Friday, December 26, 2008

Receiving Extravagant Love

    The rectangle box lay at the end of the stack of presents to be opened.  One by one I worked my way down to it.  Seeing the delight of each child as I opened each carefully selected present, spoke volumes to my heart.  The joy that filled their eyes as they lavished their love on me was indescribable.  Their eyes told the story of their hearts.  Would I receive their gift?  One of my daughters had told me the day before, "Mom, remember I like to give gifts, don't look at how much it cost." 

    It was my last gift of the day.  As I picked it up, I found a note in his handwriting declaring his love.  The words themselves were a gift.  Slowly pulling the paper away, the white box lay in my hands.  As I opened it, the weeping began.  My dear husband had bought me a new laptop.  You have to understand the history to gain the significance of the gift.

     Years ago I had prayed for a used laptop to begin writing.  Papa God saw fit to place a desire on the heart of one of my friends who had some extra "giving" income to buy me a new one.  Her words were the gift that lingered in my soul.  "I believe God has a ministry for you so my husband and I are giving this gift to you to help start you off." 

      A few months ago that very laptop had been accidentally dropped by one of my children and with it went some of my treasures.  Here months later, I sat with a brand new laptop, tears coursing down my cheeks.  My husband believed in me too.

     As I sat there weeping, seeing the tears in his eyes, it was then I saw it for what it was, extravagant love.  Being a one income family that lives on a very tight budget, I knew this had come with sacrifice, and cost.  In a millisecond the debate went through my mind...what would I focus on?  The cost or the extravagant love?  I am prone to focus on cost.  But the look in his eyes kept beckoning me to see love.

     Why is it so hard to receive extravagant love?  I mean I do OK with having my needs met. But there's something about extravagance that tugs at my heart, struggling to take up residence.  What is it about lavish love?  

     Love knocks at my door and I struggle to open it, for fear I have burdened another.  It's proof that I still don't understand true love.  In gentleness Jesus speaks to me.

      "Jewel, when someone loves with extravagance, it's not a sacrifice to them.  It's a natural response to love. The problem is, you see the cost, while all they see is the desire to love."

       Why is that, Jesus?  Why do I feel guilty?  Why does my mind go there?

     "You are afraid of what loving you might cost someone." "You don't want to burden anyone."  "But don't you understand, dear one, loving you is not a burden, it's a delight."  "Love bears all things...without knowing it's bearing them."  "When you feel guilty or that you are a burden you are still looking at love through your faulty value system."  "You do not see your true value."

     "You do not feel worthy.  You do not want others to sacrifice on your behalf.  But that's not true love, Jewel.  True love IS sacrificial, yet the person offering love doesn't see the sacrifice.  They consider the gain of giving love."

      "It's time to receive, Jewel."

      Receiving is so much harder than giving.  I can see why now.  I am looking through the eyes of what I think it must cost to love me.  I do it with Papa God too.  His love is extravagant, yet so often I diminish it because of my own unworthiness. 

      It's time to receive...  He wants to lavish His love on us all.  It's not a sacrifice to Him.  It is pure delight.  He sees that He will get to love us if we will see the love and receive.  

    His pure, unadulterated love is there, waiting to be received.  Just like me, in a millisecond of a moment you have a choice.  Will you focus on the sacrifice or the love?  It will make the difference in how you look at the gift.  The gift of love is offered.  It is You He sees, you in all your beauty.  His eyes beckon you to look beyond and see the love.  What will YOU see?  

      "I have loved you with an everlasting love.  I have drawn you with lovingkindness"  Jeremiah 31:3
©copyrighted:  2008 Julie L. Todd

16 comments:

Marsha said... Reply to comment

Oh, Julie! What a wonderful gift! I must admit I, too, have been guilty of focusing on the sacrifice rather than the love. I tend to think practically and about the cost. Over the past 5years the Lord has been dealing with me in the area of receiving lavish, outrage love - from Him and others.

Thank you for sharing your gift with us... and your victory!

2nd Cup of Coffee said... Reply to comment

I am so happy for you. And I do get the feeling you have when it's hard to receive extravagant gifts. Thanks for sharing this with everyone.

Kimberly said... Reply to comment

Extravagant love is so hard to receive. Part of me wants so much to receive it, to believe it is possible, but then so much of me can only focus on my own unworthiness, and indeed, not wanting to burden anyone.

I love how you talked about how love is sacrificial. Jesus' love for me was sacrificial. And He actually found me worth it. Instead of trying to understand it or make sense of it, I need to start just receiving it.

Enjoy your new laptop, my friend! And enjoy receiving all of the love He wants to lavish on you!

Becoming Me said... Reply to comment

I have a lump the size of Texas in my throat. You do have a precious gift and ministry...I'm so happy for you...that you received the lap top and a lesson about love.

Amy said... Reply to comment

Julie,

This is absolutely beautiful! I know the extravagant love you are describing! The first time God lavished me with an over the top gift, I wept for hours.

Your words are so true about receiving. I had a hard time with receiving in my past. Praise the Lord that He has shown me I'm worthy to receive. It's an amazing, awesome experience to receive sacrificial gifts.

My heart is rejoicing with you over your new laptop! Yahoo!!!!!

Love you,
Amy

Joyful said... Reply to comment

Julie, I'm so excited for you! What a wonderful gift.

At a very young age my Mom taught me something that has remained with me. She would say to my sister and I, "It's just as wonderful to receive a gift graciously as it is to give graciously."

God gave and because of His grace, I receive. So thankful for the Gift and the Giver.

Enjoy your new gift,
Happy New Year,
Joy

Laura said... Reply to comment

Oh, Jewelz--what a precious gift the Lord has given you this Christmas! Receiving can be hard for me too. I'm so glad He is the Overcomer!

I pray your holiday was sweet.

Love,
Laura

ktwalden said... Reply to comment

Oh my...such beautiful words that really touched my heart. Your gift of putting into words what is confined in my heart has blessed me so much...Write on, sister, write on!!

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~j~ said... Reply to comment

Hi julie!
what a great, great post. How true these words are to my own heart right now. I love how the Lord will use our own precious families to show us the greatest lessons of the heart. I love that your man stepped out in faith and blessed you with that laptop!
xo
julia

Shanda said... Reply to comment

I'm afraid I'm more of a cost counter than a receiver of extravagant love. I too have seen sacrificial love through my husband and have honestly never understood it. It's just something I struggle to wrap my mind around.

I'm so glad I get to keep receiving HIS gifts through your words and encouragement now that you have a new laptop!

Just To Praise Him... said... Reply to comment

Hey there. I sent this to my Pastor's wife and it made her cry. She loved it. She needed it. Thankyou and I hope you had a great Christmas holiday...

Nicole

Paula said... Reply to comment

Congratulations! Not just on the gift, but on the break-through!

And I love it that you have such a tangible reminder that your husband believes in you and your writing.

Gretchen said... Reply to comment

Wow! Yay for you, Yay for your husband, Yay for God. Just Yay! You do indeed have a ministry, and you do indeed share His extravagant love with the rest of us. And I just want to humbly say: thank you.

xxxooogretchen

graceunbound said... Reply to comment

What a beautiful post; I have tears in my eyes as I consider how often I've backed away from lavish love, believing myself to be unworthy.

I am looking forward to coming back to your blog again.

karin said... Reply to comment

THANK YOU SO MUCH! I really needed that!