Recently my uncle passed away and up until then, I had never known how it felt to lose a close family member. The pain was overwhelming and it propelled me into what felt like a journey through the desert, sprinkled with mere mirages of happiness.
During this journey, one day rolled into the next and tipped over into the following week; which felt like a year of sorrow. I yearned for a means of escape, a remote to fast forward, and for God to realise that the load was becoming too heavy to bear. I was more than ready to be ushered into the promised land of better days. Little did I know, that there was much more to be had from this seemingly negative experience than I had expected.
Manna from Heaven
In the midst of all the sorrow and depression around me, I found solace in prayer. I prayed for the healing of my family's hearts and that this death would not be in vain, but would teach us something valuable.
Sometime after, my grieving mother said to me, "Danielle, we need to start loving people while they're still alive, I mean really loving them." Upon hearing her say that, I felt as though God had sent manna to feed my starving soul. The valuable lesson that I had prayed for began to unfold, and now I knew why Jesus referred to "Love your neighbour as yourself" (Matthew chapter 22 verse 39) as the second greatest commandment.
It was the experience of loss that reminded me of how easily we get distracted from doing that which Christ calls us to do. To love, not only when it is convenient or when we are in a good mood, but all day every day, instead of waiting to express these feelings in a eulogy.
I could not stop thinking of how different things would be if we put all of our efforts into obeying this commandment. Personally, I realised that I had been stuck in a state of limbo between hating those who were insensitive or in any way worthy of blame, and trying to fight those feelings because of Jesus' command. Although I was told that this was normal for people who were grieving, this didn't change the fact that many of us exist in this state of limbo, in our everyday lives.
Good People/God's People
God did not call us to pretend to be "good people" by the world's standard, but to genuinely love others by His example and with the help of His Holy Spirit. After washing his disciples' feet, Jesus instructed them to love each other just as he has loved them, because this is how they would prove to the world that they were his disciples (John chapter 13 verses 34-35).
In the following chapter He promised to send them the Holy Spirit who would help them after he physically left, by teaching them and reminding them of all that he said.
The Love of Christ
When we read what is documented about Jesus' life in the Bible, we see how completely he loved others regardless of their sin, status or attitude. This love was evident in many ways, including: the way that he spoke to people, how selflessly he served them, the warnings that he gave to them and the miracles that he worked to heal them, even though they persecuted him.
My favourite example of this can be found in Luke chapter 22 verses 50 and 51, when the chief priests and the officers came to arrest Jesus and one of his angered disciples, cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. To this act Jesus responded by healing the man's ear, despite the fact that he knew what they had in store for him.
After reading such records I cannot stop thinking that the disciples were truly privileged to be able to witness such pure acts of selfless love on a daily basis, as well as how necessary it is that we reflect this love in our everyday lives.
Upon exiting the desert, my prayer is for God to help me to love as Christ loved, and to face the deserts to come as journey's to strengthen me in my pursuit of Christ.
Danielle Jones was born on the beautiful island of Barbados to phenomenal parents. She is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Arts in Drama as a part of a joint programme between the University of the West Indies, Mona and the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Jamaica. She hopes to speak fluent Spanish someday, do global missionary work and spread the love of Christ.
Danielle Jones' previous articles may be viewed at http:/www.pressserviceinternational.org/danielle-jones.html" target="_blank">http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/danielle-jones.html