To Love Is to Live

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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"I've loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you'll remain intimately at home in my love. That's what I've done—kept my Father's commands and made myself at home in his love. I've told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you."
John 15:9-14 (The Message)

A nine-year-old girl had lost both kidneys and desperately needed a transplant. The only match was her six-year-old brother. The parents sat their son down and explained to him that if he was willing to donate a kidney, he could save his sister’s life. The boy thought for a long time before agreeing, but he said yes. The next morning, as he lay on the gurney being wheeled into the operating room, the boy took hold of his parents’ hands. He said, “Mommy and Daddy, when do I die? Before they take my kidney out or after?”

To live is to choose.

Each day brings opportunities to choose for ill or good, and our choices determine the quality of our lives. Love is every bit as much a choice. To choose to love, in fact, is to live at the most fundamental and difficult level. Ask Martin Luther King. Or the King of Kings. They loved supremely and truly lived, and died as a result. But doesn’t it say somewhere that if one wants to truly live, one must die? And I always thought Jesus was speaking metaphorically.

Loving is hard work. It takes patience, for starters, and humility. It takes getting up at three o’clock in the morning. My wife and I just had our first baby, Arabelle Rose, and I’ve never been more confronted with my limitations as a human being. Belle has a habit, which I’m told is common to babies, of occasionally crying for no apparent reason. Is anything on the planet more confounding? Love is rocking a screaming baby to sleep for an hour in the middle of the night. Or holding a pet of ten years in your arms while the indignities of death take over. Or admitting that you’re wrong mid-argument. Or asking if you die before they remove the kidney or after.

Scott Peck once said, famously, that life is difficult. I say love is difficult. Or maybe they’re the same thing. To choose to love is to choose to live—no matter the cost—and to live well is to love deeply.