Hope anchors the soul.
Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor 13:13
Paul is trying to help his readers see the deepest nature of God:
God is love | love is God.
My kids have been asking me how God created them, and I say:
“You were made with and out of love.”
Because God is in all things and through all things, love is present everywhere, always. Whether we see it or not, we have love in us and through us. It's always within our reach (that's the grandest miracle of all). When God made you, he made you out of love, and love is in you.
When you strip it all back – fame, fortune, reputation, success, achievement, poverty, disease, failure, houses, things, stuff, governments, wars, history, heroes, prisons, criminals… the only thing left to see will be the love that has been given and the love that has been received.
1 John 4:8-12 says “…God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
Every time we love, receive love and choose love, we are acknowledging and reflecting God, whether we know or not. (I believe people bump into God all the time without realizing it.) It’s our love - not our stuff or our labels or our positions - that defines us and leaves an eternal groove upon the earth.
Love is the most courageous thing you will ever engage in.
Sometimes it's easy. Sometimes it's misplaced, sometimes it's heartbreaking and challenging and impossible. It can seem easier to focus on anything else than putting our energy into loving our partners, our parents, our children, our friends, the broken, strangers, enemies…
When all is said and done, when we stand on the other side of eternity, and the fog clears, and we can see clearly, I bet we’ll be astonished at how united and connected we all are. We'll be able to see the deep and resounding effect our words and actions have had on others. We’ll see in full the truth that God (divine and eternal love) was threaded through us all along, even through those we thought couldn’t possibly be close. Jesus said in Matthew 25, “When you cared for one of the least important of these my little ones, my true brothers, and sisters, you demonstrated love for me.”
Love is our highest calling and most enduring legacy. It's like water; it dribbles and leaks and pours into nooks and crannies that haven't seen light for years if we let it flow.
Get right in the middle and mess and beauty of life with those around you. It’s this work that counts beyond all else.
“The love for equals is a human thing – of friend for friend, brother for brother. It is to love what is loving and lovely. The world smiles. The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing – the love for those who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely. This is compassion, and it touches the heart of the world. The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing – to love those who succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, of the black man for the white man. The world is always bewildered by its saints. And then there is the love for the enemy – love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain. The tortured's love for the torturer. This is God's love. It conquers the world.” Frederick Buechner.