Recently I finished a book, entitled A Loving Life, by Paul E. Miller. I really enjoyed his A Praying Life a few years back, and I was excited to learn that Miller had another book coming out, written in the same vein. First chance I had, I picked it up and was not disappointed. It was an insightful book, based on the biblical story of Ruth, and about what it takes to live a life of steadfast love.
There are many thoughts he shares, but let me name a few here and share some of my observations.
The one that hit me coming out of the gates was the following thought.
At the heart of love is incarnation that leads to death. Death is at the center of love.
What a great re-statement of the essence of God’s love for us. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Think about that. Jesus enjoyed unbroken fellowship with the Father. And after creating a world, and seeing it come under the influence sin, He dives into it (a spirit being, mind you) and assumes the flesh of humanity.
Now that’s rolling up your sleeves and getting involved! That’s the heart of love. Complete involvement.
What do we do when when our child throws up all over the couch? Well, we roll up our sleeves and get to work, right? How do we respond when our wife gets a flat tire in the rain? We dive in and get to work. Is there any other way to handle a problem when you love someone? No, there’s no other way. You simply roll up your sleeves and tackle the problem. And that’s what Jesus did. He took on flesh and got down into the trenches of our everyday life.
Sitting at the heart of love is incarnation. Total and complete involvement. And get this… an incarnation that leads to death. Jesus knew that to take on flesh was to take on flesh to the fullest extent. To say ‘yes’ to you, will often require a ‘no’ to me.
Miller summarizes it well,
Substitution is the structure of love.
Think about making a meal for those you love. You enjoy putting on the works to see them blessed, but you know it will require a lot of work to pull off. Sometimes it’s an all-day affair. You are slaving away in the kitchen when you’d rather be enjoying yourself over a good book and a hot beverage, but you want to bring somebody else joy. Substitution is the structure of love, and death is at its center.
Miller confirms what we suspected, and calls love uneven. Isn’t that what it feels like? If we desire love to be fair, we may not hang very long. Love doesn’t work that way. To love others the way Jesus loves us is, as Miller says, unbalanced.
What a good reminder of the nature of God’s love.
And the nature of God’s love shows up best in the covenant of marriage. Listen to these thoughts.
A bad marriage is one where neither spouse does the hard work of love. But as soon as one spouse begins to do hesed, the bad marriage disappears.
It’s interesting that Miller doesn’t say “as soon as both spouses begin to do hesed.” Rather he said “as soon as one spouse begins to do it.” One! That’s all it takes. Hesed love is a game-changing love, cause once one partner begins to engage in the uneveness of love they become a conduit of grace, not only to their spouse, but to the rest of the family. And before they realize it, they too (without ever looking for it) are, themselves, recipients of hesed love.
To conclude this review, I’ve included following lines taken from various places in the book. Read them in light of being a spouse, a parent, a son, a daughter, a pastor, a friend. Powerful truths to meditate upon in living a life of love.
There is nothing fair about love.
Hesed love is a one-way love, without an exit strategy.
Love always narrows and limits our life. But, the narrower your life, the broader your soul.
And the only way you endure the weight of love is by being rooted in God.
The dying is up to us; the resurrection is up to God.