A few months ago, my family and I adopted a wild baby duck whose family had been killed in a car accident. The way that this little critter came to us was so remarkable that all of us were convinced that the Lord had sent her. We couldn't help but think that our new addition would be the perfect mate for our favorite pet duck, Larry. We named our little mallard "Chloe," and we lavished her with attention and tender loving care. I must admit that I had some serious reservations from the start about adopting Chloe. It was only a year before her arrival that we had raised two other wild mallards, only to have them fly away a few months later. The pain and disappointment that I had experienced back then was still fresh in my mind, and I was reluctant to subject myself and my family to the same kind of anguish once again. Nevertheless, I pushed my fears aside and devoted myself to Chloe's daily care, trusting the Lord to work out the details. Over the next two months, we tried everything to get our other three ducks, especially Larry, to accept our new pet. We prayed in faith, expecting the Lord to intervene and bring peace among our four beloved pets. It never happened. My family and I watched as, one day, Chloe spread her wings and flew off to a new life in the wild without us. Once again, we were heartbroken. I began asking myself and the Lord some serious questions then. How could He bring Chloe into our lives, knowing she would only leave us in the end? What was the point? Where was the reward for all of our love, attention, and labor? What were we supposed to learn from this harrowing experience?
After much prayer and seeking God, I came to believe that the Lord was trying to teach my family and me about a different kind of love--a love that gives without reservation, expecting nothing in return. Jesus spoke of this kind of love when He was teaching us how we should treat our enemies: "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men." (Luke 6:35 NASB) It's the "expecting nothing in return" part that is often hardest for us to accept. We live in a generation where most people have the attitude, "What's in it for me?" But as children of God, we have a higher call. Jesus speaks about it again when He says: "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." (Luke 14:12-14 NIV) The Savior is telling us here that we should deliberately seek to bless those who aren't likely to pay us back. He wants us to give to others with a "no strings attached" attitude. When we do, we can trust that our rewards will come directly from the Lord. I know how easy it can be to have certain expectations as a parent, spouse, or child. When we invest a lot in our relationships, it's tempting to expect a lot from people in return. But this kind of attitude can be destructive because it can cause us to depend on others to meet our needs, instead of God. It would be wiser for us to give to others with a pure heart out of love for the Lord, trusting that He will reward us by meeting our needs and giving us the desires of our hearts. David wrote: "My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him." (Psalm 62:5 NKJV) Our greatest expectations must be from God, not others. I still miss Chloe very much, but now I have a peace in my heart because I know the time I spent with her was not in vain. God used her to teach me a valuable lesson about a special kind of love. Thank You, Lord. Thanks, Chloe.
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times that I gave to others with a "strings attached" attitude. Teach me how to be a blessing to others without expecting anything in return. Help me to rely only on You to meet all my needs, including my material, emotional, and social needs. Thank You for the abundance of earthly and heavenly rewards I'll reap as a result!
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