For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:12-13
Sunday afternoon, walking our grandchildren over to the park, we turn the corner into the entrance and I let them loose. They shoot between the trees and into the green space like they have been launched from a catapult. I shake my head and smile, watching them run with joy and abandon. Then my eyes fill with tears.
They are just so beautiful, they shine so brightly, and they represent so much love. I cried because I’m just an old softie, I cried because love like that is exactly what this world needs, I cried because life is so fragile even while love is so strong, and I cried because of Hannah Viall, and Annalisa Schulze, and Melanie Mohlmann.
To be honest, I cried a lot this weekend. I cried Friday evening when I looked over the crowd of people at Hannah’s memorial service (almost 1,000) – not for the grief but because of the sheer weight of the love in the room. I cried Sunday morning when my friend Ed sang Chris Rice’s “Come to Jesus.” I cried when I took communion, the bread and the wine, the life and the promise.
Flying Through the Air!
At the park, the children wanted to swing. So I pushed them – maybe a little too hard and too high – standing right there, hearing them squeal with delight, pushing every now and then to keep the momentum going. Then Beks leaned back a little too far, her legs shot forward, she threw her arms out wide, and she parted company with the swing. And I stepped in and I caught her, a flying four-year-old, and I had her in my arms before she even had time to be afraid….
My eyes filled with tears again because I know we can’t always be there to catch them. I know that life is all about falling down and getting back up again, about being held by those who love you, about brushing yourself off, about learning how to float, and then swim, about adventure and risk, and about holding on tight, and – yes – about letting go.
So I watched them play, running down the grassy slope as fast as they possibly could. I watched them in worship, too, Beks singing along with the songs and David on the edge of his seat, looking around so intently as people lined up to take communion.
“Grandaddy, why is your church so big?” he whispered. “Big, how? I said. “There are so many people here!” David explained.
“Well, these people love God so much,” I explained. “And their hearts are so full of Jesus that the love spills over and they want to invite their friends too.”
The love spills over. That’s really what made me tear up so often over the weekend. Not so much the pain as the love. Love that is rich, and authentic, and love that points to such overwhelming truth. It wouldn’t hurt so much if it wasn’t so real.
In love, and because of love – DEREK