My son is off at camp. My husband will be home from work after midnight. I am home alone, reading a book that is moving me to tears.
It’s a collection of love stories. A crazy Australian writer spent some time on a busy Brisbane street with a typewriter and recorded stories that came walking his way.
Some were romantic and others were full of loss and longing. Their sharp pain blunted by long gone moments of joy and love.
The book is Love Stories by Trent Dalton. And it’s making me reflect on the nature of love tonight.
What is my love story?
I write about my husband and son a lot on this blog. They can fill my world sometimes. But it’s not difficult to remember a time without them. All those painful and lonely years. It makes me thankful to God for seeking me out and transforming me. For the many unexpected blessings in my life because of him — including my husband and son.
Well known verses from 1 Corinthians 13 start coming to mind.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.1 Corinthians 13:1-8 (NIV)
It’s a beautiful and terrifying list. Terrifying because I’m human and I fail. It’s beautiful because the love of the God who created me doesn’t.
What does love mean to me this quiet Wednesday evening?
Everything. It means everything.
My life will fall apart without love. It’s all encompassing. High as the heavens are to the earth. And wide as east is from west.
It’s there as I snore, curled up next to my husband on the couch. It’s there as I try not to yell at my son to study, or practise his cello. It even shows up at my work place as I see stories of transformed lives thanks to the care of thousands of people around the world.
I often call it God’s goodness.
But I think it might be his love for us.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16
Unlike my love, God’s love never fails. It takes him to the cross and impales him there. He endures hell so I don’t have to. He forgives me over and over until one day I’ll get it right.
Love is sitting with the broken. Not standing with the great.
The sentiment is stolen from New Zealand author, Sue Fitzmaurice, who said: “I’m not interested in whether you’ve stood with the great; I’m interested in whether you’ve sat with the broken.”
Broken. That was exactly where I was when God reached out to me. Stuck in pain that I didn’t know how to treat. Who knew a book on Buddhism and a casual question at work was the start of God’s goodness to me.
I started going to bible study. And then started to attend church regularly. It was there I was confronted with Jesus who came to seek the lost. He sat with sinners, restored the sick, preached repentance and forgiveness to all who would hear.
It was there I heard the story of the prodigal son in Luke’s gospel. And it was that story that sent me flying into God’s arms.
Eternal salvation was the offer, a shot at heaven, but coming to know and believe I was the recipient of that kind of love from the creator who made me, saved me in the here and now as well. He showed me the way to heal.
What I know now, that I didn’t back then, is that the love story really is about the running father. A father who waits and longs for his son to come home. Who sees his wayward son in the distance and starts pelting down the road to greet him.
At around 8pm the phone rings. It’s my husband. He usually checks in at this time. It’s the spare moment he has during his shift to eat his dinner before he heads back to work.
Love, it seems, is also the quick conversation snatched between breaks as one waits for dinner to heat up in the microwave.
And I am thankful.