He had been planning it for weeks. This was going to be a very special night with his bride and he wanted everything to be perfect. He would prepare the main course himself. Careful to fix her favorite dish the way she would do it. He would walk out to the orchard and find just the right apple for her and then he would drive to the market and choose the best of the fruit and vegetables that she liked. Of course, on the way he would stop by to see the florist and look for something special to accent the romantic flare of the evening.  It all had to be a secret, though. He would surprise her by showing up at her place and they would have a night to remember!

The big day arrived. He began early in the morning working in the kitchen. Throughout the day he shuffled through photo’s, selecting the ones of places they had been together and of people you were very important to her. As he packed the picnic baskets, he dropped in a few extras. Fingernail polish, a hair brush, a small mirror and her favorite lotion. Pleased with all he had prepared for his bride, he knelt and prayed these words,”Dear Lord, thank you for this wonderful woman You have given me. I don’t deserve her or her love, but I am honored to be the one she has chosen to spend the rest of her life with. Amen.”

He arrived at her home and as he entered, baskets in hand, she acted as though it was nothing special, but he knew that inside she was delighted he was there. He proudly showed her everything that he had prepared for her. After dinner he pulled out the photos and held them up, one by one. When he came to special one, he laughed and said, ” Oh honey! Remember this? Wasn’t that the best time.” He reached over and held her hand as he came across a photo of someone whom she had loved very much. He quietly laid the photos aside, then in a determined but loving voice said to her,”Now, I’m gonna  do something for you that you like to do for yourself. Don’t say a word ’cause you can’t change my mind on this.” She was silent as he poured warm water into a bowl and began washing her hands and then her feet. Then gently he began painting her nails, first her fingers and then her toes. Bringing out the hairbrush, showing some emotion, he spoke softly,” I can’t do this as well as you, but don’t try to stop me.” After a few minutes he held up the mirror. Sounding a little surprised at his accomplishment, he said,” Not bad, huh? You are so beautiful!” Without another word, he finished by rubbing her arms and legs with lotion. After a few minutes of silent adoration, he read a poem he had written to express his love for her and then he kissed her goodnight.

As he was leaving the home, one of the night staff stopped and asked,”Mr. Allen, did your wife wake up tonight?” Trying hard to hide his disappointment, he hesitated briefly and then replied,”No… But I think she knew it was our anniversary. Take good care of my bride. I’m coming back for her!”…

I Corinthians, chapter 13, speaks of a love that is foreign to much of the world. It’s a love that gives itself away not expecting to receive any rewards. It’s a love that waits as long as it takes to receive a response and if the response never comes, it still loves. It’s a love that does not demand recognition. It’s a love that gives freely and is not contingent upon whether love is given back in the same measure. It’s a love that dances and sings when it discovers new opportunities to express itself . It’s a love that cuts the threads of selfishness so it’s heart can open up. It’s a love that does not give up. It’s a love that does not write down the faults of others and broadcast them about. It’s a love that refuses to become furious  when it doesn’t get it’s way. It’s a love that celebrates truth and light and will not allow it’s purpose to be compromised by the darkness. It’s a love you can count on when all other love leaves you forlorn. It’s a love that can break through barriers, tear down walls and at the same time be as gentle and tender as a mother with a newborn baby. It will not wait for a convenient time but will express itself deliberately even when it is unpopular to do so. It is a love that can awaken feelings that lie in slumber.  It is a love that will always see the beauty in you and declare your value in the face of a million votes cast against you! It is a love that will cross a raging sea in the darkest night just to reach you. It is a love that will climb up onto a cross to suffer and then breathe it’s last breath, just for you.

….. A heavy fog was setting in as he drove home.  By the time he reached his house he was feeling the effects of a full day. After brewing a cup of hot tea, he sat down with his devotion book and Bible. His dog wasted no time in finding a comfy spot on his lap. He began reading the devotion for the day, but he could not get the love chapter out of his mind, so he turned to I Corinthians ch. 13 instead. He read out loud. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking.” Before he could go any further, he paused for a prayer. “My God,  how much I have to learn about love. And I only have a lifetime in which to do it. Lord, please teach me to love others as You have loved me. Amen.”  He went on reading,”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.”….

The Bible is clear. Love must accompany all that we do. Otherwise it is meaningless. This section of scripture ends with a reminder to us that these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. As believers, one day we will see the object of our faith. All of our hopes will become reality. But love will go on and on and on without end. The love of God is and always will be the reason for our very existence.  I guess the man in our story is right. We only  have a lifetime to learn how to love.

…. He awoke the next morning ready for a new day. He quickly checked the calender. ” Ahah!” He exclaimed. “Just what I thought. Twenty seven days until my brides birthday! I’ve got lots of planning to do. And then there is Valentines day. Oh, we are going to have so much fun!” Just then the phone rang. A woman on the other end spoke softly but with excitement in her voice, “Good morning Mr. Allen. I wanted to let you know that your wife is awake this morning and she is asking for you!” She went on, sounding somewhat puzzled.” And she is saying something about her fingernails and her hair?” Before the woman could finish, Mr. Allen said,”I’ll be right there! Thank you for calling me!”

For certain, the love spoken of here and that Jesus exemplified is not always easy for us to express and put into practice. But when we hold that kind of love up before us as a model and fix our eyes upon it as a goal for our daily lives, can life be anything but exciting, promising and rewarding?

Enjoy loving!