I’ve heard many, many commentaries on love and what Jesus meant when He told us to love one another. Years ago, I wholeheartedly agreed with the idea that love is a decision, not a feeling. The concept that love is expressed more out of choice than emotional sentiment made sense to me. I went along with that until…I got cancer.
It was weird how it all happened. One day I found out I might have cancer. The doctors couldn’t tell for sure because the tumor was so small and the needle-like instrument didn’t reveal much. I was newly pregnant so the surgeon decided not to operate quite yet.
I see now how God prepared me in advance for that time. He had given me a friend years before whose mother was a prayer warrior. Miracles happened when she prayed. So we decided to begin praying each week, though my faith was tremendously weak. We both had toddlers so we prayed over the phone. It wasn’t long before we began to see miracles from our weekly prayer times. Over the next few years, we hardly ever missed a week and could always tell a difference in our own hearts and our children’s and husbands’ hearts and attitudes when we missed a week of prayer. It was our medication, and we needed a dose each week or we were a total mess—unable to cope with life.
After several years of being totally dependent on God for everything and learning through our prayer time what life was really all about—God, I learned about the cancer. Throughout the pregnancy I drew closer to God than ever before. The possibility of dying really does amazing things for your relationship with God, and the Scripture proved true that if you draw near to Him, He draws near to you. He drew so near to me that I actually began to experience His love for others.
I spent so much time with God (probably neglected my children horribly as I immersed myself in the Bible) that I was overwhelmingly filled with love for others. I felt mercy and compassion toward everyone, and it wasn’t a choice kind of love at all; it was a total feeling kind.
I genuinely felt love for others.
I would see people at church and just want to love them, find out what was going on in their lives, pray for them, and just care for them. I couldn’t even find it within myself to judge others, think negatively about their faults, or be irritated with them. I prayed for other people more than I prayed for myself—and I had cancer! I believe I was experiencing a small taste of the love God has for others.
A tiny drip in the ocean of His love was given to me and I felt it. I was fully convinced God had total mercy and compassion for me, and I think it was that knowledge—the knowledge of God’s excessive, unwarranted, unreasonable love for me—that allowed me to forget about myself and totally care for others.
When I actually found out I did have cancer, it was like finding out a bump on my finger was a wart. Yuck. I hoped it would be cured, but I wasn’t all that worried about it. I’m telling you, this was all because of my obsession with God. I went through radiation and some very difficult times, but I’ll spare you the gory details. However, the experience was probably the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me. I was just so close to God that I was overwhelmingly filled with the knowledge of His love for me and others. It was amazing. It was completely satisfying. I knew what it was to be satisfied with Jesus and in need of nothing else—not even my own life. Though I did feel sad to leave my children without a mother, I was so certain of God’s love for them that I wasn’t even worried about it.
I’m so thankful God allowed me that season of intimately knowing His love. I feel like I know from experience what it is like to genuinely love others from the heart. I personally am totally incapable of loving anyone like that, even my children. It was only through a close relationship with the Lord that He was able to flood me with that kind of love.
Now, when I think of being close to God—you know, being really, really right with God—I’m convinced it’s expressed by my love for others. I know when I’m not walking in step with the Spirit because I’m more concerned with me than with anyone else.
The experience left me fully convinced that when God tells us we must love others, it isn’t just a choice to be good to them, treat them with honor, and show charity, it really is a feeling.
But it can only come through total surrender and allowing God to fill us with that love.
That was a mountain top experience for me. It taught me a lot about the character and love of God. Oftentimes in the busy, harried days of homeschooling, I forget what it’s really about. I get bogged down in the details and in all that isn’t going as planned. I get frustrated with how much I can’t get done and feel like such a failure in different areas each day. Yet, I know that I know the answer lies in drawing near to God. That is the answer to the hunger of my soul for rest, peace, joy, and especially for the love I want to have again for every person God places in my path. The kind of love that doesn’t think about being loved back. The kind of love that God has.
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Galatians 5:6
Read on for more encouragement and inspiration.