- Dawn Richardson
Recently while having lunch with a sheikh known for torturing people to death, I felt the heart-skip clamor of undone love. I did. There in Baghdad, Iraq in a compound guarded 24/7 by four armed guards (eight on Sundays) I fell in love. More in love, I should say. It’s magnetic: this starry-eyed love. And it’s catastrophic, in the very best sense.
The smitten-ness is not foolish, as some understand foolishness. It is not naiveté, as some understand naiveté. It’s true. It’s true love. Some say I’ve gone too far, or alternatively “WHY are you going that far?” I’ve gotten a lot of flak for loving terrorists. Yet, love knows no bounds. There is no way around it, love is love; and endless, or it isn’t real LOVE, unconditional love. It is all or nothing.
Jesus once/always/now is saying something outrageous:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)
Our response is all or nothing. Either you obey Jesus and love everyone, or you disobey Jesus and you don’t.
Our call to the nations centers on complete love. Complete love is love that is always “on.” Wars could be prevented by love. That unnecessary argument with your friend could be circumvented by love.
What is it that holds us back?
I’d say fear. Fear keeps us from unconditional love.
We are afraid because we do not have a full revelation of Who God is. HE is LOVE. We need a love encounter with God. We need to fall madly in love with Him again, and endlessly thereafter.
“Perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)
An encounter with God will do that.
Then maybe you’ll find yourself hugging warzones to life – or your next door neighbor who screams at his kids – or the cashier who irritably handed you your change.
It’s all the same. It’s all courageous love.
It’s what brought me to a sheikh known for torturing people to death. It’s what brought me to ambassadors, sheikhs, politicians, and the judge who presided over Saddam Hussein’s trial. Love.
For sixteen years I dreamed of being in a Middle East warzone, loving terrorists to life. People said it was impossible and it would never happen, but they were wrong. Mr. Incarnate Love Himself put that dream in my heart; and He escorted me to its fulfillment.
He loves terrorists too.
He also understands that their hatred comes from their pain and misunderstanding – just like He understands my insecurities, or yours. He wants wholeness. Wholeness comes through experiencing love.
In order to give love, you must experience it yourself.
If it has felt elusive, be encouraged: It is not.
One of the best ways to experience God’s love is to invite Him to encounter you. Take some time today to lie down, breathe deeply, and welcome an encounter with God’s love. Say, “God I want to feel the fullness of Your love for me. I welcome You to encounter me with Your love.” Be still and clear your mind of distractions. Give at least 15 minutes. Then keep at it – taking pause time throughout the week to cultivate a new depth of intimacy with God. He’ll meet you there.
You might not love terrorists or the grouchy cashier immediately, but it will come. God wants you to encounter His love more than you want to encounter it. He is eager to lavish you with His goodness TODAY. Enjoy it. And let me know what happens.
Dawn Richardson is overflowing with outrageous hope. She’s also 32 years old with three Master’s degrees: Religion, Counseling, and Middle Eastern Cultures and Religions. She taught at a community college in Massachusetts before living in Israel/Palestine three years. Then she completed two years at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. She recently released her first book, Middle East Insights: A Smattering of Writings, available here. She’s madly in love with Jesus and passionate about the Middle East. In 2012 she plans to begin working full-time in the Middle East while being based in Baghdad, Iraq; and Redding, California. She also loves austere poetry, outlandish creativity, and evenings full of laughter. You can keep up with Dawn on her website, read more of her thoughts on her blog or follow her on twitter @hopeiraq.