“Love never fails.” (1Corinthians 13:8a)
Today is my 33rd Wedding Anniversary. I must say… the years have flown by (which must mean that I am having fun!).
It helps being married to an amazing woman. She is the purest soul I have ever met. The most caring, giving, encouraging person I know. She lives to serve. Seeks to make everyone around her feel important and special. And she doesn’t have a clue just how wonderful she really is.
As with any relationship, there have been some difficult times – and some challenges along the way…
…but those times have only deepened our reliance on God, and each other, and our friendship with each other (and, yes, that is still vital).
Since I have been married for 33 years, I have children who are becoming adults and “teaming up” with their own life-partners. They are “falling in love” and setting their course to get married… and build families of their own.
As I look at their lives, I flash back to when I was their age. It gets a little scary.
The worst thing about young adulthood is that you think you are smarter than you really are – and not nearly as qualified to be an excellent spouse (or parent) than you might imagine. I speak from experience… I was clueless to how clueless I really was.
And one of the things I knew so little about (that I thought I did!) was love.
I thought about love. Wanted love. Read about love. Talked about love. Even wrote about love. But I didn’t really know about love.
Love is not something you can “follow the right instructions” or “do all the right steps” and be successful at doing. Love requires patience, practice, and perseverance. And just when you think you have learned how to love, you realize you haven’t really arrived anywhere. That’s because love is a continual journey, a continual commitment, a continual test of whether you will choose to give of yourself… even when it would be much easier not to.
Love isn’t really love without the test of time. It takes time for love to grow, mature, become more true in us. Love has to meet the challenge of choice to keep on growing. And at any point along the way, we can end its growth simply by choosing a more self-serving path. The opposite (and death knell) of love is not hate… it is always selfishness.
Love is the most difficult thing for a man to do (which may be why men are commanded, by God, to “love their wives”). It is never easy for us to willfully seek to meet every need of our wives (spiritual, emotional, psychological, physical) – but it is an essential thing for us to do. Scripture tells us that love (in a marriage relationship) is meant as a living lesson in how Christ loves us. Husbands are never more like Jesus than when we are living to seek to provide for our wife’s every need. We are always “on the give” – just as Jesus came and demonstrated for us.
I have learned that the greatest counsel about loving is found in the Bible.
The apostle Paul was inspired to write:
Truer words were never uttered – and a more accurate description never penned.
That’s because they come from the Heart of God… to instruct our hearts – to use as a barometer to determine if our efforts at loving are genuine.
Love, indeed, is the greatest thing (1Cor. 13:13) – but it is only that greatest thing within those who willingly live their lives continually giving of themselves to the object of their love.
Oh, and by the way… that is how God loves us!