Love Transforms, Love Demands


Do you remember your first love?

Picture a sixteen-year-old girl. She’s walking home from school, her shoulders hunched, her eyes on the ground. She’s wearing dark, somber clothing. Her hair often goes unwashed. She rarely makes eye contact with anyone and doesn’t smile much. She doesn’t have many friends.

Fast forward four years. That same girl is wearing a flowing floral dress. Her head is high and her eyes sparkle. Her hair flows out behind her, gleaming in the sun as she runs across her neighbour’s lawn. He hardly recognizes her. “You’re in love,” he says. She laughs and admits that it’s true. And it has made all the difference.

Love does that. It transforms us, it makes us believe that life is good and worth living. It makes us believe we are worthy of being loved. Yes, the discovery of love, especially God’s love, transforms us.

And the Demands of Love work to continue that transformation. Love is never easy. People tend to be complicated and their lives are often messy. Loving well inevitably leads to the need for sacrifice and a selflessness that most of us resist. But we are called to love unconditionally, as Christ loved us. We are called to give much, because much has been given to us. Luke chapter 7: 36 to 47 teaches us this truth. Jesus was invited to have dinner with a Pharisee. A woman who, the Bible tells us, had “lived a sinful life,” arrived with a jar of perfume, poured it on Jesus’ feet and washed them, wiping them with her hair.

When the Pharisee saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

Then Jesus tells the Pharisee a story about two people who owed money to a moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both.

“Now which of them will love him more?” Jesus asked. Of course, the Pharisee said the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.

Then Jesus said to him, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little” (v. 43-47).

Have you been forgiven a little or a lot? I think we can all agree that it is the latter. Yes, we have been forgiven much, we have been given much, and we are expected to forgive, to love well, and give much in return.

Love transforms but love also demands.


Travel and What it Does to You


I have just returned from a 16 day trip across the Pacific Ocean. Being on open water for that long eventually gives you good sea legs but when you return you find you also have an inner ear that seems to insist that you are still bobbing and rolling along days after you have arrived on dry land.

Returning home also comes with the disorienting feeling that you’ve been away for months instead of days, while the “catching up” adds to the feeling that you really didn’t go anywhere at all. Somewhere in between all of that are the memories.

They cling tHawaian adornment (2)o you, images of tropical jungles and a variety of plant life that is stunning, smells that put you right back in the spot where you bent to sniff that flower, and sounds that make you stop and listen for those brightly coloured birds. Then you realize all of it is now far away and remains only in your mind. But the colours remain vibrant, the sounds crisp and clear.

And then there are the people – the woman you met who is likely making her last voyage on this earth; the tiny lady with exuberant energy who always wore a hat; the woman from India who remembered your name even though she had only met you once over a week ago; the American who kept bumping into you and saying, “oh yeah, you’re the writer;” and the girl from Indonesia whose smile lit up the whole room.

All of it aIao Mntn - Kuka'emoku Valley (14)dds up to an experience that changes you, a space of time that shifts your attitudes and makes you thankful for the life you lead and all that’s in it. I saw fish I could never have imagined existed and the largest Banyan tree in the world that spreads its roots and branches over an entire city block. I felt the steam of a volcano and the rough texture of the land its eruptions create. I laughed at jokes that really only make sense in another language and tried to twist my tongue to make those unfamiliar sounds.

Oh yes, there were a number of “first world problems” – internet access was almost non-existent, the living space was a little cramped and sometimes the coffee wasn’t really hot. But life was made more broad, enriched; opinions were challenged and sensations stimulated.

In short, I joined the ranks of the privileged and traveled. And I am thankful.

“Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them” (Psalm 111:2).