This year two of my closest friends lost their mothers. I’m learning a lot walking with them through the days that have followed.
At first, I was struck by their regret, regret over what might have been, regret for what they could have done differently, regret over lost time. This while each of them was a very good daughter, honoring and respecting her mother to the best of her ability.
I also was surprised by the depth of their grief. These were not typical mother-daughter bonds; they were complicated and difficult, laced with their share of hurt and pain.
And yet in the end those negative things washed away, and only the love remained.
As I listened to and learned from my friends, this verse emerged, and as happens with God’s Word, its meaning transformed and took on new relevance.
For there are these three things that endure: Faith, Hope and Love, but the greatest of these is Love.
1 Corinthians 13:3
Faith. Hope. Love. They are ubiquitous. They sit in a stack as wooden blocks on my desk. They get recited routinely at wedding ceremonies, and perhaps their repetition has diluted my ability to grasp their power and significance.
Now, when my friends speak of their mothers, they speak of the love. The memories they hold onto are the sweet ones. The moments they miss are the ones where their mothers’ goodness and kindness were on display.
What I’m coming to see through my friends’ eyes is that this life is passing away, and with it will go the things that overshadow it: fear, stress, anxiety, anger, disappointment, expectations.
By their example I am reminded that the people in my life will not always be here. And while being in relationship inevitably produces difficulty, disappointment and discord, these things don’t last, so why hold onto them at all?
This verse serves as a prism, separating the everlasting from the fleeting, and allowing a truer, more enduring and eternal view of the world to emerge.
As I integrate this new view into my reality, my eyes turn toward him. I am reminded that he loved me while I was his enemy; he loved me so much, in fact, that he was willing to sacrifice his beloved son to rescue me from death and deliver me into this eternal life.
It is rare that a person is willing to die for someone else (which is why we honor our military men and women). But how much more rare is it for someone to be willing to die for an enemy? (Romans 5:7). And yet that’s just what Jesus did for me…and for you.
And just before he died he instructed:
Love one another as I have loved you.
In light of what I’m learning, I think his reasons for this were twofold. First, as we love others well, it draws them into his saving grace.
What is new for me, though, is I think Jesus also was saying that Christlike love is heavenly currency, enriching us to “live our best life now.”
Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.