Candy blogs: Our small group is reading and discussing our way through Francis Chan’s book, “Crazy Love”. I haven’t read a book that made me think so much since “The Shack”. And, yes, it’s also controversial. The chapter we just finished took us through the question of: Are you in love with Jesus?
I’m not all the way there with Chan’s description of what that looks like. He describes it like puppy love … like if I’m not literally panting to spend three hours in prayer at 3:00 a.m. then I’m not really in love with Jesus. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am really enjoying the book. I love the thought-provoking, tradition-assaulting questions he poses. This is good for us comfortable American Christians. We need to be roughed up and jolted out of our little Christian bubbles.
But my description of love is far different. My husband and I will celebrate our 35th anniversary this year. We’ve loved each other a long time. I can tell you that we left puppy love way back there on the journey toward mature love. We enjoyed our puppy love, our honeymoon stage. It was a giddy time of joyful discovery and longings. Yes, it was love.
But 35 years later, the giddiness has been replaced with a deep, rich love that came with battle scars. We fought for our love. We learned about the other. We cleaned up after the other. We deferred to the other. We sacrificed for the other. We defended the other. We overlooked faults of the other. We accepted the other. We endured pain from the other.
We huddled together behind our Shield of Faith against the firey darts of the enemy, and stretched out our Sword of the Spirit (God’s mighty word) to engage the enemy in battle for our marriage. The enemy meant to destroy our family. We continued to choose love because of the covenant we both agreed to in the giddy time.
The choosing took us through the giddy time and the hard-fought battles into what we have today. Let me describe it to you.
When I worked in the corporate world, I would often sit seething in my cubicle. I hated my job. I hated the feeling of being trapped in a world that I wasn’t truly suited for. The day, the world, often looked dark to me. But then, suddenly, I would hear my husband’s gentle voice in the lobby. I could hear him! He was here! I waited breathlessly for his face to appear in my cubicle opening. His embrace was so warm and familiar. THIS was my real world, not the angry seething of the days spent in that cubicle.
Did I love my husband less because I hadn’t been literally panting to be with him every minute of the day? No.
A couple of weeks ago, he surprised me with lunch in the park. One of my client’s offices is just at the front of a city park. He went to spread out our delightful picnic while I hurriedly finished my work to a stopping place. As I walked down the sidewalk toward our table, I saw him look for me. And when he saw me, a look of such happiness came over his face. He looked so glad to see me! Even though I’ve lost my giddy-time looks and often frustrate him, I was reminded by the look on his face that I was still his girl. I was overcome with giddy-time love for him in that momet.
Did I love my husband less because I hadn’t been counting down the minutes to when I might see him again? Of course not.
Underneath these moments of puppy love, lies a bedrock of true love. A love where contentment, companionship, security and intimacy live.
In the examples above, my real world invaded my temporary world … I have to function in my temporary world to make a living, to build the Kingdom. But it isn’t where my heart is. My heart is at home … with my husband.
I easily make the connection to being in love with Jesus Christ in the same way. We had our giddy time, our first love. I enjoyed it; I loved it. But as the years went by, and the more time I spent with Jesus, learning who He was and how different my life was for knowing Him, the giddiness gave way to a tested, deep, abiding, love.
There are these delightful moments when the fullness of God’s presence invades my ordinary, temporal life: in corporate worship and music; in experiencing God’s creation; when I am washed over by the reading of God’s word, the Bible; when I finally understand the next bit of God’s Truth; when I am used as God’s vessel to speak into the lives of others.
But do I love Jesus less because I don’t live in a constant state of emotional and mental awareness of God’s presence? No, but I AM in love with Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter how I feel about my love relationship with Him. It matters what He told me.
Can we neglect our marriage? Can we neglect our faith walk? Of course we can. The key is in the choosing, isn’t it?