On the same level time and time again?
Okay, so we made it past Valentine's Day - that "Hallmark" day when "lovers" everywhere exchange flowers, candy, cards, dinner dates, and jewelry. If you were alone on Valentine's Day, you were among a vast many who just didn't get into the hype of the day, either feeling very relieved you weren't or very depressed you were alone yet again. I am not very moved by this "holiday" anyway, so it really doesn't bother me - I don't get into all the hype. What I will focus on at this time of the year is how well I am personally doing revealing God's love to those I live with and serve on a daily basis. After all, there is no "holiday" to focus on these character traits - it is just expected every single day of our lives! For most of us, this thing called "love" is like one of those "match games" you see online these days where you have to align the right sequence of candies or jewels. There are little hidden bears or objects behind those colorful squares - waiting to be uncovered - reliant upon your skill and reasoning. If the hidden is to be uncovered, you must be very, very "calculated" in your moves. Sometimes I think we approach love in this same way - we take "calculated moves" hoping we will reveal what we are looking for, but making many a move which doesn't prove to uncover what it is we were imagining was underneath. Yep, love requires some "skill", but it isn't as "calculated" as some may think!
Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do. Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil. Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting. Love never fails! (I Corinthians 13:4-8 CEV)
To truly understand the "skill" of love, we have to turn to the one who exemplified love in the first place - Christ Jesus himself. To fully comprehend the "skill" we will come to rely upon to "uncover" the hidden in those we associate with, we need to study the "master" of love! My son observed me trying to complete a particularly "pesky" level in one of these games the other day - a level I had been on for a very long time! At times, it had been frustrating me. I just couldn't figure out how to get the last bear freed up. I would get all but one tiny piece of it exposed - then I'd run out of moves. Isn't this just how life goes at times? We think we have everything going so smoothly, all the pieces aligning, then all of a sudden, we realize we used up our last move!
Love isn't so much about the "calculated risks" we take, but about the person we allow to shine through us as we respond to the moves around us. I can move all those colorful objects in the game just so, but when other objects fall from above those, I cannot control what will come down the path! Life is kind of like that - we move one way, but when we don't always control what comes back our way when we do! This is where we need the "skill" of loving that we see repeatedly in examining the life of Christ. He was consistently kind and patient - even when ridiculed, spat upon, and nailed to the cross. He was not jealous of those who had more than he did, lived in better houses than his, or even had a bigger "church" than his! He didn't get all uppity when he knew the answers to the problems at hand. He also didn't push his way through or over others to get noticed.
I don't want us to think love is just something which we just "happen" to get right on occasion - like the falling colorful cubes in our game. Yep - there are some calculated risks we take - when we go out on the line for something we believe in or someone we care very much about. Yep - there are some hidden things in relationship which give us challenge after challenge to attempt to uncover. Yep - there are times when we will get to the point of thinking we will never get past the place where we find ourselves today. But...we can take a lesson from the one who has taken the risks, is able to uncover the hidden, and who knows the way out of the difficult places. Just as my son sits beside me on the couch, glancing over my shoulder as I plan my moves in the game with the colorful blocks, Christ comes alongside to show us the way to love each other. How is it my son knows what moves to make? He has already completed all those levels! How is it Christ can help us with this thing called "love" - he has already lived it out for us! Just sayin!