#loveneverfails

Almost 2 years ago my friend Pam found out about a bunch of guys in a prison work release program. At the end of a very long day, typically filled with some kind of manual labor, they found themselves congregating at a bus stop waiting to be taken back to their center.

She asked me if I thought she was crazy because she was feeling like she was supposed to take them water and something to eat at the end of the day. (I was thinking yes, you're crazy and that's why we're friends!)

So week in and week out on Thursday nights in scorching temps, thunderstorms and freezing weather, food and drinks have been shared along with hope and unconditional love.

Valentines Day is in a few days and I woke up on Thursday with the thought to make cards for the guys.

It's kind of funny, because I've never really been a big Valentines Day person. But, I wanted to make sure they knew they were not forgotten and that they are loved.

We've never showed up and preached a sermon to these guys. We have shared food and encouragement and trusted God with any conversations that take place.

I'll admit I had to push through my own awkward feelings at times. I didn't want to just hand the guys a card. I wanted them to hear the words...

"we are thinking about you and you are loved."

It really is amazing what love will do! I was surprised that I could physically see how meaningful this simple gesture ended up being in these grown men. For some, it was a genuine smile and thank you from a guy that had never really looked us in the eyes.

For others, it was heart felt words of gratefulness for the only expression of love they would be receiving this Valentines Day.

Love is looking into someones eyes and saying I see you...

you matter...

and you are loved.

This kind of love breaks down walls...

opens hearts...

and brings healing.

This is what God does for us.

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God's word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but don't have love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe,and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.

Love cares more for others than for self.

Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.

Love doesn't strut,

Doesn't have a swelled head,

Doesn't force itself on others,

Isn't always "me first,"

Doesn't fly off the handle,

Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,

Doesn't revel when others grovel,

Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

Puts up with anything,

Trust God always,

Always looks for the best,

Never looks back,

But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tougues will end; understanding will reach it's limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

1 Corinthians 13 {The Message Version}