Sometimes a verse hits you right between the eyes. With a big old resounding "THUNK." Even a verse you've seen a dozen or a hundred times before. Especially if it's in a less common translation. That's why I love Bible verse websites with multiple translation options.
Anyhoo, this one grabbed me and won't let me go...
"Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality."Romans 12:9-13 (NLTB)
Can we pray about it together?
I didn't think I was doing it, but then I read your Living Word and you opened my eyes. Sometimes I pretend to love, even with those most precious to me. Sometimes I go through the motions. Sometimes I hold back some of myself. Sometimes I'm just too tired to dig deeper. And oh, today I do feel too tired.
Forgive me. Give me your pardon. And please, pretty please, give me more of your love: the unending, unconditional, unlimited variety. Because I want my Mr. and my kiddos to know that they are some of the most fantabulistic (yeah, made up word, but it's true!) people ever created, and I love the fuzz off of them. Because I want my sister and parents and steps and in-laws to know that I am grateful for how each one of them has had an important hand in shaping who I am, for how each one of them fits into the fabric of my life. Because I want my friends to know how they lift me up and extend me and fill me with their laughter, their stories, their caring, their truth.
Lord, keep on busting my chops when I go through the motions. When I brush a hurried kiss across my husband's cheek. When I shoo the kids onto the bus, distracted with to-do lists. When I listen, but do not hear. When I think of, but do not call. When I care, but do not serve. I want to be stone cold busted on these behaviors because that is not what these people, my people, deserve.
You have placed these amazing individuals in my midst so that my life may be full. Help me to hold them tightly and return the fullness of joy that they share with me. Make me the queen of simple, non-stressed hospitality, inviting my loved ones in to share a slice of laughter, a cup of enthusiasm, a plate full of good. Make me the unexpected and delightful surprise caller, who reaches out just to share a good mood. Make me the eager servant, genuinely joyful to do a kind deed for another in need. Help me to honor the good in others, to stop and say a heartfelt thanks, to give a hearty hug, to listen deeply to the "How are you?" answer.
To do this best, I know I need to slow down, not rush. I need to live peace, not stress. I need to see hope, not limitations. I need to breathe joy, not despair. I need to embrace goodness, not temptation. I need to practice patience, not frustration. I need so much, but all I need is in you.
You first loved us. And now, good and giving Lord, help me abide in your love. Let it be in each breathe I take. Let it exist in each exhalation I make. In all that comes into my being and all that goes out, may your love exist and extend.
May you feel my love for you, dear reader and friend. Thank you for tuning in, for praying, for living your faith out loud.