When I was fourteen years old, I was taken in by my best friend Brittany’s family. Due to some challenging circumstances at home, it was the best place I could be at that time in my life. They welcomed me into every aspect of their lives; meals, sports functions, family functions and even holidays.
The first Christmas I spent there, I was shocked to see my name hanging on a stocking on the mantle. I literally did a double-take. I did not deserve that place – right next to all the biological children, there was my name. It will pass, I convinced myself. They will be sick of me and regret the decision to take me in once they see all my faults and failures.
To make a long story short, it’s been over twenty years and I still have a stocking up. For many years it was hard for me to wrap my heart and my brain around such unconditional, extravagant love.
I recently was asked to speak at MOPS and the topic was “The courage to love people extravagantly.” It is a thought provoking topic and I couldn’t help but think of Brittany’s family and the extravagant love they showed me.
Extravagant means: exceeding what is reasonable or appropriate, absurd. More than usual, necessary, or proper.
Yes, I was certainly loved exceedingly by this family…I was loved more than what was reasonable or appropriate. I was loved absurdly. I was loved more than usual, necessary or proper. I was considered family, and still am considered family.
Then, I thought about the Lord and how extravagantly loved I am by Him.
Ephesians 5:1-2 in the MSG translation says,
“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.”
“His love was not cautious but extravagant” is the most beautiful part of this passage for me. Perhaps it is because I, along with many others I know, sometimes love cautiously for fear of getting hurt or rejected. I believe if more people had the courage to be vulnerable, we would see a lot more extravagant love happening in our world.
C.S. Lewis says in his book Four Loves,
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
So, I guess the first question isn’t if I have the courage to love extravagantly but do I have the courage to be vulnerable? Do I have the courage to love others so much that it puts me at risk of being hurt?[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@MelSMiller, @SimpleScripture”]Do I have the courage to love others so much that it puts me at risk of being hurt?[/tweetthis]
Will you join me in tearing down walls and taking off masks?