passionate and enduring

     I had a good friend from college come through town a while back. I hadn't seen Stefan for a few years, but we had maintained contact. Still, there was a lot of catching up to do, a lot of the usual questions: "How's the weather out there?" "How old are we?!" "What's grad school like for you?" The usual stuff. But even while we were talking about those mundane things, I knew that there was something big we were going to end up talking about sooner or later: Stefan's divorce.

     He and his wife met through mutual friends and quickly became close friends themselves, eventually falling in love. They had a huge extravagant wedding-- beautiful, actually. There was nothing to indicate that only a couple years later they'd be separated, filing for a divorce to end their marriage.

     Stefan told me that it wasn't too big of a surprise for him. They'd each had a rough year and it was hard on their marriage. And, he said, they had mentioned from time to time the possibility of divorce, but always in a "but-we-wouldn't-do-that" sort of way. In fact, they were in counseling, trying to work through it. But one day his wife told him, "I want a divorce." And he agreed. And that was the end.

     It was such a painful story to hear him tell. I'm married and the thought of a divorce is really scary. And I could hear the pain in his voice. Divorce was not what he was hoping for, it wasn't what he dreamed about when he proposed, or when they got married, or on their honeymoon. He was hoping for forever, not this.

     It's not what any of us ever hope for, is it? Nobody wants to see their relationship split apart and broken up. The song says (a little too cheerily) that "breaking up is hard to do." Gimme a break! Breaking up is horrible to do. Full of mixed up feelings, regrets, sadness, loneliness, a sense of loss. And an abiding disappointment: This was not what I signed up for....

     What we're looking for -- all of us -- is a love that will last. And it's hard to find. We endure so many broken relationships in our own families, so many franctured friendships, so many romantic failures and painful breakups. And yet, despite the difficulties, we keep searching for the love that will stand the test of time, a love that is both passionate and enduring. There's really only one place to find a love like that.

     There's an ancient and well-known text in the Bible, the testimony of God's friend Jeremiah: "The LORD appeared to us . . . saying, 'I have loved youwith an everlasting love; I have drawn you with lovingkindness." (Jeremiah 31:3) Today you can rest in the knowledge that God has a forever love for you, and it's the same yesterday, today, and forever, a love both passionate and enduring.