“Ah February… the month unhappily single people dread. I start to get itchy in January when the red hearts and all things Valentines hit the stores. Love songs, glorious heart-break songs, etc. Love is everywhere. But it’s not. The love the world needs to see, touch, find… is something so much deeper and powerful and permanent than romance.
I’m struck by the words from Jeremiah from God. “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” That “everlasting” word intrigues me. It comforts me. It disconcerts me. Everlasting. God has loved me (you – us) from before time began and will continue to love us through all eternity. Everlasting. A love that transcends time, conquers sin and death, brings forth resurrection, and births new life. Everlasting. A love that survives my apathy, endures my infidelity, overcomes my inconstancy, and pursues me in my wandering.
Everlasting. A love that is patient, kind, forgiving, forbearing, generous, faithful, and constant. A love that never gives up, never loses hope, and never forgets. Sometimes I struggle to experience those aspects of love from God. I impose human, infinitely flawed, qualities and feelings on the God who loves with infinite and divine grace. If we’re honest, we struggle to love others like God loves us. Everlasting. Unconditional. I forget sometimes that “unconditional” is not permission to do whatever without consequence. It just means that among the consequences of my actions, losing God’s love will never be one of them. Everlasting.
Last Sunday (January 21st), we talked about the Hebrew word “ezer.” This word means so much more than “helper.” It is how God describes God’s relationship to us in scripture. God is our “ezer” – helper, savior, warrior, advocate, strength, defender, and so much more. We were created to be “ezers” for one another. The Church, the Bride of Christ, is created and called to be the “ezer” for the world, it’s communities. I think it would be impossible to desire to be all those things: helper, savior, warrior, advocate, strength, and defender, for people we weren’t actively choosing to love. It would be impossible to desire to be that for people without the God who loves us with an Everlasting love.
Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day this year. We’ll have different times for people to come receive ashes during the day and a service at 5:30pm. Perhaps it is a beautiful reclaiming of “love” for the day. There is no greater proclamation of love than the gift of Jesus and the sacrifice of Jesus. So, maybe this year, instead of expressing our love with hearts, candy, dinners, or flowers, we’ll find ways that demonstrate the Everlasting love of God for the people in our lives? Perhaps we’ll find ways to be an “ezer” to those who do not feel or believed they are loved- whether by God or people. Maybe we’ll want more for ourselves than those things illustrated by Hallmark, and instead value the Everlasting love and demonstrations from the “ezers” in our lives and respond it in kind.
With Everlasting Love,