Ephesians 5:25 – Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. (NIV)
"Men, do you remember how it used to be? Wouldn't you like to rekindle that romantic flame again? Then surprise her with a Valentine getaway at …" The woman's voice from the car's radio encouraged me to call to ensure a Valentine's Day she wouldn't forget. The next commercial was from a florist reminding us guys of our duty to shell out $85 for a dozen roses so she won't be disappointed. This was followed by a restaurant's ad for a Valentine's Day special "to romance her like you used to". The commercials on the local radio station were doing their part to remind me that Valentine's Day was just three days away. I had turned on the car radio to get a traffic report, not a guilt trip. I was on the way to the airport to pick up my wife of almost 32 years, and I could remember how it used to be and how much things had changed over the years.
I turned south on the highway, and a couple of more ads about romance floated by me before I heard the traffic report, and I thought about some friends. For convenience, let's call them Joe and Peggy. I thought about how they would spend Valentine's Day.
When I first met Joe at work he was hard to get to know. Joe was a very private person — the kind of man who was inclined to keep to himself and expected others to do the same. I felt honoured that through the years our friendship had grown to the point that he confided in me about Peggy's condition and the things that he had done to help her through the years. For the last several years, Peggy had suffered from acute chemical intolerance. Anything foreign that she could not tolerate could result in a deadly allergy attack.
Through the years, Joe had shared with me some of the ways he had adapted to Peggy's illness. He enlightened me about such things as testing for the right soap, and what cooking utensils were best to prepare Peggy's special diet. Joe educated me on which air purifier was best to help Peggy breathe and about his continuing search for the right humidifier. Joe retired several months ago, and we stayed in touch by way of the telephone. Yesterday, for the first time since his retirement, we had a chance to meet for a cup of coffee. When the conversation got around to how Peggy was doing, Joe brought me up to date.
Joe told me that Peggy now needed breathing treatments every five hours. He informed me of the new medical equipment that he had bought to monitor her oxygen level and her pulse. Joe said that it took an hour and half to wash her hair that day. Joe was not complaining, but educating me on the meaning of dedicated love.
Joe remembers how it used to be, the sailing at Lake Lainer and the trips they used to take, but not this Valentine's Day. Joe will be cooking Peggy's meals, helping her breathe, and doing the best he can to care for his Valentine of over 40 years.
I am thankful to God for Joe and what he shows about true love and real romance. Joe demonstrates that real love is daily serving the ones we love.
Prayer: Gracious and loving God, help us to take our definition of love from yours, and let our practice be based on your example. In Jesus' name. Amen.