My dear companions,
A few years ago, I looked pretty much the same as I do right now.
My heart, though, looked a whole lot different.
This story goes back even further, however. At a time in my infant years, I learned a word — a very special word at that. It is called love. I did not understand the meaning of this word at the time, nor the significant weight it carries. Each night I heard it, always paired with a gentle kiss on the cheek and a tuck into a blanket with my furry stuffed friends. It came and went like the sun and the moon and the stars. I felt a certain safety with it, but only because I knew it would keep coming back and ringing in my ears. There was something very sweet about the word, but I did not know it yet. I returned the word anyways - simply, plainly, and heartlessly.
I grew a little older and began to hear the word more frequently. The word I once heard so routinely began to ring slightly different in my ears. What I had heard as a word of security began to transform into a word far from that. It was confusing, general, and sometimes even unsettling. The four letter word was used as lightly as “goodbye,” seeming to carry no more weight than an empty voice. It was simply a sound, and I still did not understand its tune.
There were only small increments of time between hearing the word spoken, that I would hear its speaker taking it back. It became a word that was signed and traded, but not lived. It rested between pen and paper or routine greetings. I then began to question if the word really was at all like the sun and the moon and the stars. For while it came casually in routine, it shined no light at all. And often times, it hid in the night sky. I heard it traded frequently when the sun was shining, but when the sun went down, the word as well, disappeared.
There then came a time when I was introduced to the word in a different form. At first, it seemed to be delightful and more significant than ever before. It had a definition that seemed so promising. It was filled with passion, infatuation, and affection. Little did I know, however, this so-called form of love was the same masked thief of joy that would mislead and abandon my soul. It was in the peak of my immaturity and naivety when this “definition” of love replaced my confusion. Society dug the hole of depravity right in front of my eyes, and I walked right on in.
Down in the pit, still slightly naive, I became trapped in superficial quotes telling me what love is. The pit became a boundary, limiting me to see nothing beyond the lies that equated lust with love. I became more vulnerable than who I was in the infant stage. Wandering and lost, I clung to one who welcomed me in, despite the discomfort it brought. I was told all was well every time something was taken away from me, but all was not. I became blind and numb to the thief piercing my heart.
It was then, at the bottom of the pit, where I was shown what love truly is. I was rescued from my depravity by the merciful Savior and Shepherd who was calling my name. He opened my eyes to see that this label the world had put on love is really a word called hate. It is self-serving, deceiving, weak, and unsteady. It seeks to be pleased and to feed the lies of the heart. Its mission is to destruct.
He then introduced me to love — l-o-v-e.
Love is sacrificial and selfless. It is the light that shines in the darkness. It welcomes the undeserving and seeks out the lost. It grows and multiplies. It freely carries burdens. It is constant and alive. It sustains, builds, uplifts, and protects. It heals and mends. It remains when the sun goes down and does not hide from the needy.
Love, my dear friends, is the Son of God bearing our burdens by dying on the cross for our sins, and it's a beautiful thing.