I was listening to the Southern Gospel radio station enLighten on Sirius Satellite Radio the other day while vacuuming in the living room. I was actually sitting on my knees attempting to clean the dirt and dog hair from under the couch when I was suddenly taken captive by the lyrics of a particular song. I’m not sure who the artist was or even the overall theme of the song, except I think it had something to do with God’s grace.
Since hooking up with this station a while back, I have come to see that Southern Gospel (in my thinking anyway…) tends to differ from the Contemporary Christian music that I’ve listened to since the mid-1970’s, in that most songs seem to tell a story, many times being a testimony of God’s love, grace, forgiveness, peace and/or His miracle working power in our lives. The song I heard that day was no different.
It began by the artist telling about a time that he had come home one evening from work only to find that his wife had left him. Then he shares his personal pain with the experiences he had on the first Sunday Service that he attended without her. Well, I kind of lost track of the rest of the song at that point as I began to picture what that would be like if it was me!
I was fighting some emotions that afternoon in the living room which I think made it easy for me to drift off in thought with that song! Over the years I worked many swing shift schedules and could easily picture coming home at night to a darkened house. My initial thought of the scenario of coming home to find an empty home was simply stated, “If she ever left me, I think I would die!”
A little melodramatic… ya think? But nevertheless, it would be devastating to even consider such a notion… then I immediately broke into a smile, looked across the room at Piper who was snoozing in her chair and thought without ANY doubts… “That would NEVER happen!” I can honestly say that any such thought NEVER had a place in our relationship… nothing even close!
And yes, I did work many swing shifts but normally came home to find her up and standing in the living room to greet me with a big smile and hug. She even did that when I was managing the Receiving Department at The Home Depot in Tulsa and many nights would get home around 2:00 in the morning! Then she’d go off to the kitchen and fry me a burger! (We ate a lot of burgers back then!)
The other thing that the song did that afternoon, was to get me to thinking about the last ten years of our lives and how our love for each other was not only put to the test but put to work!
I talked in my last blog post (Love and Faith, 6/13/18) about the important interactions between faith and love. I sought to establish the point that just as faith works by love, (See Galatians 5:6) that the opposite also holds to be true… in that real Christian love works by or along with our actions of faith. And that is what popped up in my brain as I began to think through the path that the Southern Gospel song had opened up to me!
I’ve mentioned in the past of how I took a lot of flack when it became clear that my wife’s fight with Alzheimer’s was at the point where she couldn’t be home alone anymore and we talked, looked at all the financial figures, prayed and then followed what we believed to be the Lord’s directions and I quit my outside job traveling with a merchandising team for The Home Depot. To be perfectly honest… it was an easy, no-brainer decision for us. When that time came we both KNEW, no questions asked, that I was to be the one… the ONLY one who was to take personal care of my wife’s needs.
As far as we were concerned it was time to ace the test and put our love for each other - - “In sickness and in health” – to work! I went back to my side business caring for yards and lawns and was able to take Piper with me. It was a win/win situation. I got to keep an eye on her, keep her mind occupied with some of the tasks of the various jobs and get a lot of fresh air! And sure, there were a few times when the finances got a little tight, but Piper’s well-being and my caring for her was well worth any of the difficulties we faced along the way.
I’ve come to learn over these years that real love is putting yourself out there on a daily basis giving totally of yourself for the benefit, safety and life-sustaining health of another… Not just in stating what I have come to see as “empty words” without any actions to back up those thoughts. The Apostle Paul seemed to say it best in Ephesians 5:6 when he wrote, “Don't let anyone deceive you with meaningless words…” Then he made it even more succinct when he added in the very next verse, “Don't be partners with them.” (God’s Word ©)
I thought it interesting that the Greek word translated “deceive” actually means “to cheat, delude or beguile someone.” (Strong’s and Thayer’s) I took that in reference to our experiences, to mean that meaningless words of love can actually be another’s excuse to cheat you from their personal assistance in the midst of your situation or to be deceptive toward you. The Message Bible talks of not letting yourselves to be “taken in by religious smooth talk…”
That’s kind of a strong statement… but I get the definite feeling that Paul was trying to make a strong point concerning the way we interact with others. Do we sometimes throw around Christian terms like “I love you” simply as some sort of “religious smooth talk” that we may think is an expected response to certain situations… without really meaning it? Without putting some type of physical action in back of our kind words?
So…If as the scripture declares “faith which does nothing is useless?” Can we also deduce that LOVE which does nothing is also useless? (James 2:20 God’s Word ©)
Hummm… Having gone through what has turned out to be the roughest situation in my entire life with the deterioration of my sweet wife’s health, I have come face to face with many mistakes that I was guilty of before having actually gone through such a gut-wrenching ordeal. And one of the biggest was going through the motions of saying what was seemingly the right and expected thing to say in the situation without getting personally involved in the individual’s need!
Now that I am on the other side of the equation… I can see and feel how nice it is to have people come by your side and call and talk to Piper even though she can’t reply, or others like the hospice folks or one of our neighbors who come by and just sit next to her, hold her hand and love on her. And I’ve mentioned before how much it means to me when someone takes the time to stop in the grocery store aisle, bend down and actually say a few nice things directly to her! Now in my book… THAT IS WHAT CHRITIAN LOVE IS ALL ABOUT!
What do you think?
Have a great weekend, and as you do keep asking yourself… “How am I expecting to put action to my kind words of LOVE today?”