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Experience, then understand

Understanding and experiencing are related, but they can also come separately into one's life. We can experience something long before we understand it. The baby who touches something hot and then realizes it leaves a nasty sting may not understand how the heat came to be, or that it can be used for good, he just knows to stay away from it because it causes pain. The one who understands how 1,500 pieces of picture coated cardboard can all make a huge mural may not know how to fit those many pieces all together! When one actually understands AND experiences something, it is vastly different and there is a different appreciation for whatever it is they both understand and experience.

This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear. 

To understand God's love, we actually need to begin by experiencing it. It is kind of hard to understand it without first having tasted it, felt it, and basked in it a while. The love of God is often felt or experienced in the lives of those he purposefully allows to grace our pathway. There are key individuals 'purposefully placed' into our lives in order for us to begin to experience the different aspects of his love - something we eventually will come to understand through the experience. The more we experience of his love, the more we want to understand it, but trust me on this one...it is harder to understand than it is to experience!

Why is that so true for us? I think it could just be how very different his love is from the very 'natural' types of love we experience within relationships here on this earth. Our 'natural' form of love is very 'conditional' - it honestly has some strings attached no matter how we slice or dice it. There is a give and take kind of rhythm to our natural love. We give a little, hoping to take a little, and the cycle continues. Give, give, and give again without ever taking anything in return and you will likely find yourself a little exasperated in the relationship. Why? We actually crave or need something "out of" the relationship - there is a desired 'exchange'.

God's love isn't all that different, though. He desires something 'out of' the relationship - our dedication, commitment, and worship. Yet, he pursues even long before we get to the point of understanding this is important within the relationship. We don't understand how much these things are needed to help the relationship grow deeper, but we are drawn to it because of how his love reaches into the places of our heart not reached by any other thing or person. We don't understand how he draws us, or even how he touches those places of our heart, but we know for certain that we are experiencing a form of love we don't find elsewhere.

Get to know a little of God's love by experiencing it. He doesn't expect you to understand it right off the bat - he just invites you to experience it. In the experience, there will come a desire to understand it - to fully appreciate it and bask in it fully. The place of understanding comes in the experiencing. Just sayin!

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