Some say it’s all we need. It’s been called a “many-splendoured thing.” Who would deny that this crazy little thing called love has been the source of more inspiration (and exasperation) than any other human emotion. Singers have forever crooned about it, poets and bards have tried their hand at articulating it, nations have even gone to war over it.
Yet, in spite of the grandeur of so many endeavours and expressions performed in the name of Love, for many, this chief of emotions never grows beyond the emotional level and remains, at best, only a feeling. And while early on, feelings and emotions can fuel so much, eventually relationships can run out of steam when emotions cool, and feelings begin to change. And when a love that is rooted only in emotion begins to die, it can become a many-splintered thing, far from what it could have been; far from what it was intended to be.
A story is told of an old, married couple, Ma and Pa, who found themselves winding down one evening in their respective easy chairs, when Ma turned to Pa rather suddenly and asked, “Pa, Why is is that you never tell me that you love me?” Pa thought about it for a moment and replied, “Ma, I told you that I loved you when we got married. If anything changes, I’ll let you know!”
I hope that’s not how it is in your relationship!
This May, my wife and I will celebrate out 17th year together. I won’t pretend that we’ve been married for 60 years, but thankfully we have learned a few things along the way in our journey together. I don’t think of myself as any kind of expert, but if I may, it seems to me that love is not so much a thing to be possessed, but rather a lifestyle to be lived, based on a choice that is made. In other words, love is a verb. To draw from a well-known source, love is, among other things, patient, kind, protective, trusting, hopeful, enduring and unfailing (1 Cor. 13); all words that describe something that is active, expressive, giving, and in most respects others-centered. Love is something that, while wonderful to be spoken of, doesn’t rely upon words in order to be known.
I don’t hesitate to point to the Lord as the great example of this – of love in action. He is the incarnation of the God who “so loved the world that He gave…” I find it fascinating, and even convicting that of all that is written of Jesus in the New Testament, we have no record of His having told His disciples that He loved them. I don’t know that He didn’t at some point, but noticeably absent in Scripture is any scene where He meets with His closest followers to say…”Mathew, I love you. John, I love you. Peter, I love you. Judas, well….” Never-the-less, among his parting admonitions, Jesus could encouraged them to love one another as He had loved them (John 13:34). Whether He ever actually told them straightforwardly or not, clearly Jesus had demonstrated His love for them to the extent that they were fully aware of it, and now had a model to employ in their own relationships.
Now that might sound a little academic in this season of flowers, candy and romance, but I wonder if it really is. After all, real love isn’t confined to the emotion of a moment. Rather, by its others-centered nature, it has the potential to flower into the adventure of a lifetime Actually, if we loved the way Jesus taught and exampled, there would be far too much love to squeeze into one day-a-year. If Pa had been like this, Ma wouldn’t have had to ask!
We all need love, true love, love that never leaves or forsakes. Love that lasts forever. We need God’s love.
…not that you shouldn’t still bring home some flowers & candy!
This article appeared in the February 2011 issue of the Magnolia Magazine