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July 15, 2014, 12:00 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey August 2014

4 Love is patient; love is kind. Love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; 5 does not act improperly; is not selfish; is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; 6 finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 HCSB)

   Yes, God is still working on me on this one. It seems like God wants to really help ME personally to get this! Does He ever do that to you…with you…in you…for you? Do you ever find Him pounding things into your head and your heart to make sure you get it?

   If it weren’t enough for God to assign me to write on this for a whole year, He gave me a Sunday School lesson to teach recently on His AGAPE’ (love that says, “I love you in spite of you”). Yes…a whole lesson, where I couldn’t avoid it. I was excited to learn more, but alarmed that I might see some hypocrite in myself. 

   Teach it, Marsha. Teach about AGAPE’ love for a whole hour. Oh…and by the way…I’m going to give you plenty of time to try it out yourself. We will work on it together, Marsha. You know—that ‘hypocrite’ part.

   Really, God? Really?

   No, couples “in the ministry” and individuals who teach the Bible have not yet all reached perfection. We have to let God work in our lives, just like anyone else. Our lives are not perfect, our marriages are not perfect, even if they were “made in heaven” like ours! Yes, God most definitely orchestrated our marriage 42+ years ago, but that does not mean that we live in perfect harmony 24/7.

   So, God decided to help us out a bit more lately. Nothing big. Nothing earth-shattering. Just maintenance work on a faithfully committed marriage. Marriage requires that, you know. There are no deep, dark secrets to reveal here. Just the fact that sometimes our marriages become the prime proving ground for learning how to truly love. When those moments come seemingly out of nowhere, how do we [AGAPE’] love our mates? What do we do when we share a less-than-perfect day? How do we treat each other with the truest of true loves?

   Out of that long list of seemingly impossible character and behavior traits in 1 Corinthians 13, we cannot pick and choose. They are unmistakably intertwined, with just no room for self-centeredness. Period. Record keeping turns behavior into mutual score keeping. Marriage is not 50/50. It is 100/100. If we are each giving 100%, then we are also each receiving 100%, which makes for a sure win/win. It is virtually impossible to be patient without being kind or to act improperly and yet rejoice in the truth. Every single characteristic in those verses is dependent upon ALL of the others! We cannot be selective. To have it all, we must each “be” it all, which is only possible through the AGAPE’ Presence of Christ in us!                  

Marsha Cook

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