I hear the word love used in lots of ways these days. It has become a way of describing just about everything we really like… a lot. It’s my perception that women use the word love more often and in more ways than men. Often about a hair style, nails or a book or movie. Men usually blurt it out at the end of a phone conversation or because we think it’s required to keep a relationship going. Sometimes we say ”I love you” to make up for a lot of stupid things we’ve done or said. Generally it is a truncated, barely recognizable, low volume utterance “luvya” right before hanging up or dashing out the door. So, what exactly is love besides an overused word?
I worked in a ministry for nearly 20 years coordinating home repairs for low income families done “Free in the name of Jesus”. I didn’t grow up in the church and had no deep knowledge of the Bible but serving God in this way brought me closer to Him and I “grew” in my understanding of His “kind” of love. Before a project started, there were meetings with the home owner and family. It became second nature for me to express, without hesitation that Jesus loved them. These works sometimes involved hundreds of volunteers and friends and neighbors gathered along with many churches to do these works and celebrate God’s love. There was a moment that I can only describe as Jesus wrapping His arms around me and saying “this is what I prepared you for”. Then another moment arrived.
My wife of 28 years decided to leave and start a new relationship/life. Over a period of months, we worked out the divorce. There was a lot of forgiveness, grace and growth in faith for both of us. Our three grown children worked through it, but the pain was nearly unbearable for me. As I reflected on our relationship, I realized that she had never told me she loved me, and I could not remember a time when I had felt love for her. That’s when I began to doubt that I had ever been loved and more devastating, the thought that I had never loved.
I found myself reading the Bible more, cover to cover. Even the hard (boring) parts took on new meaning. I started to “see” Love throughout the Old Testament and focused in on Jesus’ “love” in the New. In the original Greek translation, the words Agape and Aeros are used to describe the difference between the way God loves and the way we creatures love (holy and natural). I think there are three other Greek words describing “kinds” of love. All these definitions/descriptions are something we can process with our minds, but it takes more to put it in our hearts and much more to authentically share it with others.
I reached a point in my brokenness that I fell to my knees and through tears prayed “God teach me to love”. That was only a few months ago. The first thing He sent me were friends and family. Through conversation with them, I remembered my parents love for me and all the times Jesus brought me out of darkness. Then I was given a book by A.W. Tozer, “Knowledge of the Holy” and began to grasp that God is love… indefinable unlimited, a state of being. Then He gave me the words to a song that I wrote and sent to my daughter on her birthday I titled “Always”. Then He sent Bob Goff “Everybody Always”. Bob puts Jesus’ love in new light for me. Jesus says: Love God, neighbor and enemy… that’s everybody. Jesus knocked at my door for a long time before I let Him in. When I did, He came as love, truth and peace. I’m still striving to be love, and I trust the Spirit will guide me there and that gives me peace.