The rest of the story…

I had the great privilege and honor to be the speaker at Senior Honors Night last Friday night.  I was chosen by the seniors of the student government at Los Altos.  I have been somewhat overwhelmed by the response to the message.

In my speech, I talked about how what’s important tends to get lost in the platitudes of graduation time.  Seniors need to know how real life goes, and real life doesn’t always go according to plan.  I shared about our own trials with losing our son and with my wife’s cancer.  My main point was that material success can’t be counted on, can be lost, and won’t satisfy.  What we all really need is to learn to love.  But what is love?  Is it that emotion we feel at graduation or when we are “falling in love.”  No, that is merely an aroma of it. I told the story of Robert McQuilken as an example of real love (click to get his story).  Real love involves choosing to love even when it’s hard and we don’t feel like it.  Our world is desperate for this kind of enduring, committed, beautiful love that can transform our relationships, our careers, our very lives.  Everything else in this world can be taken from us, but what we do for love remains.

I was immediately caught off guard by the response of the audience.  I was humbled and a bit embarrassed.  Not to mention the fact that I was really sick and had to duck out early.

But since then my heart has been a bit heavy.  Because I was not able (because this is, after all, a public school) to give the rest of the story.

The rest of the story is that we, in the natural, probably cannot love like Robert McQuilken.  We cannot give out that which we have not received.  What enables someone to sacrificially put others’ needs before their own without getting their needs met in return? I believe it can only be done when one has been changed by and is secure in God’s love.  The Father fills us with his love (Romans 5:5).  And the only way to access God’s love is through relationship with Christ.  Once we are “in Christ,” we have access to the resources through the Holy Spirit that enable us to live this kind of life.  Of course, not all Christians seek this to the extent that they are changed much.  But in those that do, healing, beauty, and love can flow like streams of living water.

Without God’s love filling us and it overflowing out onto others, attempts to love others sacrificially usually devolve into codependence–the need to be needed, the living out of one’s identity as a slave to others, the martyr complex.  This kind of life breeds bitterness and resentment.  “Why don’t they appreciate all I have done for them! I’ve given up everything for them!”  Codependents seek to get life by giving themselves up for others, rather than finding life in the heart of the Father.  We cannot ultimately get life through other people, but we can experience the life we get from the Father with other people, and that is what makes our joy complete. When we are tranformed by the Father’s love, the people around us become wonders rather than curses.

So if you really want to love well and get to actually eat the double-double (inside joke from my speech), pursue God and all He has for you.  Everything else will leave you wanting and will not remain.

Providentially, my pastor preached on being found in God’s love just this Sunday.  What a perfect part II to my speech.  Listen here.

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