In my life, I have witnessed all the different kinds of love. Romantic love. Brotherly love. Self-love. In Greek, there are many words for love because they have a name for each kind. All of them are types of human love.
I have also witnessed supernatural love. It is the kind that can only come from God. Loving your enemies. Loving the unlovable. Loving when hate would be easier. Loving without condition. This type of love is beyond human ability. It is something we aspire to, but fall short of, unless God gives us grace to walk in it.
If I am not sure what kind of love I am walking in, there is an easy way to figure it out. The love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13 tells me what supernatural love looks like.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
If I replace the word love with my name in these verses, I can figure out very quickly where I fall short of supernatural love. Not self-seeking. Not easily angered. Keeps no record of wrongs. Yikes! How very far I am! When I read this passage, I recognize immediately the differences between human love and supernatural love. What I call love is in stark contrast to what this passage refers to.
Yet, I think we are all capable of this God-kind of love, if only we will allow him to empower us. We might not be able to live in it all the time, but I have seen amazing examples that are evidence it can exist in our human world. Forgiveness. Compassion. Mercy. Understanding. All are indications that supernatural love is in action.
One such example is the love of my parents. From the beginning until now, their love has always been strong. It has been a great example of the best of human love. I say this because no love is perfect. There are always bickering and arguing in every relationship. We seek our own way. We put ourselves before our partner. We butt heads. It is the normal way of human interaction. Mom and Dad are no different. But, their commitment to one another and their genuine affection despite their differences has always been an inspiration.
However, now, as Mom declines I am seeing the beautiful love they have always shared transformed into supernatural love. The grace of God is pouring out over Dad and empowering him to walk in a way that would have not been possible before.
If you know my dad you know patience isn’t his thing. He is a type A. A bulldog, who never lets go of a thing once he has it. Driven. Go. Go. Go. Mom has always been his opposite. Sit. Contemplate. Wait. Think. This made for some conflict in the normal day to day activities of life. Different ideas. Different approaches. Yet, they did the dance of give and take with beauty. Each had their own way, and they fully respected one another. Not to mention, they have always been adorable together. Theirs is a real love. Hard and soft. Up and down. Real. Genuine. Heartfelt. Holding hands and giving kisses.
Being a caregiver is an incredibly difficult role. It is a daunting and humbling experience…so very humbling for a bulldog. You can’t just power through. It requires crying out to God in order to survive. It is not possible to carry out this commitment without supernatural intervention. It just isn’t. In fact, even with God in the mix, it isn’t easy. But now when I look at it, I see evidence of the kind of supernatural love that only God can provide. He is using Dad to deliver it to Mom.
Dad is patient and kind to her. He does not envy or boast. He is not proud. He does not dishonor Mom, he is not self-seeking, but seeks the best for her. He is not easily angered and he keeps no record of wrongs if she lashes out or pouts. He does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth that God is with them. He always protects her, always trusts in their love, always hopes for the best, and always perseveres, even when exhaustion is his daily bread. His love will not fail, because it is not his love…it is God’s operating through him. All the things of this world will cease to be important and only love will remain. There is always faith and hope even in the midst of hardship, but more importantly there is love…supernatural, divinely inspired love.
As I watch, and walk beside him, I see how weakness is strength. The humility of knowing there is nothing to be done to “fix” it is a hard pill to swallow for a type A. Yet, I see how love acts in the presence of the object of its affection. Such care. Such gentleness. Such tenderness. It is a painfully beautiful thing to witness. A testimony to human love turned divine. We walk with faith. We operate with hope. But we live with love…the greatest of these.