I'm not sure how to draw the link between Tuesday and Wednesday's devotionals... but it totally makes sense in my head! Bear with me...
First, I am passionate in a big way about this "ministry that lasts beyond the anguish of distress, tears, and crosses" and about "witnessing to dark, lonely hearts." It's one of the things that has drawn me back to the delta for the last 5 summers, and it's what gives me motivation to push through classes and wake up early for my hospital rotations. God has given me a heart of compassion for people in broken places, and I literally feel compelled to pursue such people out of the overflow of my love for Jesus and out of the overflow of his love for me (which I still don't get... what the heck, Jesus?!).
But what I'm learning more and more is that I cannot possess a sincere love for people out of my own store houses of love. Rather, my sincere love for others MUST flow from my genuine love of Christ. I think that's why John 15 drop kicks me every time: Jesus says, "ABIDE IN ME" and then (and only then) will we bear any fruit. I sense Jesus say to me, "Emily, focus only on loving me and letting me love you. That is the inspired love that will fuel ministry that lasts beyond the anguish of distress, tears, and crosses." And as I focus there, as I focus on just that love relationship, as my eyes stay locked on Jesus' eyes, I find (here comes the link from Tuesday to Wednesday) that Jesus calls me to die. I sense him say, "Emily, focus on loving me and letting me love you. And as you focus there, you'll find that you've taken up your cross, followed me up Calvary, and climbed up on your cross next to me." It's painful, and it stinks (I just had to "word softener" myself!) sometimes, but Jesus is showing me that as I die to what I think I need and think I should be able to do, I discover Him in a new way. My cup is filled to overflowing, and I find I again have the strength and energy to witness to dark lonely hearts and to love others sincerely out of the love that has been shown to me.
Genuine love of (and by!) Christ flows naturally into a sincere love for others!