I sit on the sofa in the light of the lamp, and I pray through 1 Corinthians 13—you know, the famous love chapter that’s read at a lot of weddings. I tend not to like this chapter of the Bible. It always feels like an indictment of how far short of love I fall each day, each hour of each day.
But tonight, a reversal. An epiphany: this passage is not about me at all. It’s about God.
For if God is love (and the Apostle John assures me this is so), I can substitute the word God for the word love in this passage…in which case it reads:
God is patient. God is kind…God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects…always hopes, always perseveres. God never fails.”
God is love. Love for me. Love for you.
I confess I have this angry God image in my mind, in my heart. God seems to be watching me through narrowed eyes, waiting for me to mess up so he can pounce on me. God, in my knee-jerk reaction to myself and my sin, is like a cosmic Mrs. Moore, my sharp-tongued junior high clarinet teacher from whom I literally hid in fear, crouching behind the sheet music stacks in the store where she conducted her lessons so she would not see me and call me in to her little cell of a classroom.
But God, if 1 Corinthians 13 is to be trusted, is not like that at all. God is kind. God is not easily angered. God keeps no record of wrongs. God is not like Mrs. Moore. God is more like Miss McCreight, my elementary music teacher who did not dwell on all my squeaks and wrong notes, seeing that I was frustrated and embarrassed by them, by my inability to play well. Instead, she gently corrected me when I consistently misplayed a note and noticed with a smile or a word of praise when I hit the right ones.
Like Miss McCreight, God delights in goodness. God delights in me. As Zephaniah says, God rejoices over me with singing.
As I wrote those words above, about God’s love, Ben came out of his bedroom—he was crying; he’d had a bad dream—and crawled into my lap and now he sits, leaning against my chest, a living picture of how I can approach God—with confidence in his love, with assurance of his kindness, with trust that he will hold me and be glad that I have come to be held.