When I look back over my almost 70 years of life, I realize that even though it seems like a long time, compared to eternity, life is short. We make plans about what career we want, who to love, whether to raise a family, etc., sometimes not realizing that it can all be gone in a heartbeat – literally. James 4:14 says, “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” (NLT)
As we finish our series on love, we realize that sometimes we are called to love just for a moment. James is talking about how we can make all kinds of plans for our future, we can choose to love someone or something, thinking they or it will be around forever when it can disappear in the next breath. I came to that realization early in life.
When I was 11 years old, I spent Labor Day weekend with a girlfriend of mine at her house. She had invited me to sleep overnight at her house. She had two brothers and a sister, all of who were older than she. We all got to horsing around in the living room, and one of her brothers accidentally tripped her and she hit her head on the corner of the hallway. She started bleeding on the top of her head, and her Mom got mad at all of us and made us go outside while she cleaned my friend’s head. That was on Labor Day, Monday. By Thursday of that week, when her Mom went to get her up for school, my friend couldn’t move her legs. They rushed her to the hospital. They did all kinds of tests, and then she came down with a superbug staph infection – MERSA. That was the first anyone knew of MERSA. By the following Thursday, my friend was dead. She was the same age as me. It was the first time I was face to face with death. I had never been to a funeral or a funeral home before this. She was a good friend and then she was gone. Her family, our church family, and I only got to love her for a moment in the grand scheme of eternity.
Sometimes, love does hurt. When my girlfriend died, it was very painful. I had to rely on Jesus to help me through the pain. But I realized I would see her again, and she would no longer be in pain or be paralyzed. I still think of her every once in a while and wonder what kind of life she would have had here on earth. But I wouldn’t wish her back here for anything because I know she has been living an awesome life with Jesus! She packed more into those short 11 years here on earth than some people have in a lifetime, and she loved Jesus with everything inside of her! It was worth it to love her as my friend, even if it was just for a moment.
Experiences like this can cause us to shut ourselves off from the world, be afraid to open our hearts to love. This can also extend to loving God. When we have been hurt badly, sometimes we can close our hearts off, not letting anyone in, including God. Despite our badly bruised hearts, God loves us and desires us to open our hearts up to allow His love to wash over us. He proved His love by giving us a way of salvation for our sins. John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (KJV) God proved His love to us by giving His Son as a substitute for our punishment. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (NASB 1995) God loves us even though we may have turned away from Him, rejected Him, and caused Him great pain. When we open our hearts to God, allow Him to love us, and allow His love to flow through us, we can also open our hearts to others. His love for us allows us to risk being hurt and loving even though there is a great possibility that the love we share with someone may not be returned. God is our example. God loved us while we were still sinners, people who didn’t love Him. He shows us how to risk being hurt when we love someone, even if it’s just for a short while. Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (ESV) He doesn’t love us just for a moment, He loves us for eternity! He walks with us and holds us through the hard parts of life, all the while loving us through the pain.
Are you in a situation where you are afraid to open your heart for fear it will be broken? Does it seem that the pain will be more than you can bear? Jesus can help you. He wants you to open your heart to love, even though it may mean you will be hurt. You can then lean on Him when you need to and love even if it’s just for a moment.