Not too long ago, I had what I call a “Theme Day.” It’s the kind of day where you can’t help but notice a common thread weaving itself in and out of your everyday activities. This was it:
While the kids of the group home I work in were at school, I was vacuuming the room of one of the boys (who I will call Stephen), and upon moving his bed I saw the suspected amount of toys and clothes hiding there from a destiny of order and cleanliness. As I sorted through it, I noticed a black notebook and took a look into it. Somewhere in the middle of the notebook filled with doodles of castles, superheroes and race cars were these words:
I have a girlfriend but i do not no what her name is. But I am going to find out her name. she is relly pretty and she is very nice and very kind. I like her a lo t… I love the girl a lot she is so bewtiful but I dont no her name.
After I finished vacuuming, my co-worker Luc and I headed out to the driving range. As we waited in the little golf shop for the owner to show up, I noticed a paper displaying the picture of an older man, along with his phone number. Below his photo lay this description:
Seeking an affectionate and loving non-smoking lady age 60 to 78. Someone that enjoys country music and dancing. To enjoy companionship. Let’s meet for coffee and see where it goes.
Almost immediately, I thought of my encounter with Stephen’s notebook recording his love for his beautiful, nameless, girlfriend. I couldn’t help but think of how similar the deep yearnings of my eleven-year-old friend and this elderly stranger were.
Once the owner arrived in the shop, we asked him if he accepted Visa or debit cards. The ‘70s’ décor should have tipped us off, because he didn’t, so we drove to the nearest bank with an ATM. As we entered the bank, we approached a table holding up half a cake with already sliced pieces on plastic plates. A book with lined pages was laid open on the table for customers to offer their congratulations to the bank in celebration of its 25th anniversary.
“Please enjoy some cake,” a perky staff member encouraged Luc and I as she walked passed us, while we wondered if we should have a piece. I wasn’t a member of the bank, but my hungry stomach convinced me to gladly accept the woman’s invitation. After eating my piece, I included my own comment in their book congratulating the bank on its first 25 years of existence. “Hope your next 25 years is as good as your cake,” I wrote. It was quite good cake, so I knew they’d be up for a challenge. Once we got our cash, we returned to the driving range to relieve some stress.
While I was out on the driving range slicing the golf balls more times than the cake probably had been, my mind wandered to Stephen’s declared love for the pretty, nameless girl and that old man on his search for a non-smoking, country music-loving, dancing woman. I couldn’t believe I had the chance to peer inside the souls of these two, separated by some six decades, witnessing their desire for perhaps their greatest need in life: love.
Love. We all crave it. We were made for it, and if we don’t receive it, some essential part of our hearts undoubtedly fades away. To love and be loved are not just innate desires, they are life or death needs.
In North American society and culture where looking “Calm, cool and collected” is considered an asset, the need for love is often believed to be a weakness instead of appreciated as a quality of one’s humanity—made in the image of the God who loves. And so, like the black notebook hiding underneath a seemingly neat and tidy bed, one can put on a mask that asserts to others they, “Have it all together” in an attempt to hide their cavernous inner hunger to be treasured, understood, held, heard … loved. Whether one is successful at hiding their eternal heartache for love, the fact remains: We all desperately crave love, to give it and to receive it.
After my time at the driving range, I couldn’t help but wonder what role the Bride of Christ has immersed among the multitudes hungry for love? We are the ones bound up in an eternal covenant, married to the Groom that all of humanity is searching for in one way or another.
When the Western church is in an age when strategies to increase church attendance, or the latest book outlining seven steps to improve your life are popular topics, it doesn’t take much to see how addicted we are to seeing tangible results to what we do.
Love, however, seldom reaps instant, tangible results.
Will we as Christ’s Bride, who have hopefully tasted the sweetness of His love, invite the world to a piece of the same proverbial cake (or rather, Bread of Life) that we had the privilege of celebrating life with? Even if they aren’t members of the church, just as I wasn’t a member of that bank, will we love them with the same unconditional love that we have and still do receive from Jesus? Or will a possible lack of interest for the gospel in them create a lack of desire in us to love them regardless?
May the Bride of Christ let go of her desire to witness the tangible results of her service for her Groom, the One who asks her to live by faith. Sure, we won’t see results right away, but as sure as we know all of humanity is drawn towards love, we can know if we love others as Jesus did, they will inevitably be drawn towards Him. For God is Love.