It had been a troubling morning. I was in a hotel room in Juneau, Alaska, waiting for luggage to arrive. My husband left for his early morning conference in the same clothes he had put on twenty-four hours earlier. Turbulent weather had caused our flights to be cancelled, routes to change, and nerves to fray. But none of that compared to the unsettling phone call I received shortly after arriving there.
Life had taken a painful turn for a family member. It seemed preventable, if only people had done what they were supposed to do—you know what I mean—Christians acting like Christians. Lives were unraveling; careers in jeopardy; reputations on the line. The stinging words of accusations burned within my heart as the story replayed over and over in my head. How could God let this happen?
Thankfully, I had packed my Bible in my carry-on bag. I followed the leading of the Holy Spirit to Galatians 5:22. This familiar verse of scripture listing the fruits of the Spirit brought me to a dead stop: “Now the fruit of the Spirit is love….” This word love is so powerful, so all-encompassing, so compelling. Of course, being one who prided myself in being filled with the Spirit, I knew this fruit wasn’t optional. The verse plainly states that the fruit—the growing, yielding, obvious evidence—of the Spirit is love.
The next stop on the journey to find peace for my aching heart was the famous love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. I knew it well. The words flowed from memory as my eyes followed the print. All of the characteristics of love listed in verses 4 through 7 could in no way be akin to the flesh. They clearly spoke of life in the Spirit, the high road, the selfless life, the yielding of one’s own rights.
As my eyes scanned verse 8—“love never fails”—I quickly thought, “I know what that means. Or do I?” I had always believed that if I loved, truly loved with God’s love, the other person(s) with whom I had a conflict would eventually change their mind and come around to seeing things my way. Wrong.
In the case at hand, I was confident that such a happy and blissful ending just wasn’t going to be the outcome. I also knew that for me to love meant to relinquish my right to be right, and the people involved would simply walk away thinking they had won.
It was in that moment that the Heavenly Father gently spoke a new revelation to my heart. For the first time, I saw these ever-so-familiar-words with new eyes, and thus, with new meaning. I read them again slowly, adding the freshly Spirit-inspired revelation—Love never fails me!
Today, some fifteen years later, this age-old truth proves once again to be the medicine I need. If I choose to love in every situation—regardless of the outcome—I will have the peace of God. Love will never fail to produce the joy and contentment within my spirit that only God can give. I will have grace to bear all things (including the ones I think unfair), believe all things (seeing God’s hand at work in every circumstance), hope all things (knowing all things work together for good to them who love God), and endure all things (even the things I don’t like).
It is so true—love never fails me! ~ Janie Kellogg