"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
C.S. Lewis remarked within hours after losing his wife to bone cancer, "Why love if losing hurts so much?"
I suppose the reason why losing hurts deeply is because we love deeply. The scriptures teach us that loving is as much about us as it is about the other person. The reason we love others is to know that we're not alone. Lewis wrote, "I can teach now of costly love because of my own personal experience ... personal experience is the brutal teacher."
I write this column to share from my heart as a Christian, as a pastor and from my own personal experience. My older brother has struggled on and off with drug addiction for as many years as I can remember. It is hard to put into words watching someone you love slowly killing themselves in front of you. Most of my family has cut themselves off because it is too painful to stay engaged.
I suspect I would follow the same pattern if I fail to remember my own story of Jesus raising my life from out of the ashes. Believe me, I'm not strong and I'm not brave, and yet I know that I am a Christian with a burden to carry and a message to share. That is no matter how far someone falls, no matter how deep the pit, we must tell them that "no pit is so deep that God's love is not deeper still."
As Christians, we are called to stay engaged even at great cost to ourselves, because this is exactly what our master did for us, He laid down His life that we might have it, and no servant is greater than his master.
Since SouthPoint's beginning just over two years ago, one of the great lessons I'm learning is that everybody has a story. Every story is different and yet they're all somewhat familiar, asking the same questions, how do you love someone, how do you stay engaged, when it hurts so much?
Recently I watched again, one of my favorite movies, "A River Runs Through It." Norman Maclean's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Maclean) great American novel has touched so many because it depicts the emotions of those who've risked to love and suffered because of it. He shares of his experience listening to his father's last sermon on costly love shortly before his death.
"Each one of us today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing help Lord, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don't know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them - we can love completely without complete understanding."