You Don’t Know Me

When I was at Welch College, the President (who always spoke in chapel) would often reflect on his own marriage in his homilies.  I remember him saying that, when he got married, he didn’t really love his wife.  Dr. Johnson quickly followed that he liked her a lot but didn’t think he loved her.  Developing the point, the godly man related that we must know people well to fully appreciate them.  Anyone who is married understands that love grows.  Consequently, it is true in a real sense that people, at the beginnings of their marital journeys, do not know each other sufficiently well enough to have genuine love.  They may have (it is hoped) a type of love, but it is not fully formed.

That love is not mature does not mean it is unreal.  For instance, when a young child professes love for a parent, we don’t say, “Now, now.  You cannot possibly understand love at your age.”  Rather, we accept the statement with its desire though it come from the mouth of a babe.  You see, an immature love is still love.  While it not comprehend the complexities of desire in a more knowledgeable form, it is, in a way, more pure because it is unclouded.  This is one reason Jesus said a person needs childlike faith to be able to go to heaven.  A person can love with all they have though their resources be limited.  This being said, the nature of real love is that of growth and progression.

Love is not a point.  We are always talking about how we make decisions that affect the directions of our lives, but few issues are decided on a dime.  As with all real change, love is a process.  A very few will remember the salient moment of any turning.  Most develop their habits over time.  This is not to say that there is not a particular point of accepting Christ (for instance), but it is to say that intentions must be followed by actions to be effective.  Many have appeared to make decisions for the good that were seen to be of short duration making them not decisive at all.  A genuine commitment must be informed though incomplete, germinated and developing though embryonic.   

Even the very wise do not perceive all ends, and it is impossible to divine the culmination of a voyage before setting sail.  That we will land on shore if it be God’s will is certainly true, and any point may be extrapolated to the eternal, but we cannot foresee all eventualities.  Neither can we look into the hearts of people.  God told Samuel that His perspective was not superficial, and that He cares for more than the façade.  It is impossible for us to completely know or effectively change people, yet God can do both.  The Bible is an active tool that reveals to people what God already knows about them.  Conviction is a gracious gift of the Almighty giving us opportunity to begin necessary changes.

I am both better and worse than you know.  The same could be said in reverse.  We are all works in progress, unknown yet fully known.  It is also true that we are growing or declining in any area.  Ironically, we can be doing each at the same time.  Such is the conundrum of spiritual and personal growth and development.  And we yearn, yet fear, to let others in.  We want to reveal and not be misunderstood.  This may remain an unrequited need for many in earthly life, but a mighty love may allow sacred intimacy.  Absent human touch, the hand of the Lord is extended to each of us with this grace.  We may join with Paul in pursuing the God who first loved and reached out to us.

Sterl

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