I was studying today, and my friend walked up to share a table with me. I paused to talk for a moment as she pulled out her laptop. The sticker on the cover read "LOVE WINS." Those words were all I could think about for the rest of the day.

Love wins. I have a friend who calls me no matter how long it's been since the last time we've talked. She will often call me three or four times before I call her back. I would think that she would be so frustrated with me by now. We laugh about it when we get together. Her love is greater than my shortcomings. It always wins.

Love wins. I was locked out of my house the other day, and at 1:30 in the morning, I woke up my roommate who had a test the next day to let me in. The next morning, she gave me a huge hug as usual, as if I had never been thoughtless enough to forget my key and selfish enough to disturb her sleep. She never fails me.

Love wins. I say this not because I see it overcoming all in my life, because I definitely don't love like my two friends do. I say this because these words are weighted with hope - hope that my battles are not in vain.

Sometimes I feel like I'm fighting so hard to love others, and sometimes I'm fighting to let others love me. Other times, I'm just fighting for God's love to penetrate my hard heart and warm me from the inside out. It seems in vain. It seems like I'm losing all the time. I feel like I'm never reaching the full potential of love.

That's just the thing, though. I'm not reaching the potential. My efforts are in vain. I am losing - to Love, that is.

I'm realizing every day that Love wins; it wins me. In my battles, I am fighting so hard to live and love, when ironically I'm losing to a Love that is taking me over. It's like I'm swimming towards the boat, trying so hard to get inside so I can start making progress, so I can start moving forward in life, and all He wants me to do is stop and drown - drown in the waves of His Love.

It's so contradictory to what I've thought all my life. I've constantly chased after this life I think He wants me to live, and He wants me to stop and let Him consume me. He wants me to stop fighting and let Love win. And I've thought all along I had to "reach the boat" to get to the Love and where I can finally act out of that Love. I just need to give up and let Love wash over me - over, and over, and over again. And then let the tide take me where He wills.

Stop swimming for the boat. Drown. Let the water seep into my lungs until they're so full that it hurts to breathe. I will die, that is for sure.

But Love wins.



Ephesians 2:4-5 says, "But God, rich in Mercy, because of His great Love, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive in Christ - it is by Grace we have been saved."

It is by grace we have been saved. But what is grace when we still live as if we're holding onto what's been freely given? None of it is ours except what He's given us. 1 Chronicles 29:14 says, "All things come from thee O Lord, and of thine own have we given thee." By God's grace we have been saved, not by our own righteousness.

This is all common knowledge, though, in the church today. Yes, we all know that we have been saved by grace. But do we? I will venture a guess and say that we don't. The reason for this is self-righteousness.

Self-righteousness is prevalent in America because we live in a society that "does the right thing," morally and socially. It is "right" to live good lives. People even look better on those that live somewhat holy lives, calling these elite people "gentlemen," "ladies," "considerate people," "he's a solid guy," "she's not that kind of girl," etc. Sin is tolerated in the non-religious sector of America (and even in some religious circles), but there is still respect in our society for those people who seem to have it together more than the rest. But we don't. No one does.

Yet, in our self-righteousness, we hear ourselves say, "Well I've never done this," or "At least I haven't done that." And if we don't say it, we're thinking it, if not conciously, then subconciously. And if it's not what we haven't done, then it's what we do. And so we keep adding up our good points and subtracting the bad ones and adding on more for the bad things we don't do. What does it amount to? Some number that really means nothing because it all adds to zero every time. And that's the point.

The point is zero. No matter what I do or don't do, my works add up to zero when counting righteousness. (I'm not talking about bearing fruit, so please don't be offended and think that I'm saying good works mean nothing. They do, but NOT in regards to our state. Good works are an outpouring and outflow of the state we are put in by God's grace. Because we are righteous by his grace, we bear good fruit out of obedience in that grace and freedom.) And here is where I believe that it is hard for us to understand His grace until we have messed up big time, over and over again. It is then that we see that we cannot add up any points; we're getting into negative numbers here and we're losing hope. We're realizing our depravity and desperation for some way out, and we can't find it. We're cycling through sin, and we want out so badly, but just can't leave it behind. Here is where we find the grace of God - when we see that we cannot even live one more day without His help, and that nothing we do can make up for what we've already done.

The sad irony of this is we're all in this place - liars, murderers, thieves, homosexuals, gossipers, haters, lusters, etc. No matter the size of the sin, or the weight that the world places on it, we all add up to zero. And that's the beauty of grace - when we realize our depravity and that the size of it is huge, and always has been huge, and always will be huge, we can surrender and realize that "no one is righteous" and we need Him to give us grace. And then we need His mercy day after day after day, and then some more.

I pray that we would realize our need, whatever it takes. It may take falling into sin. It may take being hurt by someone elses sin. But when you reach that place where you know without a doubt that God saved you and no one else, and that He'll save you every day from the bonds of sin and guilt, and that He provides endless stores of grace and mercy for past, present, and future mistakes, you will know the depths of His love for you.

And the wonderful thing is that when you know His love for you, and how you still can't comprehend it fully, then your heart longs to step out in obedience. And that is how we love Him back.