1 Corinthians 13 (The Message)
The Way of Love
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 bankrupt without love.
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. When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good. 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.
If you didn’t know already by the number of florist’s ads on the television and Internet, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. I am uneasy about a holiday that professes to measure how deeply you are loved by gifts received on one day. Whether you are single with no sweetheart or in a relationship with high expectations for romance, the odds are high the day will not unfold the way the television ads proclaim. I am blessed to have a valentine. If I didn’t, I think I might have to hide in bed all day to ignore the hoopla. But, if I am not careful, even my valentine will fail to meet my standards. Some men might be mind readers, but mine is not one and it is only fair to him that I don’t play that game. Today, he bravely accompanied me to an outdoor arts and crafts show. Though the wind coming off the river was freezing, we walked around looking at things.
I saw a pretty silver bracelet that said, “I love you.” Though I pointed it out, husband just nodded and walked right on by. I had a choice. I could wait for him to romantically place that bracelet upon my wrist and if he didn’t, become disappointed or angry or I could cut him some slack and bluntly say, “This would make a nice Valentine’s Day present.” Even though his brain was frozen like a popsicle from the cold, I could tell from his face, it was an “Oh, yeah” moment as he pulled out his wallet and bought it for me. Later, he spotted a flower vendor where I could sense his relief. This he knew. Flowers equal valentines. I surprised him by choosing a single daisy instead of roses. Magnanimously, he purchased three. I guess he didn’t want to appear cheap!
Sometimes, we can control our disappointments by manipulating things, but sometimes, disappointments hit us so hard that they blindside us completely. Youngest son took the fire exam today and did not pass. He missed by one point. He is devastated. I know how he feels. I thought I would vomit when he told me. But, unlike asking for one daisy and getting three, this is a time when our true character and beliefs are exposed. What will we do with disappointment when it is so deep and hard that it seems nothing will sooth it? Unlike when he was a baby and I could pull him into my lap and kiss away his pain, youngest son has some choices to make about where he will go from here. As for me, I look at my bracelet and think, “Even more than my husband’s love is God’s love, not just for me, but youngest son as well.” We will have to choose to trust that God will use even this disappointment for his good. Because it is in the hardest times that real faith shines brighter than any silver bracelet saying “I love you.”
PS After reading through this post again, I thought I had better clarify. First, I would not have asked my husband for something for Valentine’s Day, but he asked me what to get. So, I wasn’t being greedy and demanding, only answering his question. I also gave him something for Valentine’s that he wanted. And I am not disappointed in my son for failing the test. He did his best and that is all we ask of him. I am disappointed in the circumstances and the fact that there will not be an opportunity for another year for him to apply in our county as they only test once a year. He is currently rethinking his career path and considering college which he had set aside hoping he would get a firefighter job.