True Love

by Melissa Heiland

As I was walking on the beach one morning, I saw someone had written in the sand in bold letters for everyone to see, “I love Rachel.” This touched my heart and I thought wistfully, I wish someone would declare his love for me in such a public manner. The Lord quickly spoke to my spirit and reminded me, “ I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16 ESV). Oh, the love of the Lord, that He would engrave our names on His hands!

Everybody loves love. Most of us think of romantic love when we think of true love. The Hallmark Channel is a favorite because of its portrayal of love. Sweet woman meets strong guy and we know from the first scene that the story ends with a promise of forever and a kiss. Fairy tales often consist of the prince marrying a girl that no one had previously noticed, and they live happily ever after.

It is also very popular to talk about self-love. Programs that teach us how to love ourselves abound, assuring us that the most is important love is love of self.

Although these concepts have some appeal, they fall hopelessly short of true love. Happily ever after only happens in fairy tales. Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce and even healthy marriages have struggles and pain. And if I had to believe that the truest form of love came from myself, I would spend a lot of days very discouraged.

True love comes from our Heavenly Father to us. The love God has for us is perfect and unconditional. God’s love, unlike these other forms of love, is not dependent on my looks, my behavior, or my moods. God’s love is unending, without restriction. His love is pure.

God’s love is enormous, without bounds. Psalm 36:5 ESV says, “Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.”

Throughout the Bible, God’s love is described as steadfast. Steadfast means immovable, not subject to change, firm, or loyal. This is the love our hearts long for, a love that never ends regardless of circumstances. “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” (1 Chronicles 16:34 ESV).

God’s Word clearly tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God. We have all experienced the loss of love from someone who promised us forever. The pain is deep and can leave us afraid to trust again. But God’s love is unfailing. We find peace and comfort in His promise.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38, 39 ESV

Dependence on love from other people and even from ourselves can leave us feeling stressed and insecure. Hurts from our past arise in our minds causing us to doubt and fear. But when we put our hope and trust in the love of the Lord, we will never be disappointed. We will never be left wanting. Our longing for true love is only satisfied in our God. He is the only One who is unfailing, the only One who keeps every promise. Our hearts will be at peace as we rest in the love of the Father.

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17 ESV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Melissa Heiland is the Founder and President of Beautiful Feet International, a mission organization that plants pregnancy ministries around the world. She is an international speaker and author who is passionate about mommies, babies and sharing the Gospel. She has written devotionals for pregnant moms, new mothers and short-term mission teams, as well as a children’s book based on Psalm 139. She and her husband Ken have 6 children and 5 grandchildren.

Part devotional, part pregnancy journal, A Mother’s Journey has forty chapters that correspond with each week of pregnancy, offering comfort and spiritual guidance to those facing challenges. Each week’s reading includes Scripture verses and a journal prompt, as well as information about your baby’s development at various stages to help you get to know the little one growing inside you. A Mother’s Journey is a great resource to help you connect deeper with your baby, yourself, and your heavenly Father.

Join the conversation: Are you able to rest in the love of the Father?

Till Death Do Us Part

by Crystal Bowman

My parents were engaged when my dad was drafted into the army during World War II. When he received his overseas assignment, he hitchhiked home for a weekend so they could get married on a Sunday afternoon in the church parsonage. They kissed good-bye, then didn’t see each other for three-and-a-half years.

My father was not allowed to tell my mother where he was stationed. They didn’t have email, text messaging, Skype, or Zoom. The only way they could communicate was through letters, which were opened and read by military personnel and post office workers to protect sensitive information from being leaked to the “enemy aliens.”

My creative and clever father used a hidden code in his letters to my mom. The first letter of every paragraph spelled out his location. He used to joke that when he was stationed in New Caledonia, in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it was the longest letter he’d ever written!

When the war was over, my parents started their family of four children—all of us born in the baby-boom era. My dad started a construction company and built the house where I grew up. But here’s the thing: they always acted like teenagers in love. Of course, they didn’t agree on everything, but even when they didn’t, they treated each other with respect. My parents never raised their voices at each other, and I never heard them fight.

My children were grown when my dad passed away at the age of 85, and they all attended his funeral. Since he was a veteran, we witnessed the chilling and emotional military ceremony at the grave site. Military men dressed in crisp uniforms performed a rifle salute, played “Taps,” and folded the flag that draped my father’s coffin.

When one of my sons got married two years later, he gave a card to my mom. On the front was a picture of a bride and groom holding hands. Inside the card, he penned his own message. He wrote, “When we were at the cemetery, I watched you clutch Grandpa’s folded flag to your chest. As they lowered him into the ground, I had a clear understanding of ‘till death do us part.’ I want the kind of marriage like you and Grandpa had—the kind where true love lasts forever.

Everyone desires to love and be loved—it’s a basic human need. The Bible has a lot to say about love, because God defines love, and He is love. In Romans 5:8, the Apostle Paul writes, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (NIV).

In the Gospels, Jesus boils down the Ten Commandments into two: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27 NIV). And, in John 15:12, Jesus says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (NIV).

Whether it’s a spouse, child, parent, neighbor, sibling, friend, or stranger, we can demonstrate love to them by our words and actions. We can demonstrate love when we are willing to be inconvenienced to help someone else and when we put their needs ahead of our own. Though we will never be able to love as deeply as Jesus, we can ask God to let His light shine through us, so that others may be drawn to a love that lasts forever.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. –Romans 12:10 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advance Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids. She and her husband have three married children and eight huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: Have you seen a “love that lasts forever” modeled for you?