1 John 4:19 (NIV)
We love because he first loved us.
I read a story about Michael, a boy whose father had left before he was born, whose mother had died of cancer.
Whenever Michael talked about his mom, he painted a picture of love and Christian care. He was with his aunt and uncle, a couple who didn't understand or especially like children. It was almost with a sense of glee that they regularly informed Michael he would be homeless if it were not for their generosity.
In spite of all Michael had gone through he managed to remain a gentle and gracious child. Perhaps in a desire to postpone going home, possibly because he had a genuine desire to be needed, Michael often stayed after school. In the classroom he busied himself cleaning erasers, picking up papers, and doing a host of little favors for his teacher. Michael loved the one-on-one attention. That's the way things continued until Thanksgiving.
Then, without explanation, Michael stopped staying after school. At the end of the day he simply disappeared with the other students. Confused, the teacher finally cornered him and asked, as gently as she could, "Michael, where have you been? It's not the same without you being around."
Michael kept his eyes fixed on the ground. He mumbled, "Really?"
"Really! It's not the same," said the teacher.
After their brief exchange, his teacher thought Michael might start staying after school again.
Then, right before Christmas break, Michael sidled up to her desk. He had a crumpled bag in his hand. He confessed, "I don't know how to wrap a Christmas present, but I made something for you." He gave her a box made out of Popsicle sticks. The teacher did the appropriate oohing and aahing and then she added, "Michael, is there something inside the box?"
He admitted there was, and then quickly added, "But you can't see what's inside."
"And why is that?"
"Because it's invisible. You can't see it, or taste it, or touch it, or smell it." Michael said, "But it's in there."
"What is it?" The teacher asked.
"My mother said it was something that makes you unafraid when you're scared, and can make you feel safe when you feel alone."
"And what can do such wonderful things?"
Michael whispered, "It's love." And with that he quietly and quickly exited the room. As for the Popsicle-stick box with invisible love in it, the teacher keeps it displayed in a most prominent place.
Michael knew love from his mother and from his teacher. They were reflecting the love they had received from the Savior.
No matter your circumstance or situation, no matter the grouches and curmudgeons you have in your life, I pray you may know the love of the crucified and risen Christ as well.
His love makes all the difference.
Dear Lord, thanks You for all You have done for us. Help us love others because You first loved us. In Jesus' Name. Amen.