Monday, July 19, 2010

Love Never Fails!

I have a sign my friend Jenni painted for me that hangs in our living room. The message is simple, yet profoundly difficult: Love never fails, words from 1 Corinthians 13, the well-known love chapter in the Bible.

I'm more keenly aware of the meaning as Randy and I celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary next Sunday! How this is even possible is such a miracle of God's grace, one we certainly didn't do anything to deserve.

Forty years ago, we started out with stars in our eyes and as much love as we could hold in our hearts at age nineteen. Nineteen--looking back through the lens of being older and wiser, I wonder how anyone could be mature enough at that age to take on the responsibilities of being husband and wife. When we stood at the altar in front of a church filled with friends and family on that steamy July afternoon, we had no idea of what real love is all about. We expected everything to be rosy, but what about the challenges of living with adversity and disappointment? We didn't have a clue. 

Our love was framed by contemporary culture and a flimsy notion made popular by a1970s novel-turned-movie: Love means never having to say you're sorry. We quickly learned we had to say sorry a lot.

Our love certainly failed many times. Over and over, more times than I can count. When a marriage becomes difficult, it's much easier to look at your partner and see everything that's wrong. I did. If only he...became my focus, and I launched a campaign to change him, instead of looking at myself. What is it I need to change? Lord, help me look at my heart, I began to pray. I found this to be an incredibly difficult and painful process, but necessary if I was to learn how to love someone with God's kind of love, love that never fails.

When I think of the never-failing capacity of love, it's clear that only God's love never fails. His love in and through us gives us courage to hang in there when we think there's no hope, to believe beyond any doubt that God is at work in our lives. And that makes all the difference. I used to think nothing would ever change in my marriage, that I'd feel short-changed and resentful because I was married to a man who couldn't love himself, much less someone else.

That's when the never-failing part of God's love shows up. Just when you think you've got the situation figured out, Jesus Christ, God incarnate, comes on the scene and changes everything--especially people's hearts, and then, nothing is ever the same. Even if only one person in a marriage allows the Lord to change her heart,and becomes the one who extends God's never-failing love to her spouse, the dynamics in their relationship will be different. That's a guarantee!

If you're wondering how you'll last for the next months or even weeks in your marriage, if you think there's no hope for a decades-long anniversary celebration some day, think again...of a love that never fails, a love that transforms hearts and lives. It happens--joyfully, surprisingly, miraculously!

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