“If we love one another, God lives in us, and God’s love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:12
Let’s look at love and human relations today.
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” Elie Wiesel
Here is a cute story to begin our message. Think about it, though.
It was too early for hospital visiting hours, and a man tried to sneak in to see his wife and day-old baby. A nurse stopped him in the hall and said, “It’s not visiting hours. You can’t go in to see her.”
He said, “But I am bringing some things she wanted from home.”
The nurse coldly took the radio and magazines from his arms and said that she would give them to his wife.
He said, “But nurse, I’m one of the things she wanted from home.”
He got in to see her.
“Love is like the wind, you can’t see it but you can feel it.”
We all know that people need each other. Every creature needs companionship, and God wants that for us. And it should be that way. Being in a relationship of companionship is the way it should be. It is a given and as important as our basic need of food. I heard recently that in testing tadpoles, zoologists have found that even these humble creatures are so deeply influenced by social need that a solitary tadpole can regenerate an injured body only slowly. But if it is given the firmly sensed comradeship of fellow tadpoles, its healing powers increase by 300%. I can see that also as a human influence.
They have studied mice, also. At the University of Chicago, it has been found that a single mouse grows very slowly. But when mice are raised in contact with fellow mice, they grow about ten times faster than mice on an identical diet in isolation.
Today as you are reading this along with many others, you realize that we grew up with the message that for us to become mature is to be independent. Now we are going beyond that independence to interdependence. We discussed this earlier. As we grow in maturity and study together, we realize that it is O.K. that I need you and that you need me. It is the way it should be. I do not want to go through my life being an “independent.” Sure, I want to be me and to express myself; to be creative; and to be an individual; but I want to do it WITH you. I want to explore life as a person who is finding other people to explore life with. That is what makes life so good.
There is an old story about a mature couple seated in their car, waiting for a traffic light to change. Into the intersection came a much older car with a young couple in it. By the young man, in the driver’s seat, was a very attractive young woman, seated very close to him. The middle-aged lady commented, “Oh, George, isn’t it nice to see them so close?” Her husband said nothing. They she added, “Do you remember when we used to be like that?
Her husband, seated behind the wheel, made no immediate reply other than to grunt. Then suddenly, as if a great light had gone off in his mind, he burst out, “Well, I haven’t moved.”
What we all need to do is a little moving, and commit to closer and better relationships with each other.
Admiral Richard Byrd was in a solitary lifestyle for over five months. In this lifestyle, he survived life-threatening conditions, gathering scientific data at the South Pole. He received many insights of a scientific nature, but he said, later on, that the real thing he learned from those five months of being alone was that he realized how wrong his sense of values were. All things that had once seemed very important now were very insignificant. At the end, only two things matter to a human. They are affection and love. He said, “I realize now how much of my life I have wasted.” He wished he could do it over. “I wish I could love more and have more affection for humankind.”
I often think about how much time, money, thought, activity we waste on things that just don’t matter. Human compassion, harmony and love are the most important things. If we are not investing in these, we are walking around like hollow people, empty on the inside. Husbands and wives, parents and children, friends, whatever relationships our lives are a part of, if they are worth staying connected to, they are worth cherishing, nourishing, and honoring.
I’m sure you have heard stories of families that have wasted years angry and not even speaking to each other; often, by the time the realize the time they have wasted in anger, it is too late. Regrets are many.
Nicholas Sparks, author of The Notebook, best-selling book, and then a movie said:
“I am nothing special, of this I am sure. I am a common man with common thoughts and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul, and to me, this has always been enough.”
At this moment you have come to learn from this message. To take away some type of new thought or reminder. And you are here through a Divine appointment. We are here to learn. It is a time for us to really commit to what we can become, to commit to infusing ALL our relationships with God’s love. Every relationship is a relating—ship. It is too important to wait even another minute.
Here is an interesting agricultural analogy. “It is interesting to drive along the great river road in Mississippi. You cannot see the river anymore because of the levee. Actually, after several hundred miles, you began to think that there is no river – that it is all a figment of some PR guy’s imagination. But you see the levee. Seeing this levee, you might remember the great floods of the last years, and what a good thing the levee is for the people. Do you remember when the river rose and just took over everything? It does, easily. That land is flat. If the river went up one inch, the flat land would also have water in it an inch deep. The power of the water can stand up to anything. It can flood anything. Nothing in its path can stop it.”
Well, I really think that love is the same way in your life. There is no dam or obstacle that can stand up to the flood of God’s love going through you. The nice thing is you don’t have to create it, just consent to it happening. We often think, when we find the perfect relationship, we will have love. That is not the case. It is not suddenly created when we find a person to love. Love, according to the Bible, is implanted deep inside of you by God. It is always waiting to be released. Our spiritual purpose is to express God’s love without holding it back. Expressing love is essential to our physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. It is unlike anything else.
Why is it that whenever we humans express our love, it feels so right? Because love is so basic to our nature that only when love is allowed to express itself can we truly feel fulfilled.
We may smile at a child and even hold his or her hand to help them, but at the same time feel awkward doing it for an adult.
Why, is expressing our love to others so difficult? I think that maybe part of the reason is our inability to love ourselves. We have to accept ourselves as who we are in order to accept and love another. It is a Divine circulation.
Today, as we look at this, as we consider and decide, I pray that it floods every part of your life; so much so that it cannot be stopped by anything inside your mind. It pours out from you and touches everyone in your life and every part of your life. Your life becomes a life of God’s love. There is a river of God’s love waiting to come through you. All you have to do to have it fill the entire landscape of your soul and to transform every part of your life is to agree to it, today. It will transform your life. It is going to be a relationship made in heaven; a daily creation of souls committed to doing God’s will as Jesus spoke of on so many occasions.
Barbara Streisand sang the song, “People Who Need People Are the Luckiest People in the World.” It is a good song because we all need others. If we think we do not, we are wrong. The real fun in life is when we realize it. That makes us come alive.
You may have heard this story before, but it bears repeating.
“Some years ago, in 1991, a woman reporter was reading the personals in her newspaper, “The New York Times.” She enjoyed doing this, but one ad really caught her eye. It read like this:
“Henrietta, do you remember me? We met and courted at Lake George, in 1938. I’ve never forgotten you. Please call me. Irving.”
The reporter couldn’t get it out of her mind, so she called Irving and said, “Tell me the story. What is going on here? You didn’t see this woman from 1938 to now, and you are trying to find her?”
Irving said that Henrietta’s parents had stopped the relationship and sent her to Europe. They were very much in love. Irving later married, but his wife died after many years of marriage. He started to think, again, about the relationship that really had magic. He decided to put a personals ad in the paper and to try to find Henrietta.
The reporter wanted to write a story on it, but the editor of “The New York Times” said, “No, you cannot do this. It is not right.”
Two years later, the reporter was on a New York subway. She was sitting in the crowded subway, next to an elderly woman. The reporter was reading the personals. The woman next to her chuckled and said, “Well, honey, are you looking for a new husband?”
The reporter said, “Oh no, I just read them for fun.”
The older woman said, “Not me. I’ve never read them. I don’t believe in it. It is too corny to believe.”
The reporter said, “You’re right.”
In this long subway ride they had together, the reporter started to tell the woman about the story of Irving and Henrietta. The woman, to her surprise, started to cry – not ordinary crying, but sobbing. There were tears rolling down her cheeks. She was crying almost uncontrollably.
The reporter ended the story and said, “I wish I could give you a happy ending, but I can’t. I wish I could tell you that Irving found Henrietta, but I can’t. It is not the case. Either Henrietta is dead, lives in another city, or doesn’t read the personals.”
The sobbing woman grabbed the hand of the reporter and said, “It’s the third choice, my dear. May I have Irving’s phone number? I am Henrietta.”
Henrietta and Irving met, again, and married. You could say that is a relationship made in heaven, I suppose. Your relationships can be made in heaven, also, by allowing God to come through you.”
That is a sweet story, and a true one.
We need to seek Divine assistance. What does it mean to seek Divine assistance? It is to seek love, to allow God’s love to come through us.
We need some TLC.
If your relationships/companionships do not have trust, it does not have the first ingredient. It needs to have honesty. Honesty has its foundation on communication – relating.
That is a verb. Every day, we have to give, instead of take. We have to invest in our relating—ships.
Here is what ministers tell young couples. “Every day, I want you to do something to make the other person’s life better. Anything. It does not have to be a big thing, but just something sweet. If you do this, you will be rich, indeed.”
I think this is true for all of us in our relationships. Have you called a friend recently? If not, pick up the phone and just say, “Hi, I just wanted to touch base and see how you are doing.”
If you had a bank account, and all you did was to take from it and never invested anything in it, you would be poor, very soon. You would be flat broke and so would our relationships. We have to continually see our relationships as something to invest in – all of our relationships. Every day, we have to do something nice. Loving is a verb.
If we were to take two of your hairs, right now, from your head and create a braid, we could do so. The minute we released it, though, it would unravel. However, if we add a third strand, that braid would last throughout all eternity. It is the same with our relationships. We have to add God into our relationships. That means praying together. That is a great form of communication to have. Not the kind of prayer, “Oh God, please change her. Please make her realize the error of her ways.” Not that kind of prayer, but the prayer of “Make me more loving, God. Make ME understand. Make me a vessel overflowing with love.”
We do that in our prayer group , http://thespiritualfamily.chatango.com/ . We check in every day, we pray together, chat, play wonderful music; and even though it is a chat room, we have built spiritual relationships/ companionships in this little on line chapel (our Bethel).
You need to pray together, and also, pray apart during your day. We need to pray for each other, for the very best to happen in the other person’s life.
Then, we need to have soft communication. A lot of our communication is loud. We think the louder we get, the more they will hear. That is not true. Here is an old saying: “For a happy relationship, never speak loudly to one another, unless the house is on fire.”
John 10 is about Jesus being the good shepherd. “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate, but climbs in by another way, is a thief and a bandit.” (John10:1) I think that He is saying that the way to enter into a true relationship with Him and any other is Love (God IS Love). If you are not there for that purpose, you are a thief and a bandit. You need to follow the way of love.
“’The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’ Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.” (John 10:2-6)
Jesus said, “God is love.” When sheep hear God’s voice, they hear love. We need to understand this is talking about love.
There is instant recognition. The sheep know the voice. I know none of you want to be called sheep, but this is in the highest sense of the word that we become followers of love. We have instant recognition. It does not matter what your face looks like, or what your voice sounds like. If you are coming from love, others know.
Remember, in the Gospel of Luke, the story of the shepherd? He leaves the 99 to find the one that is lost. We need to do the same. What does that mean? Let’s say that you and I have a great friendship, a true relationship. There are 99 things that are right, but there is that one little thorn in there. “You chew your nails, and it is just driving me nuts.” I have allowed this to really build up and to grow. So I leave the 99 perfect things about my friend and blow up the one thing or do I gather all 100 things and envelop them all in love. We need to always rule our relationships with our hearts, not our minds.
Remember the old Peanuts comic strip where Charlie Brown said, “I love humankind; it’s people that I can’t stand.
There are three ways for you to cultivate relationships made in heaven:
KNOW them. Jesus calls all of his sheep by name. There is only one way I can get to know you and that is if I talk with you and I listen to you. We communicate, daily.
GROW them. They hear his voice and they come to him. Be in a relationship where you want to make the other person’s life better. Realize, as the love comes through you, you are not going to be losing yourself, but gaining yourself in this, and you are going to make their life sweeter, as well as your own.
SHOW them. Jesus walks ahead of them and they follow. What does that mean?
Show love in all your actions, reactions, words, and deeds – and others will eventually follow.
People’s minds are changed through observation more than through argument. People do what they see. Jesus modeled His message, and we must do the same.
Let us pray. . .
“Today, I follow Jesus Christ by making an active commitment to God’s love.
I make an active commitment to allow God to come through every word and every expression in my faith. Through my eyes – what I see, through my ears – what I hear, and through the touch of my hands. I pray that I am God’s love in expression to all. I commit to this, actively and surely.
I pray that this loving seed grows in me and it overtakes me; that it floods the low areas and makes me so alive, I actively choose this way of life; and with your help God, I will never want to go back to any other way. I give myself to God-love. God-love, I know Your love flows through me.
In Jesus Christ’s name, we pray and it is so. Amen.
God bless you!