“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
One of my favourite American preachers/prophets, Lance Wallnau, posted this yesterday, and, as often with Lance’s stuff, and a few other people, it started a train of thought in me…..C S Lewis’s quote is very challenging in and of itself, and far be it from me to try and add to such a man’s sayings, but this is where God took me from there…!
As something of a ‘heart on the sleeve’ person, I’m only too aware of the danger of falling into the ‘tap’ so excellently worded by C S Lewis’ – I always want to love people, it’s one of the driving forces behind the last 30 years of my life: it’s why, when I’m involved in a meeting, I can’t just walk along a line of people – many of them NEEDING to be loved – saying ‘be healed’ and pushing them over. I like to sit with people, at least for some minutes, and get to know a little about them, before I’ll pray for them. Often, then, the prayer itself MIGHT be short: if it’s for healing, then frequently it’s just a ‘command’ – ‘in the name of Jesus’. Other times, it’s longer…. (I’d have to confess, though, to NOT being a ‘long-term’ counsellor!).
But in wearing my own heart on my sleeve, I know that, like the people who make themselves ‘vulnerable’ and open to me, in ministry times, I make myself open to major vulnerability, and, as Lewis said, the alternative is something I don’t even WANT to consider. The trouble is, there are people who hear me tell the ‘stories’ – I prefer them as ‘testimonies’ (stories can be misinterpreted as made up: that’s one of the countless reasons I love to take other people with me, so that they can know the testimonies, and experience God using them to return home and relay those testimonies to others). And, of course, Revelation 19:10 tells us that ‘the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy’…. I’d appreciate your prayers, as my vulnerability, which I’m aware of, is open to being abused.
It’s never easy to be betrayed, especially by people you once trusted: over the last goodness knows how many years, it’s happened a few times – maybe I’m just not a good chooser of friends! – but I just want to say – whatever you do – please, don’t take C S Lewis’s first option, and be closed. It’s what has damaged Christians for generations, and yes, you risk meeting people who want to control you, are jealous of you, maybe even want to stop you: but to love is the only option…..God will deal with the controllers, the abusers, even if we don’t ever know how.
I look at the picture on my Facebook profile page often: the adorable Ana Beiba, and her total unconditional love for over 100 (now) of society’s rejects: the elderly people with whom she not only shares her home, but her life, her time, her love, her heart, her compassion. I’ll never forget being at her home in April this year: the first thing she showed me after I’d arrived, with my little troupe, was the death certificate of an 88 year old ‘baby’ of hers, a gentleman who’d died the day before our visit, the tears ahe wept for a man to whom, for a time at least, at the ‘back end’ of his life, had given a home, companionship, food, love, care, clean clothes…. and she couldn’t afford the 400,000 pesos (then, about £140, US$220, AU$215) for his funeral. If he’d died on the street, where she rescued him from, she wouldn’t have had that worry: but then, nor would that lovely man have spent his last days in comfort. You risk when you love. Ana Beiba is constantly vulnerable to the loss of more ‘babies’, which is one of the reasons I’ll move heaven and earth, if I have to, to help her…one of the reasons I love who she is, what she lives for, and how she lives.
In the west, we’re such a ‘restrained’ race: I’m pretty open with telling people I know and love that I love them. Some people find that hard: not quite sure how to respond. Jesus said ‘Love one another’, not maintain a stiff upper lip and keep your feelings in check – ‘and by this will all men know that you’re my disciples’. I love Latin America, Africa, and some other places, because a much larger number of people will tell YOU that they love you….and believe me, it’s not too difficult to do! And, of course, the kiss on each cheek.. it is so totally affirming…. and a wonderful blessing.