Love is a Verb
By Kim DeHoog
I’m not sure we often view love as a choice. We
are raised with a fanciful imagination sweeping us off to places
where we will fall helplessly in love with someone else. Based
on movies today, one might think that even if the beautiful dame
resisted, it would do no good. Clearly, love has seized her and
she is powerless in its grip. It is almost as if we expect love
to happen to us. We are passive and waiting for the almighty force
of love to smack us upside the head. But sometimes it doesn’t.
In the fall of 2003, I moved to the Dominican Republic and entered
into a small community of missionaries. Having grown up in a town
that barely made the map, I was used to small town ethics. Everybody
knows everybody and nobody can do anything without everybody knowing.
But in the Dominican Republic, I initially resisted this. I put
up a wall and kept a safe distance from everyone. It looked like
I loved them, but really, I just co-existed with them. Meanwhile,
I waited for love to strike.
But after awhile, I noticed love wasn’t flowing naturally
out of me. I knew it wasn’t the fault of the incredible
people around me. They were so dear to me and still are. It was
my fault. I felt that God had plunked me down in a random village
in the Dominican Republic with no choice but to make the best
of it. And though it took time, eventually, that’s exactly
what I did.
With infrequent electricity, often there was nothing to do except
sit around candlelight and talk for hours at a time. It was a
simple life, stripped down to the basics, and that left very little
pretense. It was through these kinds of bare encounters that I
learned that love does not choose us, we choose it.
Similarly, when we look at the first chapter of Ruth, we see
that Ruth chose to love Naomi, even when the consequences looked
bleak. If Ruth turned back and left Naomi, she would have had
an easier time remarrying, which was crucial to a woman’s
worth in those times. She was still young. She could have really
done something with her life if she had just stayed with her own
people … and that is what Naomi urges her to do. But Ruth
Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you.
Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your
people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die
I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with
me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates
you and me (Ruth 1:16,17).
In verse 18, we read that Naomi finally realized that Ruth was
“determined”. Any lesser love would not have been
enough. It took a deliberate, almost stubborn love to prove to
Naomi that Ruth was serious about her commitment. Naomi was almost
all the family that Ruth had left. Maybe she was not the family
member that Ruth would have chosen to love, but Ruth chose to
love her anyway.
We have all been put on earth together for a reason, and the
difficulty of love is exactly what enables it to be so powerful.
When we have no choice about who to love, love becomes harder.
Perhaps we need to stop waiting for a feeling of love. The fact
is, when we can’t choose the people we love, we choose to
love the people we have, and that is a far richer experience.
And in doing so, we reflect the love of God, who chose to love
us before any of us loved Him.
1 Peter 1:22 says, “… love one another deeply.”
This kind of love is not a noun, not an adjective, it’s
a verb. It’s a very deliberate action. That is the love
of our Father and the love He calls us to have for one another.
Bible verses on love ...
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