Not long ago some friends and I were laughing together as we recounted some our “first date” experiences. Some of these happened when we were in junior or senior high school. Some happened in college or as adults.
When it was my turn, I told them about the time in college when I had taken a girl on a first date to a concert in downtown Minneapolis, MN. As we drove to the concert, I noticed that I was doing most of the talking and that most of her responses were short, one or two word answers. I started getting the feeling that she really didn’t want to be on this date with me and that she regretted saying “yes”.
I was looking for a place to park when I heard her say something. I turned to look at her and right then she began to barf all over the car. It landed on the dashboard, the window, the floor and on me!
After driving for about ten minutes with the windows down in freezing temperatures, we finally found a gas station where we could clean up. My date went into the bathroom, and I went to work on the inside of the car. Since I didn’t have any cleaning supplies I had to use windshield washer fluid and the giant vacuum at the gas station. Once we got things cleaned up, I drove her home. Thus ended our first date. I was pretty sure because of her embarrassment, it would be our last date as well.
A few days later her roommates asked her how her date was. She said “That just might be the guy that I’m going to marry.” Her thought was that any guy who would clean up her barf on a first date might be worth hanging on to. Last October we celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary.
I didn’t always do it well. I’ll admit to plenty of times when our boys were sick in the middle of the night and I rolled over and pretended to be asleep while Lynn got up to care for them. But over the years, we have learned to serve each other in a way that honors both God and our marriage. After 27 years we better understand what Jesus was talking about in John 13:34-35 when he said,
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
This is a paradigm shift on love in our culture. For some, it is a totally new way of looking at love. I don’t think Jesus was talking about love as a feeling. The feeling of love can ebb and flow. In early November, I heard many people talk about how they “love” the snow. Now that we are in February, that feeling seems to be gone.
Jesus was not talking about the feeling of love, but rather about doing love. He was saying that we must make love a verb instead of a noun. Had he continued this thought, he might have gone on and said. “I give you a new command: Love one another. Care for one another. Serve one another. Forgive one another. Share with one another. Honor one another. Encourage one another. Support one another. Sacrifice for one another.”
When we say, “I love you” we are saying “I’m thinking about you. I’m thinking about your needs, your wants, your desires, and I place them above mine.”
Recently one of my friends told me that his goal in life was to “out-serve his wife.” I can attest to the fact that theirs is a strong and faith-filled marriage because of this godly attitude.
As we are approaching Valentine’s Day, where we celebrate love, we might want to think about how we are loving our spouses, our children, our friends, and neighbors as Jesus loved us. Are we thinking about love as a noun, or a verb?
Love one another…
By Pete Larson
Husband to Lynn
Father of two
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Executive Director of Family Fest Ministries