Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love Costs More Than Roses

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake,
and remembers your sins no more.”
Isaiah 43: 25 (NIV)

The little dog is named Lily. She is a Maltese. Those are tiny white dogs; Lily is a three-pounder. She is no threat to your shin.

On the bright side, she does not shed. On the not-as-bright side, she cannot fetch the paper or, unless wear a size one-half, bring your slippers. Her little legs can’t last for a walk with you around the block.

Until Lily, I had never had what I call a “kick me” dog, one that follows you around inside as a fly follows potato salad at the church picnic. I am pro-dog, no question. But at first, I wasn’t sure Lily qualified. She is a dog as a Lab is a dog, but only in the same sense that a Little League field and Yankee Stadium are both ballparks.

Yet I love ’ol Lily. I do. She is loyal, friendly, always thrilled to see me. I have come to understand that her sole purpose is to show and receive affection. She does this well. The Maltese breed won’t beat up a burglar, but she’ll never refuse to sit in your lap if you’re feeling down, either. I am learning a lot from her.

Love is in the air today in the form of cards, candies, flowers. Lily will not know that. Every day is Valentine’s Day to her. She skipped romantic love (our money and the vet helped with that) and went straight to the kind of love that has no conditions. Love for love’s sake.

God puts love all around us. Maybe it is no stretch to say that He lets us see Him in the wind and rain, in the beauty of a person or a landscape, in the cry of a baby or in what passes for a bark from a Maltese.

But this love has a price. I have been convicted again, just recently, of the cost of His love for us, what it cost God to really go all the way in terms of satisfying both His perfect justice and His perfect love. I take this for granted. He never has. His example is a reminder that love, as He defines it -- as He IS -- is not cheap.

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.”
Isaiah 53: 4-5 (NIV)