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Years ago I did a concert in Arizona. The hosts of the event invited me to spend the night with their family after the concert.
The next morning I had breakfast with the family, including an amazingly cute little 4-year-old girl. I was enchanted by her. She was like a Disney character!
She got talking about different people and relationships as we ate together - her Dad, her Brothers, Grandmother.
I think at some level I also wanted to be part of this little princess’s circle, so I began exploring possibilities for our relationship, trying to see, now with our 15-minute history, how I fit in.
I asked her, “so am your neighbor?”
“No”, she calmly said.
“Am I a relative?” I asked.
Again, very calmly she answered, “no.”
Finally, I asked, “Am I your friend?”
She sort of half looked up at me, in between spoonfuls of oatmeal and then matter of factly said, “No. You’re nothing to me!”
When we genuinely give to someone, we are something to this person and perhaps always will be. Through our selfless love and desire for this person’s happiness, we have given him or her a hope in love.
I hadn't given anything to this little girl. On the contrary, I was seeking to get something.
I was digging for a relationship, for validation. I wanted her to say something like, "Well of course John! You're my new friend!"
How it worked out with her is how it works out with everyone we seek to get something from.
Jesus said, "Lend (or give) hoping for nothing." This is the path to what we seek. For when I genuinely give, I become free from the prison of my own self-absorbed agenda to be noticed, or important, or affirmed. This is a lonely world, that each of us yearns to be free from. In sincerely loving and serving someone else, not for me but for this person, I am free from this world.
This is why Jesus also said that he who will seek his life (he who tries extract love, or validation, or cooperation from those around him) will lose it (will end up like I did with this little girl, like "nothing"). But he who will lose his life in the love and service of others will find it.
Love is freedom. Seeking to control or to get something from someone he or she isn't willing, or wanting, or inclined to give, is prison.
Make every moment a gift to those you love, or even to those you would like to love.
How will this look for you this week? Click here for recordings homework possibilities