And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (1 Cor. 13:2)
My father died in the spring of 2015. When I received word he was failing, I immediately drove from Houston to his home in Mississippi to say goodbye. He died in my arms the next day as I was saying “Last Rites.”
While sitting with my Dad on his final day, I remembered all the families I had been with as they had said goodbye to their loved ones. Sometimes I witnessed great love and gratitude, and sometimes I saw deep pain and bitterness. I saw some families hand their loved ones right into the hands of God. I saw other families struggle to work through all their troubles and regrets—sometimes with much healing, sometimes not.
At such moments, I saw that what most mattered was the love they had received and given or the love they hadn’t received or given. As Paul says, we can have it all, do it all, but if we don’t have love, we are nothing, and we have nothing. We can’t pack our things, credentials, achievements, or successes from this world to the next. Only love goes with us.
If we primarily think about love as a feeling, it will not last. Although love may begin with feelings, feelings will not sustain love. Love is more about choice, will, and hard work.
I encourage us to think about love like a muscle. Just as muscles atrophy when they aren’t exercised, so love shrivels when it isn’t. We have to exercise our love for it to grow strong. We exercise love in the daily work of forgiving, compromising, negotiating, sharing, disagreeing, and partnering.
When I drove over the day before my Dad died, I was praying for one last conversation, a real one, one that could bless him for his final journey and bless me for the rest of my days.
That conversation happened. It was a simple one. We talked about love and forgiveness and gratitude. Those moments were my father’s greatest gift to me. Such moments remind us of our Father’s greatest gift to us—the love of his Son, Jesus.
- Is there an important conversation you would do well to have? If so, why are you waiting?
- Are you remembering, practicing, and living as though the love you give and receive matters more than all else? If not, what’s getting in the way?
- If love is like a muscle that needs to be exercised, how strong are the love commitments in your life? Do any of those commitments need some work?