My first recollection of the verse was on a cross-stitched sampler hung strategically close to a brass rimmed clock. I know this was strategic because I spent a lot of time staring at the clock. I suspect I wasn't the only one and so my piano teacher capitalized on that by placing the sampler close to it. Either that or she had subpar decorating skills because everyone knows the first rule of decorating is grouping things in odd numbers. A sampler + brass rimmed clock = two things. Bad choice.
I honestly forgot everything I learned in two years of piano lessons. She kindly suggested to my parents that perhaps I'd be more well suited to something athletic like soccer or horseback-riding and I heartily agreed, thus releasing me from a wood and ivory prison.
But I never forgot the verse.
Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast. You know it, right? It's probably the only passage in the bible that even humanists or atheists would be able to grudgingly accept. Who doesn't love love?
I'll tell you who: me.
To be honest I didn't know how to love love because I didn't feel loved and I didn't know how to love. I faked it fairly well. I skirted it very well. I avoided it often. I pretended it much.
(To be honest, I still do.)
But here is what I am so overwhelmed with these days: love!
I used to hear people talk about loving Jesus or feeling loved by Him and I honestly, honestly, thought to myself nearly every day, "I guess some people experience that, but I'm pretty sure I never will."
I read 1 Corinthians 13 this morning, though, beginning with the beginning. And I realized, maybe for the first time, what Paul meant when he said "I am nothing."
He meant, if you are saying it, but you are not experiencing it, it means nothing.
He meant, if you are prophesying it or claiming its mystery, but you are not rooted in it, watered by it, saved in it, it means nothing.
But the hope comes when we get this, and please don't miss it: we love Him because He first loved us.
So it's nothing we have to conjure up, it's just going to be natural, the overflow, it's going to surprise us to find how much that love is present, palpable, propelling.
I know that there are some of you who will read this and think, "I guess she's experiencing that, but I'm pretty sure I never will," and I want to encourage you to separate what you are doing with who you are and, most importantly, who God is.
If you can shove aside what you DO for the kingdom and just stand, see God for Who He is, apart from what He does, apart from how you feel about Him, apart from all the trappings of secular culture and church culture--what remains is love.
The greatest of these. The greatest thing.