Summary: In the famous “love passage” that is read at most weddings, 1 Corinthians 13 helps us understand what love is and what it looks like in daily life. Love is not primarily a feeling but an action. The kind of love that you and I are called to demonstrate
For Better and Forever
Rev. Brian Bill
Pastor Dick sure did a great job preaching on parenting last week! Isn’t it a blessing that both he and Pastor Jeff are such effective preachers? During the sermon I was convicted of the many ways that I fall short and was reminded of a promise that I had not kept to one of my daughters. I made things right that afternoon. Later in the day I told our girls that I wanted to be a better dad. One of them said, “We’re all for it!” Another replied, “We’re ready.”
I hope you had a great Thanksgiving break. We went up to see my family in Wisconsin and decided to bring our new dog Charlie on the trip. I couldn’t wait to show him off to my family because everyone has a dog. I knew they would be amazed at how well-behaved he was. That all came crashing down pretty quickly. When we arrived, we put Charlie in the garage with Sonny, another golden retriever. Within five minutes, Charlie picked a fight and they started going at it. After putting them in their respective corners, I mean kennels; we let them out after they had settled down. Sure enough, they tore into each other again, but this time it was Sonny’s fault. About an hour later, Charlie scored a takedown, winning round #3 paws down. We had to keep these combative canines separated for the next two days.
Our well-behaved son was quickly losing favor with my family so we just kept him in his kennel until it was time to go to my parent’s house. Unfortunately, when we took him out of the garage, he spotted the turkey carcass that had been put outside because there was no room in the fridge. My mom was saving this to make the traditional post-Thanksgiving turkey soup. Charlie grabbed this gobbler in his gums and ran away with it. I was mortified, thinking that my mom was going to make chowder out of Charlie for his misbehavior. I finally wrestled the turkey away from our canine and sheepishly drove away. What used to be an attractive animal had quickly become a deviant dog. I think this is how my family was starting to picture him…
[I inserted a picture of the "world’s ugliest dog" here]
This is actually a real dog, which until his death recently, had been voted the ugliest dog in the world. I don’t know if this is how they still view Charlie up north because they seemed to warm up to him as the weekend progressed. That leads to a question. How do we love when we don’t really want to? Is it possible to have affection for someone who seems ugly in every way? If you’re married perhaps you’re feeling like you don’t have the capacity to love your spouse right now because you’re fighting like dogs. Or maybe you feel like you’re in the doghouse. Perhaps you used to feel completely compatible but now you’re wondering whether you and your spouse are irreparably incompatible.
By the way, let me dismantle a common marital myth. I often hear couples who want to get married declare how compatible and similar they are to each other. I learned early on in my premarital counseling sessions that my biggest challenge was to help couples see how incompatible they really were. That’s why I don’t give personality tests that celebrate similarities but instead try my best to equip couples for the real-life struggles of marriage, knowing that opposites attract but they also attack. One person described marriage this way: “Every marriage is two incompatible people in an impossible relationship.” If that’s the case, how in the world can any marriage work today? What holds marriages together? Simply put, the glue is love. I’ve shared this definition before but it’s the best I’ve ever heard: Love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person. If you suddenly realize that you’re “incompatible” that just means that you now know what God has always known. The real challenge is to live out your unconditional commitment by loving your imperfect spouse.
Sometimes it takes awhile for reality to set in. Several years ago the Saturday Evening Post ran an article called “How Things Change” that was subtitled “A Husband’s Sequence of Reactions to His Wife’s Common Cold.”
The 1st Year: “Sugar Dumpling, I’m really worried about you. You’ve got a bad sniffle and I don’t want you to get strep. I’m checking you into the hospital.
The 2nd Year: “Listen, Darling, I don’t like the sound of that cough. I’ve called the doctor and she’s coming right over.”
The 3rd Year: “Maybe you better lie down, honey. I’ll bring you something to eat. Is there any canned soup?”