The Language, Labor and Love of Forever

by Andy Wood on August 7, 2012

in Esteem, Five LV Laws, Following Your Passion, Life Currency, Love, LV Cycle, Principle of Eternity

I keep a list of Darling Words – words that have a lot of charm or inspire the imagination.  “Forever” is one of those words.  It speaks of life.  Grace.  Commitment.  And a long, long time.

Used poetically, Forever speaks of a depth of love that’s supposed to exceed the way we feel about watermelon or melted cheese on tater tots.  It’s supposed to last longer than the latest distraction or the next annoying thing somebody does.

Forever is sometimes used to take a snapshot of a moment or a feeling.  It’s the language of a hopeless romantic or magical thinker, inviting someone to a lifetime of adventure.

But more than that, Forever speaks the language of letting go of the past and starting something new.  It speaks of a lifetime pursuit worth waiting for or something more powerful than death and the grave.

We come by our attraction to Forever honestly.  The Bible says that God has placed eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11).  In spite of the vanity of our fallen condition, we are instinctively drawn to love for the long haul and life beyond this lifetime.  Why, then, is “Forever” such a fleeting thing?  Why don’t connections or commitments last beyond the latest inconvenience or frustration?

It’s All About Relationships

Nobody uses “Forever” to talk about their job or finances.  Few people use it to describe their house or the town where they live, unless the words “stuck here” come tagging along.

Forever is about relationships.  Family.  Love.  Eternal life.  Nobody imagines themselves living alone in heaven.  The problem is that on this side of God’s eternal dwelling place, people can be impossibly hard to deal with.  “Forever” may sound magical, but “patience” and “forgiveness” sound a lot like work.

And we tend not to like having to work that hard.

It’s All About Movement

Know why wedding pictures are so popular?  Because they take snapshots of a magical moment in time – the perfect day, the perfect (or not) clothes, all the perfect words said.

Problem is, life is more like a movie, with thousands of different pictures flowing together to write a story – not one frozen-in-time snapshot.  But often we get lost in the one picture, and don’t flow with the rhythms of life and change.   So when life doesn’t imitate the honeymoon, or when we’re scarred by the recurring memory of painful words or actions, if we aren’t prepared to adjust, to forgive, to move, or to grow, then “Forever” becomes a sad joke.

It’s All About Trust

Forever is an exercise in faith.  Faith in God.  Faith in somebody else.  Forever is about letting go of your fear and putting your trust in Someone who can enlarge your imagination and keep your heart safe at the same time.

But there’s the problem.  People who capture your imagination will often break your heart, sometimes repeatedly.  On the other hand, people who keep your heart safe often have the imagination of a brick wall.

That’s where a relationship with God comes in.  In 35-plus years of following Christ, I’ve never met anyone who said, “He bored me to death” or “He broke my heart.”  He invites us to an eternal adventure!

But beyond our relationship with Him, He also gives us the capacity to see past the limitations and longings in our relationships with people.  He charges our hearts with the strength to wait it out or work it out.  In earning your trust, He empowers you to risk trusting your heart and trusting others again.

It’s All About Growth

Know why sometimes our images of Forever make us feel restless or bored?  It’s because we never see any capacity for change.  We get stuck in ruts here, and our picture of heaven gets lost in the same-old, same-old.  No adventure.  No change.  No “taking it to another level.”

But that’s not how Forever works.  The magic of Forever is found in new delights, breaking out of old routines and sometimes even old rules we’ve made for ourselves.  Check this out:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning;
Great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).

“New every morning!”  Does that sound boring to you?  Imagine living in that Forever!  Oh, wait… you already are!

Same goes for Forever-kind of relationships.  The ones that last for the long haul are filled with anticipation and adventure.  And that’s no accident – it’s intentional.

It’s All About Love

I don’t mean puppy love or attraction action.  I’m talking about a furious, determined love that looks something like this:

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm;
For love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.
If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love,
It would be utterly scorned (Song of Solomon 8:6-7).

Forever love is a love that risks.  One that gives and knows what to do when hearts become separated.  This is a love that can rivet your attention and draw out your adoration.  It’s a love that’s willing to be vulnerable and honors those whose hearts are vulnerable and transparent in return.

This is a love that works sometimes and plays sometimes and laughs often and watches always and never stops learning.  It praises lavishly, surrenders willingly, asks boldly, confesses honestly, protects carefully, and releases generously.

Forever is the rugged love of Dearest Friends and covenant partners who refuse to give up.  And lest you think that somehow you’re unworthy or undeserving… lest you think that Forever is a word for somebody else’s vocabulary, may I remind you that He has set eternity in your heart too?

Forever is more than just a word for poets or the work of super-saints.

Forever is the wonder of knowing that you were the joy set before the Darling of Heaven that would cause Him to endure the cross.

Forever is the faithful witness that promises never to leave or forsake you.

Forever is the hopeful waiting for the day He calls your name.

Forever is the eternal truth that you – yes, you – were worth waiting for.

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