Loving God by loving one another
January 29, 2012
We normally associate the month of February with romantic love, but what about loving God and loving one another as friends? As Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Have you ever thought about what it means to love God?
I believe Grandmother Howell can teach us about loving God and being a friend. Charles Colson in his book, “Loving God” writes that Grandmother Howell lost her husband and sons and became depressed to the point of death. But it seems Jesus had more for her to do on this earth as He guided her to write the following letter to the Atlantic Penitentiary in Atlanta, Ga.
“Dear inmate, I am a grandmother who love and care for you who are in a place you had not plans to be. My love and sympathy goes out to you. I am willing to be a friend to you in correspondent. If you like to hear from me, write me. I will answer every letter you write. A Christian friend, Grandmother Howell.”
The following two letters are examples of the many letters Grandmother Howell received.
“Dear Grandmother…was very happy to get your letter…the guys kidded me when they said I had a letter…I didn’t believe them but it was true…I don’t have anyone to care about me but the Lord and you…I’m in the hole now that is why I can write these letters…Why am I so afraid grandmother? Why doesn’t God answer my prayers about this?… I am really glad to know that there is someone out there who cares…I will remember you in my prayers every night starting now and for the rest of my life…please write back soon…love, Joe…In the love of Jesus.”
“Dear Grandmother, I received your letter and it made me sad when you wrote that you think you may not be alive much longer. I thought that I would wait and come to see you and then tell you all that you have meant to me, but now I have changed my mind. I’m going to tell you now. You’ve given me all the love and concern and care that I’ve missed for years and my whole outlook on life has changed. You’ve made me realize that life is worth living and that it’s not all bad. You claim it’s all God’s doing but I think you deserve the credit. I didn’t think I was capable of feeling love for anyone again but I know I love you as my very own precious grandmother. Granddaughter Janice”
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Grandmother Howell rather than dying of depression says, “…the Lord don’t need no quitters. Once in a while Satan tells me I’m getting too old, don’t remember things good…had to agree with him there. But we mustn’t listen to him.”
You see Grandmother Howell helps us understand that we love God by loving and caring for one another and that we should never give up on that caring. As Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brother, you did it to me.”
Pastor Jim Beilstein of Trinity Lutheran Church is a member of Carson Valley Ministers’ Association.