Choose your own love story
By Janel Breitenstein
We’re all suckers for a good love story. Even when the characters are, say, a couple of anthropomorphic animated trolls.
We don’t just dig the attraction, you-happen-to-be-exactly-the-stone-cold-fox-I-was-keening-for stuff. We listen to the top 40 for two hours, or watch a whole season (or nine) of shows, our spirits pressing the couple together through everything life or a team of writers can throw at them.
Whether it’s This is Us or Gru and Lucy, they’ve all got something in common: death to self. Sacrifice. Overcoming.
There’s some level of “Give up on this? Make me.”
Paul Miller, author of A Loving Life, believes any good love story (or story in general) follows the breathtaking pattern of the gospel. Like Jesus did, characters descend into some form of loss or death. “As we go downward into death, we are active: active in seeking humility, in taking the lower place, in mindless, hidden serving. This is the journey Jesus took.”
And in a good story, that descent is followed by a “resurrection”—a reality hands-down better than before. But resurrection isn’t something we can manufacture. We’ve just got to wait for it.
Perhaps love stories are compelling because they mirror the real Love Story that God is already playing out: His relentless pursuit. His bridging the gap. His restoring everything we ever lost.
It’s exactly what John says about the true-love test: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16).
Sometimes that death looks like throwing your arm around your mate as you drift off to sleep after an argument. Forgiving after something unspeakable. Deciding your mate will be more important than what’s between you.
In every story of true love played out around the world—every angry word held back or dirty sock picked up out of generosity—God is retelling His own love story.
How’s that for a happy ending?
The good stuff: In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him...Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:9,11)
Action points: Ligon Duncan has said, “People don’t fall out of love. They fall out of repentance and forgiveness.” What could be your next step toward the daily self-death (and hopefully resurrection!) in your love story?
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