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Bankrupt Without Love

My mom lives on the Oregon coast, in close proximity to Newport, Oregon.

Newport is home to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, The Wax Works, the Hatfield Marine Science Center, Beverley Beach State Park, Newport’s Historic Bayfront, the original location for Mo’s Seafood & Chowder…all places I have visited, more than once.

Newport also features Oregon’s tallest lighthouse, The Burrows House, and The Pacific Maritime Heritage Center. You can visit Cape Foulweather or the Devil’s Punchbowl; take a Marine Discovery Tour or go whale watching in the winter. Pull off at Seal Rock, hike the Siuslaw National Forest, or visit the ever-popular Nye Beach. There is much to do in Newport.

But that is not what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about a single road. A quiet, two-lane road, for most of its path.

If I said, “Route 66”, what comes to mind? Perhaps a little tune? Maybe a memory? Route 66 is famous! But what about Route 20? It doesn’t have the same ring, but it is a big deal!

This road runs from the west coast to the east coast, taking you through Yellowstone National Park and passing through several large cities including Cleveland and Chicago. In all it passes through 12 states between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It is the Historic U.S. Route 20, and it runs between Newport, Oregon and Boston, Massachusetts.

It was a Thursday in early December 2016, when Massachusetts highway officials installed a mileage sign on the eastern end of the road in Boston's Kenmore Square. It informs motorists that Newport, Oregon, is a mere 3,365 miles away on Route 20 westbound. A similar sign went up in Newport marking the same distance to Boston. At a Boston ceremony, Massachusetts Highway Administrator Thomas Tinlin says, "There are many things that divide our country, but Route 20 is one thing that connects us."

By the way, Route 20 is not considered an interstate, because it is not a four-lane highway. That means it is not the longest interstate highway in America. That distinction belongs to I-90, which goes from Boston to Seattle and runs parallel to Route 20 across most of the country.

I thought this story was fascinating! But what really caught my attention was the quote by the highway admin:

"There are many things that divide our country, but Route 20 is one thing that connects us."

I mean, it sounds nice in theory. But it’s just a ribbon of asphalt. It does not mend broken hearts; it does not heal relationships; it does not bring us closer together or connect us in the way that truly matters. It does not connect us to heaven. It’s just a road.

However, there is something, guaranteed, to do all of that and more. His name is Jesus, the Christ. And He told us what to do to make those connections. Love one another!

Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34 ESV

Love should be easy, right? But sometimes it feels like the person we love is on the opposite side of where we are. As though we are on the west coast, and they are on the east coast and there is simply no reaching them. But there is great news!

In just the way Route 20 connects the west coast with the east coast, Jesus connects us with each other; Jesus is standing in the gap. And He left specific instructions.

Be patient and overlook offenses.

“A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11 NIV

Speak softly, not harshly.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1 NIV

Keep your temper in-check.

“A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.” Proverbs 15:18 NIV

Let it go! Take it to God. Give it to Jesus!

When I was a teen, a friend asked another friend, “Do you kiss your mama with that mouth?” In other words, their language was offensive. We are warned about that too. Get rid of it.

“But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” Colossians 3:8 NIV

Do not let anger rule.

James wrote “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20 NIV

I don’t know about you, but I want to produce the righteousness God desires in me.

Proverbs 15:18 tells us a hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.

If we followed the law of love, there would not be enormous gaps in our relationships. If we treated everyone with kindness and respect, regardless of if we knew the intimate details of their situation, if we could love without decision, then and only then, would we be fulfilling the law of love.

We can be great people, but if do not love, we are nothing, we have nothing, we get nothing. We are bankrupt.

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m

Love never gives up.

Love cares more for others than for self.

Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.

Love doesn’t strut,

Doesn’t have a swelled head,

Doesn’t force itself on others,

Isn’t always “me first,”

Doesn’t fly off the handle,

Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,

Doesn’t revel when others grovel,

Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

Puts up with anything,

Trusts God always,

Always looks for the best,

Never looks back,

But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies.

Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled…

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation:

Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.” 1 Corinthians 13 - The Message Bible

by Jeanette Stark – Monday, December 12, 2022

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