1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Her grandparents were born in Sweden. She had the typical Scandinavian look - Long blond hair, blue eyes, long slender legs, soft blemish-free skin, high cheek bones. She was gorgeous - she was beautiful.
In fact, a professional international photographer in her hometown thought she was so pretty that he used a photograph of her to advertise his business.
But that was not her real beauty. She was raised by some wonderful Christian parents and had become a Christian at an early age. Integrity, honesty and sweetness were just a few of her characteristics. In fact, at her engagement party, her sister, who knew her better than anyone, said that she had never heard her tell a lie. All of her friends said the same thing about her: She was the sweetest girl they knew. She would never speak a harsh word about anyone. Everyone loved to be around her.
A young man she met in her freshman year started dating her and fell in love with her - both her exterior photographic beauty and the wonderful godly character of her inward beauty. She fell in love with him and they spent every free moment they could with each other over the next four years. They were committed to each other and they believed in waiting long before the True Love Waits Campaign ever existed.
One week after they graduated from college, they got married. They loved each other's company. They would walk together, exercise together, go on bike rides together, chaperon youth trips together - go to movies, watch TV, eat pizza, travel - all the things any normal couple would love to do together. They were so much in love.
She taught school for a year and then became a bookkeeper for a surgical supply company. One day while she was working, for no apparent reason she lost her balance and fell on the floor. She was later able to get up and went to see a doctor that night. He set her up to see a Neurologist. The following day, it happened again. For no apparent reason, she lost her balance and fell. This time, though, she couldn't get up. She had lost all feeling in her legs. They wouldn't move. Her husband had to come to the office and picked her up in his arms and carried her to the hospital. After six days in the hospital, the doctor gave this beautiful, active young lady the dreadful news. She had Multiple Sclerosis and she would continue to deteriorate.
This young couple, who had now been married only 18 months - who loved to go everywhere together and do everything together - would now face some new challenges. All their future plans would change, everyday life would change. They would change.
For the next 20 years, this young lady did deteriorate. She had to take steroids (not the kind athletes use), but anti-inflammatory steroids. Her bones became brittle, breaking easily. Her face became puffy and bloated and she could not even put on make-up. Her body was a mess. She went from a walker, to a scooter, to a wheelchair. She could no longer feed herself, write her name, or control her own bodily functions. She now had to have someone stay with her 24 hours a day.
Folks, if that couple had not had the kind of committed love that's based first on a personal relationship and a commitment to Jesus Christ, and second on a love that's based on a commitment to each other, the marriage never would have lasted. In fact, most of the marriages where a spouse has MS, the other spouse leaves them. The other spouse won't stay committed to the constant care and the continual physical, psychological and mental changes that continue to occur.
Hear me carefully, folks, those two people are not heroes. They are not super saints or super Christians. They will be the first to tell you that they are not super Christians. Those two people are normal, ordinary people, empowered by the Love of God and a love for each other, doing what the world considers beyond normal and extraordinary. I know that for a fact. Because that woman, that beautiful young lady who will never walk again, who can't even feed herself, is Lynda Langerfeld - my wife. She's not a hero - I'm certainly not a hero. We're just children of God, doing what the children of God are supposed to do. Doing what His children are called to do. Doing what God expects of every man and every woman who make a vow before God on their wedding day.
Several years ago, there was a film sweeping the nation by storm, about the disaster surrounding the maiden voyage of the Titanic. There is a beautiful story painted about a man who goes down with the ship out of a love for his wife. In the world's eyes, he's a hero. In God's eyes, he's an ordinary man making an extraordinary sacrifice that every Christian who's committed to his spouse ought to make.
Sacrificial, Committed Love is the rule, not the exception. We're not super-saints, we're not heroes when we're being faithful and committed to our mates. We're just doing what God has called every husband and every wife to do since the beginning of time.
Dear Lord, thank You for example of love. We pray that we follow your example and love our spouse as you showed us to love. Also help us those around us so they see Your love through us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.