Complex Love

awesome-american-flag_603993I made my way to the mailbox to take our American flag out of its holder all the while sensing a growing sadness rising in my chest.  Veteran’s Day has come and gone and I’m stuck with the image cemented in my brain of a young college student setting fire to a similar flag.  What a tragedy that the very same symbol of freedom, the fabric chosen to lead us in parades, in color guards and public gatherings would be destroyed just to register political frustration.  If it hurts me, what does it do to our veterans?  And if destruction of our flag brings pain to the heart of our veterans, what does flagrant disregard of faith do to the heart of God?

Let me tell you of one veteran.  At ninety-one, he still recalls his service in WWII, rounding up German resistance from the hills and caves after the end of that period of wartime.  He stores pictures in a box of rescued prisoners in their stripped pajamas, frames so thin the fabric reveals shoulder bones and rib cages.  I wish he could talk to children who have trouble believing such a holocaust could have even happened.  He relives nightmares while our history books have chosen to delete much of history.  However, that does not negate the reality of such atrocities.

There are those who say Noah never built an ark that carried animals two by two.  Others declare the Bible a fairytale book designed for weak people who need a crutch to get them through reality.  But these opinions do not change reality; the reality of God’s love for mankind instead changes opinions when people seek the truth.  The truth that has stood the test of time remains strong within the hearts of true believers regardless of public doubt.  If this book of faith, our Holy Bible, is to be received and believed by another generation, it will have to be lived out in the lives of believers.  The proof will be in the life of love lived by a believer.

Living a life of love is no easy thing.  Love means I must love the burner of our flag.  I may not understand his frustration and dislike his actions, but I must care about his need for salvation.  Love means I must care for the woman who felt the need to abort her baby.  Love gives me patience and a smile to give to the driver who cut me off.  As I said, it’s no easy thing.

Paul wrote to his young mentee Timothy that love was the secret to leading others to faith.  “Now the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.”  (1 Timothy 1:5)  This lifestyle, one of love and prayer for others, pleases God.  “This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2:3-4)

I want the college student who burns our flag to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth.  I want him to know God’s love and he may never see it demonstrated if I don’t show it to him.  I’ll be honest – I don’t really know how to do that, but I’m sure God can show me.  I seek the secret of love!  I pray God will lead me to a deeper walk with Him and a love beyond my own human understanding.  Won’t you join me?

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