No longer orphans

Afghan orphan child

As we sat around the table, all at once I could feel a hush

as they considered what I had just said. 

Every week, I lead a Bible study group at a local shelter for battered women and their children. I had felt strongly that I needed to begin teaching about the fatherhood of God, as many of these women had had poor examples of a father, which influenced their view of God the Father. We were all reading from John 14, where Jesus describes his relationship with his Father. Until now the ladies had been interacting, commenting to one another on different details of the study.

But then I read verse 18, and all of us felt the truth of it sink in:

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

I had prefaced the passage by asking them about their fathers. Of about a dozen, a couple of them never knew their father, several commented that their fathers had been violent and abusive. Only a couple had grown up with a loving, secure relationship with their father.

Reading this verse brought to the surface the deep feelings in most of them that they had been in fact fatherless, and gave them new hope in deepening this relationship with their heavenly Father. I saw a few tears as I shared about the differences between the father that they had experienced and the One that they were now learning about.

The same way that we can feel alone in a crowd, we can feel abandoned in the midst of relationships. No human relationship can even come close to supplying the need we have for God, but when we are in touch with His love, guidance and provision all our other relationships can come into focus.

We have Jesus’ promise: “I will not leave you as orphans.” He goes on to say, “…you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” That’s real intimacy.

Have you entered into this deep fellowship with our Father and His intense love for you?

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Running on empty

Image

We don’t get too far on empty, unless we want to push the car.

1 Corinthians 13: http://tinyurl.com/nojtbd

If we love, it will be expressed in actions. We know what some of those actions will be; we know what love looks like in practice.

But it is so easy to fall into doing the works, without evaluating if we are motivated by love, or only wanting to “do what is right”. Apparently, from reading the passage above, it is possible to do all of the visible works that could be an expression of love, but do them without love: prophecy, sacrifice, speaking in tongues, mountain-moving faith and the rest.

All of these things can be empty, void of the most important ingredient. We do them as part of our routine, and run the risk of falling into self-righteousness. I see so many Christians get burned out, fall into discouragement and want to quit as a result of running on empty.

We can evaluate our “love level” by observing our complaints and frustrations:

  • Do we get frustrated if our efforts aren’t appreciated?
  • Are we becoming weary of doing what we are expected to do?
  • Does it bother us when situations seem unfair to us?
  • Is it irritating to us when others don’t do their part to help us in our work?
  • Do we complain about other people’s attitudes?

I’m not saying that if we love others that all these problems will disappear, but at least we will be able to deal with the source.

But if we do find that our love has cooled off somewhat toward those that we help, what can we do to rekindle it? I believe that as we focus on God’s love for us and for others, we will find that our love will grow. Considering the sacrifice that Jesus made for us, and his unconditional love that is our source of love, we can tap into it and be renewed.

And as with many problems, when we realize that we have the problem we are halfway to the solution. 

What are your symptoms of burnout and how have you dealt with them?