If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
– 1 Corinthians 13 (The Message)
My wife has been at the skilled rehabilitation center for a few days. The center is a blend of patients, like my wife, that have had trauma of one kind or another and permanent residents. The center is really a blend of a rehab center and a nursing home.
My wife asked me to get a bag of Hershey Kisses (not a paid advertisement here – although Hershey is in Pennsylvania). I thought of a plastic bowl to put them in. I had no idea why she wanted them.
I filled the plastic bowl, and she told me to place it next to the sink. Her restroom is a solitary toilet, but the sink is in her room, across from the bed. Still no explanation.
Her first visitor was the occupational therapist. My wife was given a grabber, the thing that is advertised to grab a soup can from the top shelf. She was taught how to put on her clothes using it. She also got a device to help her put on her socks. After the occupational therapist had taught my wife how to dress without injuring the wounded parts of her body, my wife asked, “Have you had a kiss today?”
The woman said, “No.”
My wife then told her to get as many kisses as she felt that she needed from the bowl next to the sink.
The woman laughed, took two, and started for the door.
Before she left, my wife said, “Just remember, who loves you, baby.”
I doubt if anyone that came to the room that day knew the Telly Savalas line from the TV show Kojak, but they all had a smile on their faces. I knew the catch phrase, and I thought that his line should go with a lollipop instead of a kiss. I didn’t say anything. (Telly Savalas, playing the head of detectives, always had a lollipop in his mouth.)
She had the same reaction from everyone who came in, until one of the aides picked up her dinner tray. When my wife said, “Have you had a kiss today?” the aide responded, “Say what?!”
My wife said, “No, no, Hershey kiss!” The tension quickly changed to gratitude. She even grabbed one for the aide working the other rooms on the floor.
When the young girl left, my wife said, “Remember when you got the job in Richland, Washington? It was so expensive to live there, and we needed a second income. I got that job at the nursing home in Richland. These people work so hard. They have a lot of grief and little thanks for little money. I need to show them some love.”
I remembered. She worked the night shift. She had about 25-30 patients. When the call light was not lit in one room or another, she had to run up and down the halls turning patients from one side to the other to prevent bed sores. The other nurses taught her how to roll 300 pound sleeping patients, using leverage. (My wife has no demonstrable upper body strength.)
I remembered how she would cry when she got home. She cried because she was exhausted. She cried because she fell behind, unable to turn every patient. She cried because she was afraid that her inability to help them might lead to more pain for them.
I begged her to quit, but I also prayed. About a month later, she got the best job she ever had. She was a certified surgical technician, and the hospital was experimenting with a new concept. They wanted to have a scrub tech in the birth center so that an emergency C-section could be performed there, instead of moving the expectant mother to the surgical wing. A lot of hospitals do it now, but it was an experiment at the time. Since natural child birth was preferred, she had time on her hands. She became the baby photographer. While the mother slept, she would take the babies and play with them. Once each baby had their eyes open, SNAP! For a while, the hospital had a 100% open-eyed baby picture for the mothers as they left the hospital.
My wife has lamented that she is just there. What does God have for her to do? Why is she still here?
Faith, hope, love, but the greatest of these is love. Our friends in Tennessee sent flowers with those words on the basket.
“A complete life is the life of a child. When I am fully conscious of my awareness of Christ, there is something wrong. It is the sick person who really knows what health is. A child of God is not aware of the will of God because he is the will of God. When we have deviated even slightly from the will of God, we begin to ask, “Lord, what is your will?” A child of God never prays to be made aware of the fact that God answers prayer, because he is so restfully certain that God always answers prayer.”
– Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
My wife does not know God’s plan for her life. She just lives it.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.