Today’s devotion from Girlfriends in God was very convicting to me, and I thought I’d share:

April 21, 2009
Here Comes the Judge!
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
“Love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12

Friend to Friend
A lady in a faded gingham dress and her husband, dressed in homespun, thread bare clothes, stepped off the train in Boston, and walked timidly into the Harvard University President’s outer office where they had no appointment. The secretary could tell with one glance that such backwoods, country hicks had no business at Harvard and probably didn’t even deserve to be in Cambridge. She frowned. “We want to see the president,” the man said softly. “He’ll be busy all day,” the secretary snapped. “We’ll wait,” the lady replied.

For hours, the secretary ignored them, hoping that the couple would finally become discouraged and go away. They didn’t and the secretary grew more angry and frustrated by the moment. Finally, with great hesitation, she decided to disturb the president. “Maybe if they just see you for a few minutes, they’ll leave,” she told him. He sighed in exasperation and nodded. Someone of his importance obviously didn’t have the time to spend with them, but he detested gingham dresses and homespun suits cluttering up his outer office. The president, stern faced and with dignity, strutted toward the couple.

The lady told him, “We had a son who attended Harvard for one year. He loved Harvard and was happy here. But about a year ago, he was accidentally killed so my husband and I would like to erect a memorial to him, somewhere on campus.” The president wasn’t touched. In fact, he was shocked. “Madam,” he said, gruffly, “we can’t put up a statue for every person who has attended Harvard and died. If we did, this place would look like a cemetery.” “Oh, no,” the lady explained quickly. “We don’t want to erect a statue. We thought we would like to give a building to Harvard.” The president rolled his eyes. He glanced at the gingham dress and homespun suit and then exclaimed, “A building! Do you have any earthly idea how much a building costs? We have over seven-and-a-half million dollars in the physical plant at Harvard.” For a moment, the lady was silent. The president was pleased. Maybe he could get rid of them now.

The lady turned to her husband and said quietly, “Is that all it costs to start a university? Why don’t we just start our own?” Her husband nodded. The president’s face wilted in confusion and bewilderment. Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford got up and walked away, traveling to Palo Alto, California where they established the university that bears their name, a memorial to a son that Harvard no longer cared about.

I wonder how many blessings we miss because we are quick to judge and slow to love. It may surprise you to know that God does not love us because we are so lovable. God loves us because He is love! We all long for someone who will love us just as we are, but wonder if such a love even exists and if it does, is it available to us. Unconditional love does exist and it is available to each one of us – just as we are – through Jesus Christ.

God’s love is a gift. It is neither earned nor deserved. Just as with any gift from God, His love is not only given for our benefit but for us to share as well. When we experience the love of God, He then calls us to love like He loves and teaches us how to celebrate the differences in each other instead of insisting that people change. There must be a thread of elasticity running through the very fiber of every relationship – especially our relationships with difficult people. The truth is that those who deserve love the least need love the most. Just as we cannot allow others to define us, we must stop trying to control, change and define others.

Let’s Pray
Father, forgive my arrogance when I judge others. I want to learn how to celebrate the differences in others instead of trying to shape them into something I find pleasing. Forgive my impatience when someone does not “measure up” to my standards and then forgive me for even having a standard by which to love and accept others. You love and accept me — just as I am. Thank You, Father. Please help me see others as You see them and love them as You love them.

In Jesus’ name,

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