“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all thing. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13
As I laid wide awake in bed thinking last night I kept pondering about this relationship that I have with Christ and how often I call Him Daddy, but yet really think more of Him as a husband than a Father. So often in scripture God referred to Israel as His bride and wife and woman, and in the New Testament it even tells us that the Church is Christ’s bride. But how often do we think of ourselves as Christ’s bride? And I asked Him if I could write about being His bride. He said “Sure”. 🙂 I love Him! So, as I sat down to actually start writing this morning, I checked my Facebook homepage first… avoiding the inevitable question, “What am I going to write about today???” The second post down was a link to a photo that instantly caught my attention and a story that captured my heart.
The picture was of two marines guarding a flag-draped casket standing at the front of a barely lit church sanctuary the night before 2nd Lieutenant James J. Cathey’s funeral. Now that image alone is stunning, but that’s not what first caught my attention in the photo. It was the deceased soldier’s pregnant wife Katherine on an air mattress in front of the coffin getting ready to sleep next to her husband for the very last time. Just typing that puts tears in my eyes. The thought of the last night I sleep with my husband, never knowing if it’s the last time. The dedicated wife barely left her husband’s side from the time his body returned stateside until it was buried in the ground. She refused to leave him until the loved ones around her convinced her to sleep.
Cathey’s comrades thought of him as invincible, and never expected him to be the one to not make it out. Which just reminds me of another man, thought to be invincible and prepared to rule the known world. But His story didn’t end the way his friends expected it to either. No, Jesus’ death caused quite a stir as well. No one was expecting it, even though He had warned them all plainly several times, they all paid no heed to His prophecies. They just didn’t get it. And Jesus, just like Cathey, had a woman who refused to leave His side as well. She was the last one to leave the cross, and the first one to return to the tomb at the first chance she got. Mary Magdalene. She was so torn by the grief of her loss that He chose to appear to her first, in the garden, to ease her mourning and reassure her that He was just fine, alive, and very well indeed.
These grave-side stories are especially touching on this Veteran’s Day as I sit typing this on my couch watching our American flag waving patriotically in the breeze on our front porch. But I’m forced to ask more. I’m drawn to dig deeper. What’s the point of it all? Why does love like this matter? Why should we care? Because it’s what God has called us to. God is love and He has called us to be like Him in every way. He has called us to love one another deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Are you so desperately in love with the LORD that you’d refuse to leave His lifeless body just so you could lie next to Him just one more night? Do you love your spouse that much even? Love isn’t just a feeling, it’s a choice. One that we make every moment of every day. Love is an action, a verb, it’s a way of living. These days “love” has gotten so incredibly watered down that we’ll even say we “Love” that sign on the side of the road.
That’s not love. We’ve allowed our society to become too much a part of us, to warp us into thinking and saying that we love things that we don’t really love. As Christians, people should know that we follow Christ by the way that we treat them. By the way that we treat each other! Do you have an unquenchable love for the God you worship? How much are you willing to do for Him? How far will you follow Him? Step outside your comfort zone today, SHOW someone (maybe even your spouse) how much God loves them. Stop for that car on the side of the road, even though it might make you a few minutes late. Give the homeless person a couple bucks instead of ignoring them (leave the judgment of what they do with that money up to God, He just calls us to give). Feed the birds in the park. Smile at a stranger and say “God bless you!” or “Peace be with you today!” Pay for the person behind you in line at the drive through. Make a difference in one person’s life today by doing something seemingly small. But realize that small thing to you, is HUGE in their eyes. You never know, by doing that one small thing in the name of Jesus, it has the potential to change their entire lives. It may just change their perspective of Christians in general, and maybe even God in general. You don’t know what they’re going through, maybe this morning they prayed that God would send them a sign that He’s really listening to them. And maybe God has set it up so that YOU can be that sign for them today! How cool would that be??? When you bless, you are blessed as well. Because God loves you, go out and show someone else that very same love today, it may just save their soul, you never know.
(The Cathey’s story has been told in a Pulitzer winning article by Jim Sheeler for the Rocky Mountain News and photographed by Second Place Newspaper Photographer of the Year Todd Heisler. Since I personally did not take the photos and therefore do not have ownership or permission (yet) to share them here I will only be including the links to them for you to see, but I strongly encourage you to click on them and view these extremely moving images and read all the captions under them.)