These days the WGA staff are getting more opportunities to participate in conversations with pastors and leaders who are grappling with how to love people well, especially those who are lgbtq+, in the context of today’s culture.  The question is a constant drum beat of the hearts of fathers and mothers of people questioning their sexual and gender identities.

I am never satisfied with my answer—though extremely encouraged that the question is asked, and wrestled with, in serious and thoughtful conversations—and I am increasingly convinced that we must persevere in conversation and prayer together over just this issue—how to love as God loves.

“Lord, please….

show us how to be grace-full and speak Your truth

in Your timing and in Your way.

It seems impossible to live out the standard to which we are called.

—the truth in love, grace and truth—

show us how to live it.”

But even when just the right answer to this question continually escapes me, I keep praying and keep trying to live it out.  As I said yesterday in a gathering of pastors and leaders, “Loving people in truth, speaking truth in love, (100% grace, 100% truth, no compromise), we know is impossible to achieve perfectly, but I wouldn’t trade anything for the blessings experienced in the trying.”

In a favorite song by Steve Green, People Need the Lord, one verse captures the dilemma and the urgency:

“We are called to take His light
To a world where wrong seems right
What could be too great a cost
For sharing life with one who’s lost?”

In our world where wrong seems right, I believe the greatest need is the love of God, manifested in His people who will follow Jesus together, learn and grow up in Him together, coming into unity, and taking that experience of community into the world desperate to belong somewhere real, somewhere they can find the hope and a future promised in Scripture. (Jeremiah 29:11)

One final attempt to offer an answer:

When we move toward people with the intent to love them as Jesus does, when that action is taken prayerfully and with humility, (knowing we need to be loved like that just as much as they do), then we can count on the principle we find in the experience of thousands being fed with five loaves and two fish. (Mark 6:30)  One of my most frequent prayers in the face of the need of five thousand, “Lord, I have so little to offer; I have but these few minutes, just a drop in the bucket of the need; the loaves and fish of my supply is meager.  Here they are, Lord; please take what I have and multiply it to meet the need of the moment.”

Jesus in us loves people well; I take comfort and assurance in this promise.

Mary Heathman

Mary Heathman

Founding Director

Mary is one of the founders of Where Grace Abounds and served as Executive Director from its inception on July, 1986 through March 31st, 2007.  She speaks and teaches at churches and conferences across the country. She has also served on several boards of non-profit organizations, is a conference speaker on a variety of topics that include: Intimacy with God, Healthy Sexuality, and leadership development.  Currently serving in leadership in her denomination, Mary’s favorite ministry roles are discipleship counseling, group facilitation, and leadership development.

Mary often characterizes herself as “a seeker of Truth” and has a long-standing fascination with human behavior and motivation.  Her education consists of lay and discipleship counseling, independent study about the integration of psychology and theology, counseling and human sexuality. She also holds a BS in Human Services and an MA in Psychology from Regis University.

Mary attends a Friends (Quaker) Church.

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