Why do we measure out what we give Him when He gives us all things beyond measure? Aren’t all our interactions, simple and complex, just there to wiggle lose the stones in our hearts – free us to be free in Christ? Free us to find God in a dreary landscape, a shiny pebble, or in the meanderings of a cow. Because, as we’re told, He is always everywhere – and always close to us.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
I can’t stop thinking about our limited vocabulary of love. I’ve been obsessing about it – thinking about all the variety and types of love I’ve witnessed or experienced – all different, but all without a word of their own. A few… some obvious ones like love between a child and parent. That deserves its own word doesn’t it? And even there, isn’t the love you have for a mother different than love for a father? And isn’t love different when you’re close and when you’re not. There’s love between siblings and its many varieties. Brother for sister, sister for sister, brother for brother. And isn’t love different between twins than those with a huge gap in years? Why aren’t there words for all of these? Uncles, aunts, grandparents, cousins – all these we love in different ways too. Unique. Special. Why don’t we have a word for each? Friends, strangers, lovers, spouses – how many varieties of love you can find there! And what about the toddler that smiles at you in the supermarket and fills your heart with joy. What’s the word for that! Then think about pets. Love for a pet is real (as long as it’s not for a cat). And the love they have for us. And amongst themselves. I once saw a sparrow risk its life to save another sparrow from a pouncing feline. Surely that’s love.
Having one word for all of that is like if we just called each other “person” and didn’t give out names. And aren’t names a way of celebrating the uniqueness of each person? Then why don’t we celebrate the individuality of love in its many manifestations?
Then there’s the many loves of God. The big three… the love God has for us that created us – the Father’s love. The love He gives that sustains us – the Spirit’s love. And the love He gives that redeems us – the love of Jesus Christ. And these loves are different. In this verse, Jesus prays that the special, unique love that the Father has for Him would also be in all those who believe. And why would He pray that unless the love of the Father is different than the love that Jesus gives us?
“Righteous Father, although the world has not known You, I know You, and they know that You sent Me. And I have made Your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love You have for Me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:25-26
Why don’t we care enough, why isn’t it important enough to us to make words for each of these types of love? Wouldn’t speaking of them separately, having each a distinct part of our vocabulary, make us think about and be more aware – more sensitive – to all the types of love that swirl around us? And wouldn’t being more aware of the entire spectrum of love that He bathes us in help us to see past the clamoring of the little here-and-now and focus on the glory of the Great Beyond?
What if we only had one word for all the colors in the world? That’s what it’s like having only one word for love. Just think about how the colors we can see are only a small part of all the energy that surrounds us. And in the same way all the love we know about and experience is only a fractional part of the infinite love of God. God is Love. He exists beyond what we experience. Sometimes He opens our eyes and exposes us to a new color, a new facet of love – and then our world shines for a while in its wondrous glow.
We don’t have words for this experience. But we should. Shouldn’t all our communication really be built around sharing our experience of God? Sharing the way we know Him through the love He shares with us? And He shares it with us through others and directly from Himself. We just don’t have the right words to speak to each other – or ourselves – about all our interactions with God. We don’t even try to focus and communicate the wonderful details of our relationship with love, with God. We just say it’s beyond words. We let ourselves off the hook that way. If it’s beyond the words we already have then why don’t we make some new ones that can do the job properly.
Sometimes we see a special light of love coming for a person – like in a stranger on the train – and we know that they don’t know it’s in them. And sometimes there’s a wonderful, unique glow in someone who’s very bruised and hurting – an amazing, magnificent light of God – but they don’t even know it’s there. It’s sad that we do not have the words to explain it to them – and make them aware of the gift they dwell in, and radiate. How different our world would be if we did that for each other. I think we’re supposed to do that for each other. We struggle to do that for each other. We don’t think we have the power. I know we can do it in Christ – but it’s just really hard without the right words.
But enough complaining. Time for some action. I get to go first. I say let’s borrow a word from the Philippines. In Tagalog they say “gigil” which means that intense urge to squeeze, hug, or pinch something adorable or cute. That’s a fine word. And I think a fine place to start.
My gigily love to you,