I have a phrase I use often. It goes something like, “A person cannot love outwardly unless he is loved inwardly”.

What does this mean? To me, it means that a primary focus in a person’s life will always be inward (selfish), until he knows in his heart he is already loved. Once love has come, having met every need, that person will find this love flowing out from himself toward others, naturally. That is part of what has been happening in my life, lately.

I thought I was past this. I thought I already knew I was loved, and to a certain extent, I did, intellectually. But only bits and pieces of that love had actually traveled from my mind to my heart, and thus, I was stuck on myself. To some degree, I still am, but it is becoming more easy to let the love flow outwards.

We can’t focus on others if we are not truly loved. That is not to say we can’t go against our nature and be very helpful, sacrificing our needs and desires for the cause of others. We can always try really, really hard and break ourselves against a boulder in accomplishing all manner of amazing feats in the name of selflessness. But none of that is love. Most of that is selfishness is disguise, and my, don’t we love to hear others talking about how selfless we seem to be?

I get the feeling that much of Jesus’ service to others was spontaneous. I think when a person is full of love, having received and realized that love from God, the love which pours out from him will be spontaneous as well. Sort of like spontaneous combustion.

That is why the other day, my advice to you was to live as though God already loves you, not as though you are trying to make Him love you. The difference between the two methods of life is astounding. A child who feels he is loved will go and play, spontaneously, and often. If he is secure in that love, every so often, he will check back with his mom or his dad, and then he will go off and play again. In fact, if you have noticed, a child only ever plays when everything is alright. If things aren’t alright, a child will most often stay near his parents, or near whatever gives him security.

We are a lot like a child in this respect. Is it any wonder we don’t play more than we do? Observing a child for several hours might do us far more good than a power sermon from a power preacher. Even though the power preacher may be able to guide you to a mountaintop, where you might then feel secure enough to celebrate and play, observing a child will show you that he can play in the valley, on the hill, in the mud, and under his bed. He doesn’t need an “experience” to feel alive or play. What he needs is security, a sense of love or well-being.

A child plays at every opportunity, every day. We seem to only play on the mountaintop, and we schedule our play time. In my observation of children, I am finding that play is anything that helps us celebrate the love we feel. Play is not an escape. It is a response to what is in our hearts.

Are you feeling secure enough to just go and play today? Go ahead, go back into the other room and check to see if Dad is still there. Then, secure in His love, go and play like the little child you are. Let the love flow outward, because you couldn’t contain it even if you tried.

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