Thursday, March 16, 2017
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My wife was just a little girl when she first met Bob Henley. He was one of those older men you look up at and look up to at church. She had a visit to her childhood church some years ago, and she asked about Mr. Henley. They said, "He's 92 years old - and that he would be there the next week." My wife made it a point to attend church there the following week and to reconnect with this memory from her past. As they were talking, Mr. Henley said, "You probably don't remember this (and she didn't), but one day after church you came up to me and you grabbed this finger. You were only about this high (about the altitude of a 4-year old). But you grabbed my finger and you said, ‘Mr. Henley, I love you.'" Now why would he remember that little¬ childlike expression into the 9th decade of his life? He said, "You don't know this, but I was raised an orphan. That morning was the first time in my life anyone ever said 'I love you' to me.'" Wow!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Leaving Love Behind."
All those years without anyone ever telling him they loved him. And the power of someone finally letting him know he was loved.
We're surrounded by people who don't know they're loved...or who have not been told nearly enough. It's a lonely world of self-focused people. Consequently, you can almost assume that some of the people you know are love-starved. And a lot of the mistakes they are making is because they're looking for love in all the wrong places. Can you see that need behind their deeds?
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Ephesians 5:1. It becomes a summons to action for us in our love-starved world. Here's what it says, "Be imitators· of God, therefore, as dearly loved children...and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Did you get that..."live a life of love"? Here that love is illustrated with the love of Jesus for us; love that is willing to "give yourself up"...to sacrifice; to go out of your way to put someone else first.
I wonder how much of an answer you are to the deep love deficit that people around you are feeling. It isn't enough that you love them. You have to let them know you love them. A lot of children aren't feeling secure in their parents' love, not because mom and dad don't love them, but because they don't express their love in ways that the child can feel.
Like that man at Karen's church, people need to be told they're loved. They need someone who makes them feel important by just patiently listening to them. You say "I love you" when you show up at the funeral, at the hospital, when you celebrate their special moments with them. You say, "I love you" when you drop what you're doing to be with that person. You say "I love you" when you hang in there with them when they're aggravating, frustrating, obnoxious, unlovable. When they're the least lovable, they need your love the most.
For some of us, this expressive love doesn't come naturally because we were raised in an undemonstrative family...we've been conditioned to not let our feelings show. But that emotional paralysis cripples you and it deprives the people around you of knowing how you care for them. God's in the business of liberating people emotionally who say, "Lord please unleash Your love... Your love through me."
It's important to look around the circle of people in your life and ask, "Does he...does she feel loved by me?" We're called by God to live a life of love. For, as my wife was reminded by a man in his 90s, your simple, honest expression of love may be one of the first that person has had in a long time, and it is something they will never forget.