Monday, January 27, 2014

Love Story

There was once a man who fell deeply in love with a woman.  He did everything possible to show her his love.  He lavished her with gifts; he selflessly served her.  It delighted him to show his love to her, and he did so without inhibition.  She loved him too, but not with the same delight or passion.

Her infidelity started small, with thoughts of being with other people, thoughts of doing things she knew he wouldn't like.  Slowly, these thoughts turned into actions, until she was openly and unashamedly sleeping with other people.  He should have left her, but he couldn't.  He loved her too much.  He continued to plea with her to come back, and she continued to ignore him.  Years passed, and even as he watched her life waste away, as he watched her beauty fade into the ashes of what used to be, he continued to love her.  Love unrequited, love unconditional.

Eventually, she did come back.  Dirty, used, dressed in rags, she came back, expecting to have to beg, but finding his arms were still open, and his passion was the same now as it had been when she was young and beautiful and pure.  Finally, she understood the depth of the love she'd scoffed at all these years.  She'd been so stupid, but it didn't matter.  They were together now.

But the years she'd spent without him had left their mark on her.  She was dying.  Just when she was finally ready to give herself to the man who loved her, the consequences of her choices were taking her away again.  But he found a loop-hole.  The disease she'd contracted was unique; it was possible for the disease to be drawn from her body and injected into another person's, but only if there was a willing person.  A willing sacrifice.

He was gone before she fully realized what he was doing.  She should have known, but she couldn't have.  It had never been done; that kind of love simply wasn't heard of.  As she watched his life being drained from his body the way it should have been drained from hers, she wept.  His last words to her were that he forgave her; he knew she hadn't known what she was doing.

This is where the story gets crazy.  As she prepared to live the rest of her life without him, she began to see him in places.  She thought he was a ghost at first, thought she was going insane.  But eventually, he came close enough to talk with her.  She held his hand, touched his side, and knew that he was real.  It hadn't been enough for him to die so that she could live.  That would have been a temporary fix, but it would have all been for nothing if he couldn't be with her.  Somehow, he'd found a way to come back from the disease that had taken his life.  Impossibly, he'd found a way to be with her again.  And this time, the disease was gone, the threat of death was gone, and they could be together forever.

I've fallen in love with this story as I've told it to Asher in bits and pieces over the last year.  No, I'm not reading him Nicholas Sparks novels, and NO, I am not telling him vampire or zombie stories.  I'm just reading him the Bible.  You know, that crazy love story that's full of passion, and cheating, and coming back from the dead.  Oh, I read him the kid version, but even that is full of power!  Because you can't tame down this kind of love.

You also can't copy this kind of love, not really.  People try.  Take this whole trend over the last decade of vampires and zombies.  I just can't get into it.  At first, I thought it repelled me because it was just so out there, so unrealistic and crass and grotesque.  Mixing romance with death?  (Someone please enlighten me, what is so attractive about a white-faced vampire who literally wants to suck the life out of you?)  I just didn't get it.  But as I've familiarized myself with the story of Jesus and his bride (his bride is humanity; anyone who struggles to believe in Him), I've realized that there are a lot of the same themes in this story as there are in Twilight and all of its brothers and sisters.  In the Jesus love story, there is romance, and there is death, but prevailing over death there is LIFE.  And that is why the zombie and vampire thing can't hold me, because I've read the original story, and all of the copies out there are missing the best part.  I've tasted life and the overwhelming theme of death in these other stories leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.   

I am not writing this blog post to bash on pop culture or the vampire or zombie fad.  I don't care about them that much.  I was just honestly floored this morning by the raw, unabashed love of Jesus.  I've thought the "gospel" was boring, and have struggled to imagine myself excitedly sharing the story of Jesus with others, afraid that others will see it as irrelevant (maybe secretly believing it is irrelevant myself).  Little did I realize that everything "relevant" revolves around this story.  And the biggest reason for me to share it is that isn't that it's relevant, it's that I'm in it.

I'm the girl in that story.

So are you.