Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Language of Love

   Our lives are bent and shaped by the desire for intimacy. This desire can lead us into places of great danger (also known as looking for love in all the wrong places) or conversely, this desire can lead us to places of redemption, restoration and ultimately fulfillment. I believe that this desire, this heart-cry for intimacy that unites mankind, is indeed heaven-sent. It is part and parcel of that God-shaped hole that the Lord created for Himself in the lives of His own. He has told us in no uncertain times that He is a jealous God and will have no other Gods before him, yet I continually stand amazed at the idols we assiduously substitute to assuage or diminish the emptiness that we feel.
   Yet while we wait for the new heavens and the new earth and for the kingdom of our God to be fully and completely established and apprehended as I believe it one day will be, I am thankful for the language of love that has, is, and will be, spoken into my life. Even though the gestures and words are usually rendered by mere mortals such as I, they carry within them the echoes of the Greater Love that has so captivated and captured my soul.

Here is a glimpse into some of the words, moments, or gestures that remind me of the deep deep love of the Father for His Beloved.
  • Do you want your name in the grits pot? My grandmother would go around each morning in the summer at the Big House before breakfast and ask us if we wanted our name in the grits pot. I never saw her write anything down so it was a marvel to me that she somehow made just the right amount so that each one of us could dip the ladle and enjoy a bowl of her never-lumpy and always-just-right grits. Is that not that the way love is? It sticks to your ribs and hits the spot of hunger that you did not even know you had. Having my name in her grits pot taught me this about the love of the Father in so many words:  I have remembered you, I have included you, I have not forgotten you, and I know just what you need before you even know it yourself.
  • A large white box of crushed sugar cookies and crumbled brownies surrounding a slightly dried out pound cake. When I was in college far away from home and suffering terribly from homesickness that appeared to have no end in sight and certainly seemed like a terminal illness at the time, a package would unexpectedly arrive from Zeb's Cakehouse in Opp, Alabama. There would be no card or note inside, but I immediately felt the touch of the time-worn hands that had packed that box for me. I would open the white flaps and hold it to my nose. It was the smell of love. It was the grandmother and grandfather who understood that a little remembrance of home would go a long way toward soothing a lonely heart. Their timing was always impeccable and was undoubtedly guided by a Master Hand. I remember also that the word would soon spread down the hall that I had received a package from Opp, and the friends would flock to my door to indulge themselves until every crumb had disappeared. So the box from Opp became not just a salve for my homesick heart, but also a gateway to building community in my dorm, my home away from home. 
  • A shared meal: twenty-eight years of ringing in the New Year with the same friends. The memory of these evenings strung together along the line of my life speaks volumes of the faithfulness of God, of continuity in the face of ever-changing lives and circumstances, of bonds that have, by the grace of God, stood, are standing, and will stand, the test of time. We have been witnesses together of the births of thirteen children, the celebration of nine marriages, and the welcoming of ten grandchildren into the world. We have grieved deeply together as one of us departed this life for the glory of heaven. Time is marching on. We have stood together on the mountain top and in the valley of the shadow. We have experienced triumph, disappointment, misunderstanding, success, and failure. We have laughed and we have cried. It has not always been easy, in fact, sometimes it has been downright hard. But community is one of the greatest gifts that is given to the Children of God. He did not leave us alone. He sent us the Comforter, and He calls us into relationship not just with Himself, but with one another. 
  • The words: Entreat me not to leave thee or to return from following after thee, for whither thou goest, I will go....I spoke these words to a handsome young dark-headed boy-man with a winsome smile nearly 36 years ago when I vowed before God and the witnesses gathered there to love, honor, cherish, and (gasp) obey this guy. I have faltered and failed miserably in loving this good man well, but we have been partners through thick and thin in this journey called life. No one on this earth can make me as mad more quickly than he, but there is no one on earth who understands my idiosyncrasies, forgives my failures, and makes me better like he does. Most days I would marry him all over again. He has been a faithful lover and companion and partner and friend. He is the father of our four children. Through the years (and probably even yesterday), we have had some royal battles and still carry the scars from them. Yet when the day is safely done and I am tucked up beside him in our antique double bed, I know that there is no where else on this earth that I would rather be...


  1. Love your post on love. And so timely that our study is about this topic as well!

  2. I am learning to read your posts with a tissue handy. It was as if you held my face in your hands and said "I'm going to share something invaluable" when you wrote, "Even though the gestures and words are usually rendered by mere mortals such as I, they carry within them the echoes of the Greater Love that has so captivated and captured my soul." Amen sister.


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