A number of years ago (back when getting large groups of students together was still a normal thing to do), my husband and I helped coordinate a fine arts festival for several middle school choirs. For this particular event, a friend of ours graciously agreed to be the guest conductor, and she did a wonderful job of passionately and energetically leading this group of young singers to create beautiful music together - an accomplishment worth celebrating, as many will tell you that leading a group of middle school singers can at times feel like an uphill battle. (Even more impressive was that as I recall, she led the group for a good amount of the day wearing her baby in a moby wrap!)
Along with her talents of being able to keep this group focused and help them make music that was worth listening to, something else sticks out to me as I think back on this event. It is not unusual during a choral festival for the guest conductor to take some time to tell stories or give inspiring pep talks as part of the experience. During one such pep talk, I remember my friend sharing with the group that if they remember nothing else from the whole event, she wanted them to remember this. And then she said these three words: "Love never fails."
I am not sure if the students who attended that festival would go on to forget those words or not, but for some reason, I never have. And lately, this concept that "love never fails" has been a source of strength for me in new ways.
There are probably about a million life applications for this phrase. One application, probably the one I tend to first think about it, is to match it up with the verse that says "Love covers over a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8). It's the idea that if you choose to love, you can't go wrong. You may feel like a failure in a whole host of ways, but if your aim is to love, you can't fail. And in fact, the act of loving itself can make up for "a multitude of sins".
As true as it is that loving matters, and that in fact it matters a whole lot more than anything else, I'm afraid I also tend to twist that concept in my head and turn it into some kind of added pressure on myself. I need to make sure I'm doing enough loving. Love never fails, so I had better work harder at loving, so I don’t fail.
But the thing that has given me hope recently is the realization that this love doesn't come from me. It's not something I need to (or even can) muster up on my own. The only way I can keep loving, or start loving at all, is when I am connected to the Source of love. And love never fails.
I run out of patience. God, the Source of love, doesn't. Love never fails.
I get weary. God, the Source of love, doesn't. Love never fails.
I make mistakes, I say things wrong, I forget what is true, I fail. God, the Source of love, doesn't. Love never fails.
Psalm 73:26 says, "my flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." I find it incredibly comforting to know that even when I fail to love the way I want to, God's love continues and never fails.
The thing about this truth is that I so quickly forget it. And I go back to putting all the pressure on myself to get everything right. How do I keep the truth of God's unfailing love in front of me? In some ways, the answer to this question will be different for everyone. What helps me remember God's unfailing love might not be the same thing that helps you. (Actually I would love to hear your thoughts on what helps you!) But I have a hunch that whatever your answer is, it might have something to do with words and repetition.
My family is currently going through a simple advent devotional that focuses on a name for Jesus each week. The one for this week is "Word", and I've been thinking a lot about the power of words. Like in the story of Creation, words can bring things into existence. Although we do not have the same power that God does and can't literally bring something to life, the Bible does talk about how our words have the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). When we say words out loud, something happens. Even if we are just saying them to ourselves.
What would happen if I would speak words out loud that proclaim God's unfailing love? What if the next time I feel overwhelmed or discouraged, I would speak words that I know are true, even if inside I'm not feeling it?
Once in sermon at our church, the speaker talked about making the truth of God's love a stronghold by repeating it over and over. For me, one way to do this is by singing. Songs have a way of sticking in our heads. And playing over and over and over again.
Throughout this year, I've been writing some songs, and many have come out of times when I feel discouraged or overwhelmed. But somehow God meets me in the midst of those feelings and reminds me of the truth of His love. And often what starts out as a cry for help somehow turns into a proclamation of the truth of God's unfailing love.
Here is one of those songs, this one based on Psalm 13.
Love never fails. May we always, always, always remember. *I'm thrilled to begin sharing this blog with the West-Mont Christian community in addition to the BCS community. BCS and WCA have been partnering together in many aspects of school life for years, and recently the schools formed a brand new district together. The prayer ministry is just one area in which the schools will be coming together under one larger umbrella, and our hope is that all who have been praying for BCS will continue to pray and will welcome members of the WCA community to come alongside us and join in praying. While there will be differing needs for both schools, we can be united in our overarching goals of seeing God's Kingdom come, asking for His will to be done in and through both BCS and WCA. Pray with me...
... that God would remind all in the BCS/WCA communities of His unfailing love Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14
... that God would empower us as parents, teachers, students and staff to love each other This is my commandment that you love one another, just as I have loved you. John 15:12
... that God's love would shine in and through the BCS/WCA communities The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Galations 5:6
Soli Deo Gloria To God alone be the glory
~ Carrie Warner, BCS/WCA Prayer Team Coordinator