Summary: We like to think we can support our lives on love alone; but we first need hope, a healthy self-love; and fundamentally need faith, trusting in God’s empowering us.
With the summer coming on, we began to think about getting our deck ready for some serious use. It was built several years ago and needed a little repair work.
Now I had been reading about some problems with deck construction. I had read of decks that had collapsed, and how the building inspectors found that they had been secured to the wall of the house with nothing more than some nails or with maybe three or four bolts. Those decks which had collapsed were essentially standing on one support. And that’s not enough.
I can demonstrate why very easily. Here’s this one single piece of wood. All by itself. Not attached or connected to anything else. You can push it around any way you like. It won’t resist anything just by itself. It certainly won’t resist a lot of stress.
It’s kind of like one of the little girls I saw during Vacation Bible School. Everywhere she stood, she just drew one leg up and stood on the other leg. To tell the truth, I think she was part stork. Well, that was fine until the little boy standing next to her got restless and bumped her. You know what happened next! Humpty-Dumpty time.
So a deck, or anything else, built with only one means of support won’t stand up to much.
Well, I went out and checked underneath our deck. Thought I’d better count the bolts. Good news, good news. Not only do we have good solid posts, the first means of support; but also we have twelve good firm bolts, going all the way through the wall of the house and secured on the inside of the building. My deck is firmly anchored from two directions. It should stand. It should be rock solid.
The only thing about that is that when you walk across it, it vibrates. No, let me take that back, it doesn’t just vibrate; it shakes. Well, no, it doesn’t exactly shake either; it rocks. It rocks and rolls. Even when one of our little dogs walks across it, you can feel it rocking and rolling. I couldn’t believe it at first, that a fifteen-pound animal could actually rock this big solid deck. And needless to say, if her fifteen pounds can shake it noticeably, you can actually get seasick when I set foot on it with my hundred and mppphty-mmph pounds.
But again, I can demonstrate why. If you have not one but two supports, they help each other; they are better than one. But they are still not strong enough. The geometry doesn’t quite work, not just yet.
Well, the repairman said, I can fix this. I can take care of it. It’s very easy. All I need to do is to install braces at each corner, where the vertical meets the horizontal. And that will take care of the problem.
It certainly will. It will steady the deck. And I know why. Because the strength is in the triangle. The strength is in the triangle. It’s simple geometry. The triangle is a rigid form. It won’t flex or give. It’s solid. The strength is in the triangle.
Life is like that too. Our ability to support our lives is like that. The strength is in the triangle. The trouble is that many of us go around trying to do what needs to be done without the kind of support that would make it possible. We try to get by on only one or two supports. But that won’t stand.
The apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthian church, lays out wonderful thoughts about what love is like and what love does. He does such a great job of it that everybody seizes on I Corinthians 13 as a favorite chapter. People who know nothing else about the New Testament know this chapter. People who want a touch of Christianity without delving too deeply into Christ Himself will read and praise this Scripture. Whenever I am asked to do a wedding and one of the marriage partners is not a Christian, and we get down to selecting Scripture to be used in the ceremony, invariably the non-Christian partner will want I Corinthians 13. It sounds so wonderful and so dreamy, this business about love. Especially that last line: now abide faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love. What bride does net believe that love is the greatest? What groom is not intoxicated by love?
More than that, it sounds as though love is all there is to life. It sounds as though love is all you need. You know, "I’ve got your love to keep me warm" kind of stuff. It sounds as though if you just get out there and love one another, all will be well. Faith, hope, love; these three, but the greatest of these is love.