John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
John 15:12-13, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
I was going to write something else today, something that had been heavy on my heart, then at the last minute decided to write this. Hey, it’s my 48th anniversary today, so I figure I have a right! Besides, it may not be what you think.
I’ve known my wife over 50 years now. I met her in High School through her brother, a close friend of mine and the one who eventually led me to the Lord. But it didn’t start out that way. You see, I was a religious kid with a mind full of questions about God and the church (the church I was going too) and all the sacraments and the saints, so forth and so on. I met Ron, Sue’s brother one day in a study hall when he was talking to another kid about the “religion” this other kid was involved in.
Hey, here was someone else who loved to talk about “religion!” During a break from his conversation with this other young man I interjected myself with a “religious” question and quick to answer, Ron gave me a Scripture verse. I don’t even remember it now as over the next year I had so many questions and conversations with him. It was through this exchange that I was introduced to his sister. At the time (I was a late bloomer) I was just starting to get interested in girls in my class and his sister was a grade behind Ron and I.
As the year progressed in High School, his sister would show up when he had a free period and it was more than once I noticed her notebook with my name scrawled all over it. Of course I went to Ron and told him and he just advised me to just let things take its course. Of course it wasn’t until much, much later and AFTER High School that I found out he had been telling his sister that she had no business following after me as I wasn’t a Christian at that time!
Eventually though in my senior year, right before graduation and a couple of months before my 17th birthday, Ron gave me a Scripture that opened my eyes and changed my life; “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, . .” – 1 Timothy 2:3-5. It was verse 5 that truly stuck with me. After a couple of weeks, his church, a small Pentecostal Church of God, was having a special youth night and Ron invited me. That night after hearing the sermon from the guest preacher, I answered the altar call and gave my heart to the Lord. It was a night I will never forget. Things at home were not the best, I was just about ready to graduate High School and though my dad let me go to this other church one time, when I told him what happened and I wanted to go back, he blew up! I was born and raised in a church and that is the church I would go too. Sadly, my dad never attended that very church, for he left it to my step-mom to take care of our religious upbringing.
Anyway after a while, I actually started going out with Ron’s sister, though not before sitting in the little church with some of the other girls. I was NOT very bright at all back then. But I learned and grew. It was however a far different experience for me from the church I had grown up in and had actually been a fairly big part of. Needless to say, my beginnings in that little Pentecostal church were rocky and just after my seventeenth birthday I ended up moving in with another relative because my day made it impossible to go to church while living in “his” house. That was one of my first great “hurdles” in trying to live a Christian life.
I was very backward and introverted back then but I was going out with Ron’s sister pretty regularly and after a couple of years we got married. That in itself is another story and one that was also another “hurdle” in our/my Christian walk. But Sue truly loved me. She actually told me that back in High School the Lord had shown her that she was going to marry me!
Anyway, as I stated earlier, I came from a very different background altogether and though I loved Sue, I made newly married life a “pain” for her. (I’m being polite for my sensitive readers!). I was learning this time about the Bible and I was very keen on learning everything I could, but my background also did not prepare me for the onslaught the enemy would throw at anybody who is young and new in the Lord. For some reason, that was NOT a part of my early Christian teaching.
I will admit that I had a LOT of fitful starts and stops over the next few years, some might in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles today call it backsliding! Because the Bible tells us emphatically, “For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5a, I’d like to think that I was a spoiled petulant child of the Lords, rebelling because things didn’t go the way I thought they should or I liked. Whatever the term you use, the Lord never gave up on me and though I was disciplined and chastised, He ALWAYS forgave me; even and especially during a very bad time in my life when I got involved in sinfulness that shamed my family, church and friends. It was nothing to do with any kind of infidelity, but it was horrific for those who knew me.
It was not a good testimony of what Christianity was supposed to be an example of. Yet, and I have to repeat, YET, my wife never gave up on me and though the Lord used that to lead us elsewhere, (and she willingly followed) He led us to a place of total forgiveness AND mentorship under one of the best Pastors I have ever had the privilege to work with. It was there that I truly started to actually see, not just in an intellectual way, but in a truly spiritual way, the true love of the Lord as described in His Living Word!
As I was learning the spiritual significance of TRUE Love and forgiveness, the Lord was even then showing me the kind of love that my wife was demonstrating though at times there is no way she could have “FELT” it. She took our vows very seriously and I started to realize I had been the one neglecting to actually demonstrate true love towards her, because she was also the one, for the most part, that cared for the spiritual needs of our family. I had, as of yet, not taken my responsible place of Priesthood over our family.
Again, her true love for me came into play, for though it was hard (at times) to relinquish that responsibility I had burdened her with for so long, she did allow me to walk in that responsibility and she supported me all the way. I learned through all those times that we truly ARE One in the Lord and when He brings two people together, it is for their good and the good of the Body of Christ. People who have looked at our relationship in the past have not seen the support she has given me in making important decisions but they also have not seen the trust I have had in her leading of the Holy Spirit either. It has brought up some interesting discussions with our peers over the years!
Through all these learning times and steps we have taken to follow after the Lord with our whole being, it has truly created a oneness in us that is a shadow of what I am sure is to be a Oneness with the Lord between His Bride, the Church and Christ Jesus, the Bridegroom.
Most of those “hurdles” from the past don’t even phase us anymore and about the only things we have to comfort one another in, is our family and our health for we truly have become more One than most can imagine as our love, even to this day continues to grow and only because of our Love for the Lord has been first and foremost and has made it happen.
If you are fortunate enough to have a TRUE soul-mate like that, you too are then able to catch a glimpse, maybe an “iceberg’s glimpse,” but still a glimpse of what TRUE Agape with the Lord and with one another can actually be like.
The Lord did not create us in His likeness without the necessary abilities to be able to, at least in part, do the very things He asks and commands us to do. We CAN love one another because He DID first love us and imparted His Spirit into us that allows and enables us too, but besides the greatness of that alone, He also blesses us with experiences of ACTUAL love that are real and demonstrable to ourselves and to others!
When the time comes for the Lord to call me home to Him, it will be with at least a partial knowledge of what TRUE Agape is meant to be because of the Loving woman and blessing He gave me all those years ago in this life!
I told Sue earlier, the Lord must have seen something in me at a young age, as He does with all of His children, but knew that I needed someone who would stick by me, encourage me to follow the Lord, and then to allow me to do just that so that I could be the person that the Holy Spirit wants me to be! Love does that; Love HAS done that! She gave her life for me and I can’t love her enough in return! So it is with us and the Lord Jesus Christ!