a family. We teach the boys God’s truth and pray against these lies in the boys’ lives, knowing that they need God’s Spirit and power to fight against the enemy and his lies. We want them to be men full of God's love, peace, and freedom!
Often the lies they believe about themselves burst out in different ways- depression, anger, rage, mistrust of authority, suspicion, and making assumptions for the worst regarding others. Little Calvin, whose mama has abandoned him, is terrified when his dad leaves him with us to do errands. He screams and sits at the gate, hoping in his heart that his dad will come back to him. I found out that he loves being hugged, and get to just sit and hold him sometimes, praying that he will learn to trust again.
I pray that in my weaknesses, and “jars of clay” self, God will show these boys His checed- His love that does not ever fail. It is such a comfort to know that these boys have a savior- Jesus- who fights for them and who loves them without fail. As His servant, the piece that I will play in their lives is small and adding on to the work of many others before me, and more to come. I will come back home in a few weeks changed in many ways, and will never regret the love that I have gotten to give away here.
My heart is heavy tonight for one of our boys. He has HIV/AIDS and depression, and had a very disheartening day after learning that he probably has to repeat his grade in school. He is leaving to go home to his Muslim family tomorrow, a family who has been terribly cruel to him in the past due to his condition. Please pray that he will not take his sadness and depression out against himself in mental or physical harm or refusing to take his medicine. Pray that his life will be full of God’s encouragement, hope, joy and peace, and for his protection as he travels home tomorrow.
May you be captivated and comforted by the steadfast love of the Lord,
Lindsey ( :
|we had a charcoal art night!|