A Paraphrase by Hannah Clark
I tried to tell people about God once. I used my best words, my most persuasive and attractive arguments. Some might even say my speech was heavenly to hear, but nobody could make out my message at all. They turned away and covered their ears, as if I were nails on a chalkboard or a foghorn scaring the wits out of them first thing in the morning. Memorable, but not pleasant. I should have backed up my words with love.
You see, even if I knew everything there is to know, if I had direct access into heaven – a perfect connection from my mind to God’s – and I could explain every perfect and true detail with an understanding beyond compare, AND (as long as we’re dreaming) if I could do miracles with hardly a thought – impressive ones! – it wouldn’t matter a single bit if I was doing all of it without loving people well. It wouldn’t make an iota of difference.
Let’s say I chose a holy poverty and gave all I have away, shared with others and went hungry myself without any complaint (even if I did mention my sacrifice every once in a while).
Even if I had and did all of these things, all my efforts would be totally wasted. Somewhere inside, people know what love looks and feels like. They know the real thing when they see it and they recognize counterfeits too.
Love isn’t in a rush. It doesn’t get snappy when snapped at. It neither wishes for what others have nor shows off to look important. It’s careful to guard others’ reputations and doesn’t “look out for Number One.” Anger comes slowly when love is present, and bad treatment and offense is quickly forgotten. Love is disturbed by ungodly things and comfortable when things are as they should be. Without exception, love makes us protectors, believers, a people of hope who will fight the good fight until it’s over.
Love always wins. Other things – things that might seem more impressive or important – like prophecy, heavenly speech, and deep understanding, just can’t compare. It’s no contest! They don’t have lasting power like love does.
The truth is, even with all our understanding, we can only see and absorb a small portion of who God is. Our best explanations, comparisons and similes are only one piece in an infinity-piece puzzle! But when love is fully realized and takes on shape in us – when we completely reflect the Father, we can grasp the whole picture.
A child understands the world only through his limited experiences, and can only function out of them, but grown-ups have learned along the way. I stopped acting on my every infantile impulse a long time ago! I know the world doesn’t revolve around me.
For now, we are stuck seeing blurry images of God – not seeing perfectly, even though what we do see is so good. Soon, when we are with Love Himself, we’ll see clearly.
He’s known everything about me since before I was born, but when I see Him face to face, I’ll know Him in the same way. Mind-blowing!
There are a few things we should never, ever leave behind: faith, hope, and love. But make no mistake – love is the key.