Updated: Jul 28, 2022
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still You give Yourself away Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. (Cory Asbury)
Valentine’s Day is coming. Outside the south door of the Redmond Fred Meyer is a display of primroses, red ones forming a huge heart embedded in a frame of the blues. It’s so gorgeous I took a picture.
One Valentine’s Day back in the ’90s, my husband Kent went all-in decorating my office at our manufacturing business. Streamers hanging from the ceiling. Huge hearts on the wall. Fancy card. Confetti. Chocolates. Red heart-shaped mylar balloon. Roses.
All day our employees stopped by to admire and giggle. I must have made him feel guilty for something beforehand. Conveniently, I’ve forgotten how, but he sure made an unforgettable memory.
Afterwards, I told Kent he didn’t need to do that anymore, advice which, fortunately, he’s taken to heart. Still, I have no doubt—zip, zero, nil—of his love for me. Why is that?
I have daily assurance of his love. For example, just today, I stared into fridge and freezer, looking for dinner options, then went to Kent for guidance. “I’m sure you’d like some meat. What kind of meat would you enjoy? Anything you’re craving?” Kent knows I hate touching raw meat and love meatless cuisine. He considered and then said, “You could get one of those cooked chickens.”
Oh, how he loves me. He generally eats anything I put on the table. He has the grace to adore leftovers and always looks for the oldest one when he opens the fridge. I bought the roasted chicken, feeling full of tenderness and gratitude for the man God assigned to me.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is one of the best sources of love inspiration. In the 44th chapter, Elizabeth Bennet encounters Mr. Darcy at his home unexpectedly (they gave tours of great estates back in the day). She’s mortified, as the last time she saw him, she told him off. Elizabeth had made a long-term project of despising Mr. Darcy, with prejudice and pride. But when they met again, Elizabeth was astonished and humbled by his kindness to her and her relatives. That night, Elizabeth “lay awake for two whole hours endeavoring to make (her feelings for him) out.” Her conclusion: “Above all, above respect and esteem, there was a motive within her of goodwill which could not be overlooked. It was gratitude; gratitude, not merely for having once loved her, but for loving her still well enough to forgive.”
The fact that I don’t like to cook meat may not rise to the level of needing forgiveness (though being crabby about it does). But it’s a teensy example of the need for acceptance and forgiveness that must operate in our marriage of opposites for us to look at each other with fondness year after year.
Beyond our differences (such as liking or not liking meat) is a commonality – we’re both sinners (my crabby habit is a sure symptom). Sin is quite unhelpful to marital joy. It expresses itself in all sorts of pride and prejudices, and in seeing me and my ways as superior to you and yours time and time again. How can we, who are so handicapped in love (so in love with ourselves), pledge faithful love to someone likewise handicapped? We have no idea what’s around the corners, yet we promise love in sickness and in health, in poverty and prosperity, in good times and bad. Is that crazy? Or reckless?
God pioneered reckless love. He designed a world beautifully appointed for humanity and unveiled a dream of love from Him to them, and back, and to one another. But before God spoke any of it into existence, He knew what sin would do. He knew He would grieve over His creation and suffer in His love. Is that reckless? Yet God committed Himself to us with a love that forgives seventy times seven—endlessly.
God invites us to imitate his reckless love (1 John 3:16, 4:11, Ephesians 5:1-2, John 15:12). We, too, will grieve as we love, but mutual forgiveness is a rich soil in which to cultivate a marriage—or any relationship. My perennial advice to married couples is: Forgive daily. And I should add, receive with gratitude the forgiveness offered you. On Valentine’s Day, why not pledge some reckless love to someone you know?