“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us …” — 1 John 4:10
The boisterous chatter of elementary school children filled the school bus and I stared blankly out the window with knots in my stomach.
My classmates could hardly contain their Friday afternoon excitement, but all I could think about was the history test crammed deep inside my backpack with a giant F written across it. And it required a parent’s signature.
I ran through all the excuses I could think of: it wasn’t my fault … I did the best I could.
“How was your day?” my mother asked.
Immediately all of my carefully planned excuses vanished. I handed her the crumpled test and whispered a wavering, “I’m sorry.”
She was silent for a moment as she stared at the bright red letter I believed defined me — Failure.
Seeing the shame on my face, she looked me square in my tear-filled eyes and spoke words that taught me the power of love:
“This doesn’t change, even for a second, how much I love you.”
She signed the test, handed it back to me, and we never spoke of it again.
My next history test was an astonishing improvement.
Something miraculous happens when we realize our true worth.
The love that finds us in weakness is the love that transforms our weakness. It moves us from earning, striving, and defending to receiving, loving, and giving … from being consumed with ourselves to being compelled to meet the needs of others.
This is the love that Christ embodied so that a broken world could comprehend its true worth … so that a world in longing could finally be free.
When we open our hearts to encounter the depths of God’s love for us, we also open our hearts to love those around us in an increased capacity. This is the very source of love we have to give a world in desperate need.
We love because He first loved us.
It’s easy to let exhaustion take over this time of year … to eagerly await the holiday break so we can unplug and re-energize. But this Advent season, let’s carve out time to behold the only love that empowers us to bring light and hope to those around us.
And then let’s do exactly that.
Let’s celebrate the love that found us in our weakness by allowing it to overflow into the life of someone in need.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters … Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18).