Agape Equals Fierce

 
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I was first introduced to the word agape in the late nineties.  I was a Sales Manager in the Hotel industry and worked with the religious market. Ironically, I had a client called Agape Church.  Back then I was living on my own and working eighty hours a week.  I loved my job and it was clear what my gifts were.  On the weekends, I had the privilege of assisting conference services in tending to the needs of the religious groups I had booked.  I was not a church-goer then.  Who had the time?  But from Friday through Sunday, our hotel became a church.  People checked in and worshiped in our banquet space.  They were lovely people.  I craved being in their presence.  I looked forward to my weekends with them.  They prayed for me.  These “agape” people - they were my friends.

As time went on, I was offered more lucrative positions.  As a result, I had to let go of my “church groups” and work with other market segments.  That’s when I felt a deep unrest.  I left the industry after I got married because I was feeling burnt out and knew long term, this lifestyle wasn’t going to work for my family.  The pang in my spirit got louder, but I didn’t know what it was.  I also felt I was losing touch with what my gifts actually were.  Fast-forward a few years and two kids later and I got an invite to HOPE’s MOPS group.  Being a new stay at home mom, I gladly joined.  I needed companionship, camaraderie and was hoping to fill whatever void I was experiencing.  At the time, I did not know HOPE was a church or that MOPS was a Christian group.

One of our MOPS Mentor Moms invited me to attend a service.  It was a different experience than what I was used to, but it vaguely resembled something familiar.  I kept coming back because I felt safe and welcome and this was becoming my “place.”  I remember attending a service with my MOPS friends and Pastor Jeff asked, “what are your gifts?”  I remember saying – “I don’t have any.”  Wow.  How sad.  God didn’t design us that way.  I asked God to tell me what I was searching for and why I was so lost.

God showed me fierce love in 3D with surround sound.  As a result of MOPs, I joined the Wednesday Women’s Bible Study.  THIS was home.  THIS was what I missed from my church friends.  Not only did these ladies speak about the love of Christ, they exuded it!  They cared for others in a way that was selfless, humble and pure.  It resembled those glimpses I received in my twenties when I got to rest in Jesus’ presence for just a bit.  It reminded me of the days my work became my church.

God was pursuing me back then, he was communicating with my spirit.  He offered me a “peace that surpasses all understanding” in a way that I couldn’t even imagine.  God knew where my path would take me.  Agape is a love that only God can have for us.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 ESV)

Seven years later, I am aware of what my gifts and passions are.  They all revolve around people.  I love helping, serving and caring for people.  I always have.  I am blessed to do life with HOPE’s Care Team and my Wednesday Women Sisters.  They personify Christ.  They live out his teaching s through their actions.  Agape is an action.  It’s an action through the love of Christ.  I have seen our friends at HOPE do amazing, selfless things and it makes me want to be a better person.

If you haven’t taken Pathways, Passions and Gifts small group, I urge you to give it a try.  It helped me figure out so much of what I just shared.  It’s a great tool, taught in a beautiful way by a person with the gift of teaching – for the sake of others. 

 

-       Erica DePalma

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