I had the opportunity to speak twice with my Haitian friends on my most recent trip to Jacmel, Haiti. The first time was Friday night, which I shared about in an earlier post and the second time was Sunday morning. I had offered to speak to the women since that is definitely my calling and comfort zone and I thought sharing with the women would be a real treat. BUT then they said, they wanted me to preach a message on Sunday morning to the whole church! OH MY, I am a speaker to women not men, I thought to myself and I am really not a preacher. After realizing that if God had brought me here He would equip me with what to share and He would speak through me. SO I prayed and felt like I needed to share a message on LOVE.
One of my favorite parts of attending church in another country is the worship! Worship has always been one of my favorite parts of my Sunday morning church experience so when I am privileged to be in another country there is something so incredible about hearing it in another language and this case the Haitians praise God in French Creole. I love that even though we speak a different language we are singing and worshiping the same God! The Haitians have learned several songs in English as to include us Americans when we are there in worship with them. So as we sang "How Great is our God" in English I felt at home and then they went into the bridge where they sang, "How Great Thou Art" in French Creole. That was Todd's favorite song, even though I do not know much French Creole I could recognize THAT song in any language!! The tears began to flow pretty good then as I remembered my two past visits and worshipping along side my husbands booming voice and presence. It was such an incredibly bittersweet moment!
It was time for me to share and I decided to start my time by showing the following video which if you have followed my blog closely you have probably already watched it BUT for those of you who haven't here it is again: http://vimeo.com/27926061 (it is a 9 minute video overview of highlights from Todd's life with many picture and even a small video clip from Todd's last trip to Haiti)
After the video was done I stood before the 300 or so in attendance and said, "I had the privilege of being married to that great man for 18 years! We came to Haiti twice together before and now I am here without him. I proceeded to share the story of how he passed away. I then shared that Todd loved Jesus, Todd loved people, Todd loved Haiti and Todd LOVED them!! But why did Todd love with such a GREAT BIG LOVE? Because GOD FIRST LOVED HIM!
I went on to share several passages about love; 1 John 4:19, "We love because He first loved us.." I believe Todd really understood just how much God loved him and loved people out of that great overflow!
I continued on with, Matthew 22:34-40,34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.
35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
I shared how God commanded us to love Him and love our neighbors. Who is our neighbor? I believe it is anyone who crosses your path. Todd embodied loving the LORD and loving others better than anyone I knew. He modeled what that looked like to the world. Many were watching... I was watching!! I paid attention and I realize as much as it would have been easy to checkout of life after losing Todd I realized that I had to continue to spread Gods love. I realize there are many unlovable people in our lives. I at times am unlovable but what I love so much about God is that no matter how I act toward Him and whether I chose to love Him, He loves me still!! He loved me so much that He showed the greatest act of love in allowing His one and only son to die on a cross for me! I have a son, I don't know if I would give him up for a unbelieving, unloving world. BUT HE DID!! Now that is some pretty incredible unconditional LOVE! I don't deserve His love yet He loves me anyway! He LOVES you too!!
I shared just one more scripture that morning John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, s0
you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
As I continued to share with the Haitians I told a story from after Todd's passing. I was speaking with a board member from our community and she said, "the thing I loved about Todd is that he didn't tell you how to live, he showed you how to live."
Todd loved Jesus and because He understood how much he was loved, he in turn demonstrated that GREAT LOVE, BIG time!!! EVEN to those the world would say were unlovable! He also understood that people would know His Jesus and that he was a disciple by how he loved!!
God uses us to love on the other to CHANGE the world!! Todd said that time and time again!!
I told those sweet brothers and sister in Haiti that I came back to Haiti because I loved them and that God loved them!! I challenged them to LOVE God and LOVE others BIG!!
I then sat down and the pastor stood up and said, "We no longer have Todd but we still have Cassi." I began to cry! Oh have I have such mixed emotions over that!! I paused and thanked God for that opportunity... through my tears.
Some of you reading this have never met Todd and I recently had a friend say, "I don't know much about how Todd died but I do know much about HOW he lived!"
Todd's death has made me think a lot about how well I am living this life God has given me and what people will remember when I die. I want to be remembered as someone who LOVED BIG!!
Is your life marked with BIG LOVE, unselfish acts that display BIG LOVE? BIG LOVE can take on many forms. A hug, a phone call, a card of encouragement, a meal to a neighbor, serving and loving the poor, watching a friends children, loving those who have wronged you and the list could go on and on... Do people see a LOVING God at the center of your life? I pray that FIRST you know and have experienced the BIG LOVE of God the Father THROUGH his son Jesus Christ and if you have that you are busy showing that BIG LOVE to everyone around you!!
I Live For More and LOVE BIG because HE FIRST LOVED ME!
PS. I received confirmation that I had shared the right message when I attended church the following Sunday in Austin and the pastor shared, Mark 12:28-34 (below) needless to say I hear Gods message loud and clear and with His help I will live it! =)
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.