I am completely in love with my nephew Caleb. I can’t get enough of his little face, the way he scrunches up his nose when he’s sleeping and his long little fingers that he likes to wave around. I might never know what it feels like to love one’s own child, but the love I have for him fills my heart in a amazing, unexpected way. Caleb has done nothing to earn my love for him (except being stinkin’ cute). He has no idea who I am, and I have yet to hold him, meet him in person.
We rode the bus back from the border, which is always an adventure and most often not a pleasant one. I get motion sick (light-headed, dizzy and weak), and this particular bus was rocky and the driver perhaps adding to the constant swaying with his speed and whipping around whatever was in his way. Cambodians get car sick very easily too. One mother brought her little girl up to the front when the motor in the back started emitting a strong burning smell that was too much for her to stand (but this did not warrant a stop to check things out by the driver). When the little girl lost her lunch, the mother brushed it on the floor (um, right next to me) with a towel that had probably been used for the same purpose several times.
The emotions in my heart were anything but love at that moment. Honestly I was frustrated that she was being inconsiderate to the people around her, that she wasn’t prepared with the little black bags they hand out for such purposes. I blamed her, and crossed the line into judgment, wondering how she didn’t know you just don’t do that.
Why was that my reaction? She didn’t do anything to earn my personal scorn. Yes, it was a rather unpleasant situation, and I was not at my best either after the wear and tear of bus travel. But why is it easy to love Caleb and not this woman?
I was struggling a bit with this as I lay awake this morning. If I am to work in western Cambodia, there will be a lot of people who are like this woman. I am called to love them. Not because there is a deep love in my heart for them but because God loves them. What if I had looked past myself, past the surface, to love the woman on the bus like God loves her? Would I have found a way to be more compassionate, instead of pulling back in disgust?
We cheapen love when we make it out to just be a feeling. In some ways, love is a way of seeing, seeing past the ugly exterior or the behavior that is contrary to what we consider to be right, to the heart of the matter. Isn’t that what God did with us? He saw past the sin that covered us like a black slime. He loved us even while we were still sinners. His love for us is not dependent on us, how we act or look or what we do. That is the beauty of grace, the beauty of love that gave all on the cross for us.
There is probably no way I can love the people of Cambodia or even be passionate about their salvation on my own accord. It must God’s grace and love that fills my heart, an unending flow of His love through me for those hard moments and even in the good. Oh that He would fill me with more of His love.