"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
"Love never fails..."
1 Corinthians 13:1-8
I could probably recite this entire passage to you just because of the fact that I have heard it repeated and read aloud all my life (a lot of times, it was used to scold me), and because of it's familiarity, it eventually lost its power and impact on me. Sure, love is patient, love is kinda, etc. etc. Same old, same old. They became well known words to me, just words.
Until this summer. I spent a month in Romania with an incredible team of eight other people who took quickly took the role of my brothers and sisters and awesome role models. Each morning of the entire month our leaders had us do a quiet time for at least an hour. I have probably never read the Bible or prayed as much as I did in that one month. You can't truly read the Word without finding new meaning in the verses you've known all your life. As you dig deeper, it takes on a whole new form to you--or at least, it did to me. I realized that the lie I had believed that only some were called, was just that; a lie. All the words that Jesus spoke to his chosen disciples applied to me, too, for I am a disciple. And if those words, didn't all the others, too? Maybe?
As I reread passages that had grown stale to me, I was shaken. My favorite chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, was no longer a feel-good read about this awesome love. All of a sudden, it was a challenge, and command that I realized I didn't meet. I love people, really, I do. But I love people selfishly, I love them on my terms in my own way and when I want. My, my, my. But wait, aren't I supposed to no longer live, but Christ live in me? And I'm pretty sure that Christ lived patiently...and with kindness...and even unselfishly.
So hold on, if Christ loved and loves like that, aren't I also supposed to? And then it hit me; I was called to love. Absolutely everyone. My family, my friends, Maurice the homeless man, my enemies, and even people who hurt me. And oh yeah, I had to pray for them, too. Uh-huh. ...No way. Because it feels like every time I pray for the people I despise the most, God shows me something within my own life that is wrong! And I struggle, and I fight because after all, aren't I the one who's being good, the better person, because, I mean really, I'm praying for those people and getting over myself. But it's not enough, because it's of me.
I never fathomed that I would be called, to hard things and awesome things. I never thought that I would be called in the first place.