Tag Archives: regret

The Candle of Love: Conflict and Love


This past Sunday we lit the fourth Advent candle, the candle of love.  As we did so I got thinking about what we know of love.  Church goers will be familiar with the scriptural quote from John 3:16, “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.”  That is a love that would be hard to emulate wouldn’t it?  And then there are the words from 1 Corinthians 13, 

1If I speak in the tonguesa of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If 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. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,b but have not love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

On reading these sections of the Bible I think we risk getting a very romanticized idea of perfect, comfortable love which will always meet our needs and never be challenging.  So what about all those conflicts in our families?  I believe we miss out on a rather significant point from God’s love letter to his people, as the Bible is often called, we have often been in conflict with God.

In my classes lately we have been looking at Dr. John Gray’s love letter technique for dealing with conflict within relationships.  One of the things that is so powerful about this technique is that it focuses not on everything that is wrong with the other person, but on our own feelings.  The idea is that by going systematically through all the feelings and writing them out we will find ourselves back at love.  There is a section for each of; Anger, Sadness, Fear, Regret, and Love.  My students often start out rejecting the idea out of hand because it starts out with such negative feelings.  After all, we aren’t supposed to get angry, jealous, etc. 

Let’s look at those again.  We have read about the wrath of God, and out of anger Jesus destroyed the fig tree.  Every time humans have turned their backs on God and strayed it must have saddened God, as it would any parent when rejected by their children.  Jesus is moved to sadness over the troubles of others, and he cries in sadness and some degree of fear over the challenge in facing the cross.  It seems clear that God has felt regret if only by looking at the number of times we were cast out, sent into exile or in other ways punished, only to be taken up again in God’s arms. 

If things in your relationships are not all rosy and exciting as we head into Christmas, do not feel that the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love are not for you!  It is because of God’s love (anger, sadness, fear, regret and all) that we were sent the awesome gift of Jesus.  It is out of God’s love that we are offered grace.  It may take us years to unwrap it, but the gift remains there for those who believe. 

To find out more about the Love Letter Technique read Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by Dr. John Gray

Publisher HarperCollins
Released 1992
ISBN ISBN 0007152590

Noah’s Covenant With God: Has God Found A Loophole?


It has been raining here in New Brunswick for a couple of days.  I am not normally one to enjoy rain, but at this time of year when you can watch it melting away the snow on the yard and the ice in the driveway I love it!  The worst that happens when it rains, for where I live, is that we might get a little water in my basement.  This is not the case for my friends who live near the St. John river.  When their basements flood it is right up the stairs, their driveways wash out etc.

 

None of this holds a candle to the destruction that floods have caused in India, Australia,  and many other countries in the past months and years.  But even the footage of the cars being swept out of the parking lot and down the stream from Australia is nothing compared to the power of the earthquakes and tsunami waters in Japan this week.

 

My Lenten reading yesterday was about Noah’s Ark.  In the story introduction it was covering the behaviour of  mankind and God’s reaction to that behaviour.  It actually amazed me that I never noticed this section of scriptures in the times I have read through Genesis.  There were references to sons of gods making babies with daughters of  humans, Nephlim and all sorts of strange stuff.  I actually felt a bit like I was reading something from Greek mythology.  I am still curious about this and will continue to puzzle my way through to some kind of understanding of the passage.  The key point though is simple, things were bad and God was fed up!

 

Driving along in the car my daughter and I got talking about this passage and how strange it sounded.  She agreed with the mythology sound and mentioned the fact that most of the world’s religions include a story of a great flood.  We agreed that it makes sense that there really was a flood of somewhat immense proportions and that each group relayed the story through their own perspective.  

 

It is hard to read about God being so angry that he actually regretted having ever created us and wanted to wipe us out.  So much of our comfort comes from God resting at the end of the day and saying, “It is good!”  He was happy with us, he sent his son to save us because he loves us, and yet here he is very early in our story regretting our very creation.  

 

We agreed that things must have been pretty desperate.  My daughter asked if it was better or worse now and whether I ever wonder if God regrets having promised never to flood the world again.  If you were in Japan right now you might be justified in wondering if God has found some sort of loophole in that covenant he made so long ago with Noah. 

 

There isn’t really any way to compare the level of human depravity now to that of the time of the flood.  If it hadn’t been for Noah being a righteous man, we wouldn’t be here at all.  Look what has come from one righteous man and his family.  We should take some comfort in that.  At a time with attendance in the main-line churches is on the decline we need to remember that sometimes just one righteous man or woman standing up for what is right can result in stunning change!

 

As for the victims of the earthquake and flooding in Japan right now, and for those continuing to struggle with the results from earlier disasters, we need to remember them in our prayers, give as we are able whether that be in funds or service.

 

If your church is not taking donations to help the victims of disasters, you have no church, or you don’t know the best way for your money to make a difference on the ground I would recommend Presbyterian World Service and Development.  Find their relief link at presbyterian.ca