Kara's Collection: Extending Love

from an article originally posted August 12, 2014…

On a day that feels full of sorrow, the headlines offer little hope. Bright lights have dimmed, and the familiar pit in our stomach becomes our companions once again. I have met an intruder—new pain—and tomorrow the snort will take a look at what chaos is happening within my body. But is it all chaos? It feels like it is. And what is the answer?

The other day I sent a simple picture of myself full of limitations struggling to find my way from my nest. I was grieving the days of strength that I didn’t extend myself beyond the comfort of my own borders. The response was encouraging. One woman pondered the question, and then asked in a kind of survey way, What is it to live outside our comfort zone?

And here is where I find the answer for me in my limitations, you exactly where you are, all of us: Philippians 2:1-7

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant...

So, we may wonder what it is to move in love beyond the borders of our comfort, but it has been made clear. The path has been set for us to walk in. We can ponder all day and never move beyond the shores of our comfort into the abundance of grace. There is something the headlines scream at me: this place needs love. This hurting world needs people of grace and love to extend that love. We sit and consume sermons, we read books of deep faith, we sit in Bible studies and wonder of the love, but we live as hoarders unwilling to turn loose and pour out all that has been poured into our lives.

Jason once met a man that worked alongside a man that he wanted to share Jesus with openly. He came to Jason unknowing of what to do. Jason simply looked at him and said, You have been enjoying the comfort of the pew for over twenty years; you are more than prepared to share your faith. Just enter the conversation, the Holy Spirit will bless the words. It is not as complicated as we make it. People long to be truly loved, known, embraced. And in that knowing we are loving. In the time and extension of ourselves, Jesus is present. We are often fearful to even begin the conversation, share our love, extend beyond our own borders. We think we need the right answers, when what we really need is to show up and care.

Isn’t that all of us, we simply don’t recognize how much has been lavishly poured into us. We consume, enjoy, lap up the excellence of the goodness of God. Then we forget the goodness is most good when it’s shared. What I know today—what we all know today—there is deep hurt in this world. It’s time we repent our hoarding of the grace and love and start to get uncomfortable and share all that is ours in Jesus. And then, and gloriously then, that quiet place of comfort will never again feel comfortable. Once we have tasted the joy of giving away what is not ours to keep, we would learn the best kind of living.

These verses do not say forget yourself, or forget your own interests; no, look closely. But they do encourage us all to begin to live on a different island. One that isn’t comfortable, an island that looks at the inhabitants around us. These verses call us to live servant-hearted and open—sharing the lavish gifts we enjoy.

Who in your life are you being called to extend yourself to in love? How have you been a hoarder of the goodness that has been lavished upon you? Who needs to hear the hope you enjoy today? If you cannot think of anyone, begin to pray someone would be brought into your life. Walk out your front door and begin to meet those that live nearest to you. Your love matters, your time matters, your prayers make a difference. This world is hurting so badly, we have a hope many long to know. I double-dog dare you to meet another in love and grace today. You will be richer for it. Even if you extend yourself in deeper love behind your closed doors with your own people today, it will be love well spent.