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Practical Spirituality: The Tie That Binds

Hope Weekly - August 20, 2012


It’s a cold, dark 3:15 a.m. and a new, sleep-deprived parent – probably the mother (let’s tell the truth, guys) – is at wit’s end trying to comfort her crying baby. That bundle of joy has been going non-stop for two hours. Her call to the doctor yielded the medical shrug called “colic”. She’s on her own with no end, no peace, no rest in sight. Meanwhile, another busy day looms ahead like Mount Everest. Propagating the race really doesn’t mean much to her right now.

Different scene. It’s a South Pacific beachhead (or a Normandy landing, or Korean hillside, or Vietnam jungle, or Iraqi or Afghan village; take your pick). Soldiers are in a firefight, combating to stay alive and make the enemy stop shooting. Country, cause, and duty mean little to the soldiers right now.

In both cases, why not just throw in the towel? Why not just pack up, leave, and look out for #1? Answer: Love. The mom can’t escape the powerful bond her little blanketed baloney loaf has over her heart. The soldiers are desperate not to let their buddies down (and they don’t even like half of them). When the spam hits the fan and all else fails, it’s love that drives us to sacrifice ourselves for others. We can’t help it; love is the most powerful spiritual force in the universe.

The physical universe is held together by forces like gravity and nuclear bonds. The spiritual world is held together by one force – love. We are made to be together. We are not seven billion isolated islands unto ourselves. With the exception of a few wounded hermits, we are irresistibly attracted to others. Love is one of the spiritual laws built into the universe. We can count on it.

In the physical world, those attractions cause planets and particles to collide, rub, and even destroy one another. Heat and friction wear down the universe. We reduce that friction and heat by using wheels, ball bearings, and lubricants.

In the spiritual world, where people collide and rub, heat and friction threaten to wear us down, too. That’s why God prescribes lubricants for the soul. Forgiveness, kindness, justice, mercy, and grace. They aren’t optional if we are to survive the crushing gravity of love. They are why Jesus came and sacrificed himself. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Here’s where I’m supposed to encourage you to love. After all, Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ And…‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matt 22:37, 39) But, frankly, I’ve never successfully commanded love – mine or anyone else’s.

So I leave you with this exercise. John said, “God is love.” (I Jn 4:8) Let yourself be loved by God. Soak in his extravagant love until your toes turn pruney. Just linger with the One who is love and see what it does to you.

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Mike Pulley

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