by Amanda Detweiler
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
- John 13:34-35
Just this last October, my family and I welcomed a sweet baby girl into the world. The weeks leading up to her birth were filled with preparations to get our home and ourselves ready to bring her home and care for her well. There was one Saturday in particular where I woke up with this intense drive to tackle the list of projects I wanted accomplished before she arrived. This drive is what they call the ‘nesting phase’ as the mother hen makes the nest just right for the new little chick. It didn’t matter the impact any of the tasks would actually have on the baby, they just had to get done.
When I set about my mission, I had blinders on and just focused in while my little boys played around me and my husband tended to his own to-do list, or so I thought. I was eight months pregnant at this point and still naive in thinking I could do everything myself so, I didn’t ask for any help. After I finished vacuuming the house from top to bottom, I went to move on to my next item and noticed that my husband had started having our boys help him clean other rooms of the house. I grabbed the curtains to hang in the baby’s room and he was behind me with the tool box and drill and ready to help before I said a word. He then went on to build the crib and he stayed in the nursery chatting with me while I set up some other decorations. We ended our day finally hanging up a particularly special item from our very first date and as we stood there together admiring our work, my heart felt so full.
The next day at church, where my husband is pastor, God used him during the message to speak into an area that I had been really struggling to surrender to the Lord. The Lord had been calling me to step into a new season for about a year, but I doubted He was really inviting me to do so because it went so strongly against what I felt others expected of me. That morning, though, my husband ended his message with a Word he felt the Lord had given him for someone there. As he shared what God had laid on his heart, I could hear the Father speaking to me loud and clear through my husband. For the first time in that whole year I felt sure that the Lord truly was inviting me into this season.
At the end of the service I sat for a few moments reflecting on the certainty I felt in what the Father was calling me to and trying to understand why I felt so sure about His Word this time, when He had given me Words to support this calling all year. What I realized is that I was able to receive in confidence the Word the Lord had for me because I felt the fullness of His love for me.
The day before, my husband had given his whole day over to what was important to me. If you had compared our to-do lists of what needed to be finished before our daughter was born, I’m not sure that we would have had many of the same items. However, he gave me his time and attention to do what was important to me. And anyone who knows me knows that quality time is the most loving thing you can give me and he gave me an abundance that day. His outpouring of love tore down the walls of doubt that kept me from being able to fully believe that the Lord was speaking this amazing Word to me and I could now step into the season He set before me.
It was through this experience that the Lord showed me, it is by loving others well that they are able to hear from and be changed by the Father. In fact, Jesus tells us in John 13, “everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” It is by truly loving others that we reveal we belong to Jesus, we reveal Jesus Himself, and we reveal that they too are His.
So, how do we love others well? How do we love others in such a way that barriers break down and hearts are able to receive from the Father? For this, we look to the example Jesus set before us.
Time and time again we see Jesus step in and change the lives of people with a simple, yet deeply meaningful encounter. From the woman at the well, to Mary the prostitute, and the scandalous tax collector Zacchaeus, Jesus was able to step into their lives, reveal unconditional love they had never known and leave them forever changed. Jesus showed love with such ease that it can almost seem out of reach for us, but His ability to love in such an impactful way is wrapped up in such a simple act.
Jesus knew that in order to love others well, we must first be loved well. We cannot give what we do not have. God can and does use others to love us well, but they are not meant to be our source. Jesus did not get His fullness of love from Mary and Joseph or even the disciples. His overflowing love came straight from the Source, the Father, and it was the result of regular and consistent time spent with Him.
Throughout the Gospels we see it repeated that Jesus went away to be alone and pray. Luke 5:16 “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” We are not given the details of the conversations during these encounters, but in Matthew 6 He does reveal what is meant to take place when a person gets alone with the Father. He says in verses 6-8, “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore, do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”
In our time alone with the Father we get our needs met and are reassured of the love the Father has for us. We then emerge from the secret place tuned into the Father’s heart with the ability to see and love others as He does. We are able to approach others and show boundary-breaking love to them because we are in communication with the Creator of their heart, who wants to be known by them. We get to roll out the red carpet for what the Lord wants to reveal to their hearts.
Loving well always leads to the Father. Jesus’ life purpose was to love others to the Father, so He made sure to always have what He needed to do so and He implores us to do the same.
We are living in a time where strong opinions of how we should think, feel, and act change as quickly as they are posted on social media. It feels chaotic and confusing and a standard of measure is nowhere to be seen. But God’s mission through Jesus Christ, “that none should perish” (2 Peter 3:9), “but may have life, and have it to the full,” (John 10:10) remains unshaken. So, we must follow the leading of our Jesus and meet regularly in the secret place with the Father. There we can sort through our feelings and the confusion so we can step out with steady, full hearts and “love one another as [He] has loved [us]” (John 13:34), paving the way for every person to encounter the Father.
About the Author
Amanda is happily married to her wonderful husband, Josh, and is a mother to two amazing little boys. Together, Josh and she pastor a campus of Morningstar Fellowship in Pottstown, Pennsylvania and love being a part of that community. This is Amanda’s first venture in writing, but it has been a desire of her heart for a long time so, she is thrilled to have this opportunity. When she’s not writing, Amanda enjoys listening to various messages to grow her relationship with the Lord and spending time with her family and friends.
You can read Amanda’s “Sunday Inspiration” column on the 1st Sunday each month here at Pandora’s Box Gazette.