There is an ad I have been hearing on the radio about experiencing unconditional love. Turns out it’s ad about having pets. The point is well taken – pets do tend to love us in spite of ourselves.
I personally never had pet a pet growing up and am not particularly fond of the idea to this day. Outnumbered by a wife and two daughters, however, we all compromised years ago with a rabbit. His name is Titus and he is now almost 10 years old. That is VERY ELDERLY in rabbit years. He can’t see or hear very well although he actually seems healthier now than he was last year. This we believe is in answer to prayer.
Even though he chews through electrical cords and does things that aggravate Dads, Sandi and the girls love Titus. He is soft, cuddly and, I suppose, cute. His thick fur, floppy ears and pudgy body make him the perfect pet for ‘hug therapy’ when the girls get home. Everyone but me feels very attached to the rabbit, but for their sakes I continue to pray that he will live long and prosper.
And Titus, in spite of his occasional foot-thumping attitude, does seem to love unconditionally. That is something we humans appreciate but have trouble doing ourselves. It is what makes God’s love so remarkable. We are loved unconditionally, not because we own a pet but because we are created and loved by a redeeming God. This love frees us from approval-soliciting performance and heals us from the wounds of people who have loved us less than perfectly.
So may that life-giving, Jesus-centered, Cross-proven love of God wash over you today. You are important to God and relentlessly loved by Him.
For the Reflective Reading on the back of our church bulletin last Sunday I listed 7 ‘self-diagnostic’ questions I need to keep asking myself as a leader. To the end that we all fulfill God’s calling with personal lives that stay holy and healthy, here they are again. I hope you find them helpful.
KNOW GOD: If ministry activity were taken away from me, would I still have a personal, growing relationship with Jesus?
PURSUE INTEGRITY: Are there areas of ongoing secrecy in my life that I am intentionally hiding from those closest to me?
BE MYSELF: Am I living under the self-imposed pressure of always having to prove something to somebody?
OWN RESPONSIBILITY: Do I acknowledge my mistakes or do I project blame and use my influence to vent unresolved anger?
EMBRACE CHANGE: Is my attitude faith-filled and future-focused or am I overly nostalgic of the past and fearful of taking risks in the present?
LOVE LEARNING: Am I coasting intellectually or am I applying myself to the disciplines of personal study and reflection?
LIVE JOYFULLY: Do I love what I am doing or have I taken the pressures of ministry onto myself?
As we close out the first month of this new year (already!) I have been thinking about what a good friend of mine, Randy Hurst, calls “Jim Bradford’s Frustrating, Impossible but Right Rules for Living.” He heard me talk about them in a sermon from 2nd Timothy and has posted them, under that title, by his work desk. They go like this:
1. Put your best energies into your most important relationships;
2. Put your best resources into your highest priorities;
3. Put your best attitudes into your deepest disappointments.
Frustrating? Yes. Impossible? Maybe. Worth a try? Too much hangs in the balance this year not to — for God’s glory and for the sake of those who need us at our best.