Last weekend Lori and I went to the movies. That is one way I minister to my wife. When she needs some refreshing time, we go to the movies. I enjoy them too, but it is a real treat to her. We stopped for food along the way at a Taco Bell. While eating I couldn’t help but notice this tall man with three young daughters at the quicky-mex fast food stop. I had to admire him. He was gentle and calm among these bustling girls ranging from teen to small child. They were out with daddy. I told Lori, that this man looked to be doing father-duty. Later, I saw them again at the theater. Sure enough, father was taking his girls to see the latest girl heart-throb movie. I doubt there was much for him in the movie, but he was there for his daughters. He was being stretched by love because love does that.

Sometimes I think that is what God is doing in our lives through relationships. He is stretching us. God is love. He invented it. He has enabled us to experience it because he made us to be relational beings. Yet, love is not easy, and we because of our selfish nature often mess it up. So, I see much of life as God leading us to stretch how much we can love others. What I mean by that is at first we find ourselves in a difficult position in a relationship. We and someone else are at odds. We are in conflict. If you and he/she are not family, that usually leads to walking away, ignoring or just hating them forever. Yet, if you are in a family, because it is family, it forces you to stay with it and keep loving beyond what you thought you could.

I’ve known that as a father. My son and I had some rough patches during his teens. Yet because I love him and keep loving him, God has taught me things about love I never knew I could possess. Just because of my son, I’ve learned to care for people I would never have been open to care for – people outside my comfort zone. I love and pray for his friends. I keep them on my facebook and Instagram. All of that came out of butting heads with my strong will child. God stretched me.

I learned to care for street persons because my brother was once on the streets. When your brother is on the streets, God reveals to you that everyone on the streets is someone’s brother, child, sister, daughter, etc. When I help them and they say thank you, sometimes I will say, “I understand. My brother was once on the streets.” They know it’s personal. I’m not just handing out $5 so they will go away.

What about you? Where is God stretching you to love more? I suggest you look at the very places where you are in conflict right now. When Jesus said to pray for your enemies and love those who hate you, he was trying to teach you what God is about. He was saying that God is trying to teach you to learn more about love than you now know. So, who do you have conflict with? Are they in your family? In your church family? In your community family? Start by praying for them. NO – Jesus did not mean for you to pray that God would smash them. Jesus wants you to ask God to bless them. To do good to them. When you can honestly want God to bless those you are hurting over, you are moving closer to knowing what Jesus is like. Jesus gave up everything to love you. He allowed himself to be smashed so you could be blessed. He wants you to learn the same.

This is Thanksgiving week. This is a good time to reconcile with someone you are not loving well. That is how I see life.