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Joyful Love

~ confessions of a nursery school student in God's school of love ~

Feb 17, 2002

One of my longest-running and most heartfelt prayers over the years has been to understand how to adequately express love to others. I was a loner in my youth, and had no idea how to extend my heart toward others. Being easily hurt, I avoided the risk of pain that came with human interaction.

After spending the last thirty years attempting to grow spiritually, I´m now convinced that my status in life is best described as that of “a nursery school student in God´s school of love”. To me, that´s quite a big step, considering the fact that I had once been described as “a little Hitler” and a “person with no heart”. Even though my teacher meant the little Hitler phrase in jest, it was true that I had spent too much time in the realm of intellect and doing things by the book.

Eventually, through God´s mercy and with the help of my soft hearted wife, I began to realize that expressing God´s love to others was more important than a life centered on legalism. It finally became clear to me that searching for truth and living a life of faith required an acknowledgment that love was the highest truth of all. An intelligent reader will at once say, “Well, I could have told you that.”

Sigh. Yes, indeed. That´s why I´m still in nursery school.

It´s ironic that in our search for God we sometimes forget that love is the original motivation for everything, and instead spend a great deal of time in “righteousness”. It´s a subtle trap, for righteousness is often motivated by a faithful desire to attain goodness. Unfortunately, righteousness without love is empty. It only carries a person so far, before one begins to feel unfulfilled. River beds are fine things, but without an everlasting supply of water surging between their banks, they´re just gullies filled with rocks.

The water of love is extraordinary. It slips into places where nothing else can go. It embraces and covers the roughest of exteriors. It´s soft and gentle, yet it´s the strongest power in the universe. When one thinks long enough about it, it becomes logically apparent that God wouldn´t have spent vast eons of time creating the universe for His children unless He was driven by the passion of eternal love.

I think passion is a good way to describe the depth of feeling that God must have had as He expressed His white-hot, burning transcendent love in the creation of the universe. The universe doesn´t reflect casual or dutiful love. God´s love at the time of creation couldn´t have been a love that echoed off the walls of dry religious libraries. It was a love that was meant to be perceived and felt. We´re staggered by the beauty of creation. We feel God´s love endlessly as we drink in the sensory overload of what He made for us.

More than anything, we feel how much God understands us. He knows every part of us. Harvard Ph.D. Patrick Glynn writes in God: The Evidence that scientists are now realizing that the entire universe was designed down to the subatomic level for only one purpose -- to support the lives of human beings. What could the motivation for such infinite meticulousness be, but the desire to express love to His children?

With God as our example of parental love, it becomes a no-brainer to compare our own quality of unselfish love. With every passing year, I become even more intensely aware that “knowing” about truth is insufficient if I can´t express God´s love to the person next to me. The real kicker is that the person next to me is the final arbiter of whether or not I get a good grade with my nursery school assignment. If the object of my love doesn´t perceive my love and doesn´t feel joy because of my love, then did I express God´s love adequately?

I´m convinced that the innermost heart of each person is directly connected to God´s heart, very much like a spiritual umbilical cord that grants each person the capability to feel and express God´s love. Although love includes many flavors, such as the strict love of a disciplining parent, I believe that the essence and goal of love is the joy felt in its exchange. Joyful love between God and each person, and between all human beings, will eventually create the atmosphere of the world we all dream about.

Until then, I´m working hard to get to the first grade.

Peter Falkenberg Brown is passionate about writing, publishing, public speaking and film. He hopes that someday he can live up to one of his favorite mottos: “Expressing God’s kind and compassionate love in all directions, every second of every day, creates an infinitely expanding sphere of heart.”

~ Deus est auctor amoris et decoris. ~

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Peter Falkenberg Brown
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