It has been quite a long time since I wrote anything even approaching a love letter. These days, my bag is more complaining emails and sarcastic texts. But it’s not a skill I plan to lose. So, today, I want to flex my writing arm in tribute to love: love so perfect and so immeasurable that I think, folks, we’ve got to give it a capital ‘l’.
I could tell you about how I met my husband. It would write itself, a blog about the best man I ever knew. And I could reminisce about how, weeks before he died, there were still flowers for me on Valentine’s Day.
But I have a better love story for you even than that. Oh, and, if you don’t know this other love of mine, you could be forgiven for thinking he’s a bit of a villain. After all, he brought myself and my husband together. He knew we’d be happy. In fact, he saw to it.
And then he split us up.
What a cruel, heartless thing to do. We weren’t old: I was in my late thirties, Donnie was in his early fifties. Our twelfth wedding anniversary was a few months away. Because of his work, we had already been denied a lot of time together. And then, it was over.
All because of Love.
That’s right. Because. Not in spite of love, not denying or ignoring love, but precisely because of it.
God so loved the world that he gave his only son. These are words as familiar as ‘I love you’ and they mean the same – only more so. The harrowing, hellish, suffering death of Jesus on that cross is God’s love letter to a broken world. Do you think it meant nothing to him, to be separated from his beloved, perfect Son, for my sin and for yours?
God IS love. He didn’t invent it or create it – he embodies and defines it. What is not patterned on him is not really love, but a pale imitation.
He gave us those three little words that mean so much, that changed the course of not one life but countless thousands forever:
‘It. Is. Finished.’
My heavenly Father’s love for me deserves a response. It is worthy of acknowledgment. Of all the love letters ever written, his is the only one that was designed to be shared. God wants me to pass it on. And I can do no more than to tell it to you in terms you’ll understand.
We’re human and, being human, we experience love – if we’re that fortunate – in its various forms. When you find happiness with a life partner, however, it brings a special kind of fulfilment. I had that with Donnie and he, I believe, felt the same.
So, you see, it was real love. The kind that used to make me think I could never live without him.
What stopped me from falling into an abyss of despair, then ? How can I look back on what I had and not feel bitter that it has been taken away?
I must be an amazing person, no?
No. Those who know me are scratching their heads, going, ‘no, that’s definitely not it’ – and they’re right.
It’s that all this is done in love. Real love. God gave his only, perfect son for me. Does it seem likely he would do anything to gratuitously hurt a person he loves that much? Of course not; God is love.
A life lived in Christ is a life of love. Even though it may seem that he is inflicting pain, in fact, it is the very opposite. I would not willingly sacrifice the things or the people that he would have me give up, and so, in love, he gently removes them himself.
I love the Lord because he first loved me. And he has gone on loving me. God’s love is not the fragile emotion that we humans sometimes share – it is active, and it follows a set trajectory which ends in perfection. He doesn’t waver, or doubt, or forsake.
So, don’t pity me for my loss: envy me so much for my gain that you do everything you can to secure that love for yourself.
With God, every day is a celebration of real love.