Doug Johnson: Love may be hard to define, but easy to recognize

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 21, 2021

A teenage girl returning home from a date, found her mother waiting up for her.

“Mom,” she said, sprawling in a chair, “how do you know if you’re really in love?”

Her mother smiled, walked over to the desk, pulled a weathered clipping out of the drawer, and handed it to her daughter.

It read: “True love is like two deep rivers that meet and merge, intertwining completely into one, and then flowing on together. The joys, happiness, and sorrows of each become the joys, happiness, and sorrows of the other. True love cannot be hurried but once unselfishly rooted, it will grow forever.”

Someone once joked, “Love doesn’t really make the world go around. It just makes people dizzy so it looks like it!”

Love is not just a funny feeling in your stomach; it’s a gift that you give to someone special in your life.

The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: “Love is patient and kind, love is not jealous, love does not push itself on anyone and isn’t proud, love doesn’t behave unseemly and isn’t selfish, love is not easily angered and thinks no evil; Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails.”

No matter what happens, true love will be there hoping for the best and holding on until the end. In short, love conquers all!

A good example of love in action is the Menninger Clinic in Houston, Texas.

The work of the Menninger Clinic is organized around love. From the top psychiatrist down to the electricians and caregivers, all contacts with patients must manifest love. And it was “love unlimited.” The result was that hospitalization time for some patients was cut in half.

Years ago, there was a woman who for three years sat in her rocking chair and never said a word to anyone.

When she was admitted to the clinic, the doctor called a nurse and said, “Mary, I’m giving you Mrs. Brown as your patient.

All I’m asking you to do is to love her till she gets well.”

The nurse tried it. She got a rocking chair of the same kind as Mrs. Brown’s, sat alongside her, and loved her morning, noon, and night.

The third day the patient spoke and in a week, she was out of her shel l— and well! That’s the power of love.

In Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, the central character, Raskolnikov, finally confessed his crime and was sent to Siberia.

Sonya, the girl who loved him, followed voluntarily and found a job in a town nearest his work camp.

At first, Raskolnikov was bitter about his exile and contemptuous of everyone, including Sonya.

But the day came when her unflagging love and humble service melted his heart, and he loved her in return.

Dostoyevsky writes, “They were renewed by love; the heart of each held infinite resources of life for the heart of the other.

They had another seven years to wait, and what terrible suffering and infinite happiness before them! But he had risen again, and he knew it and felt it in his being, while she — she lived only in his life. Seven years, only seven years!”

The greatest definition of love is found in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

This month, as we turn our hearts toward our ‘sweethearts,’ let us not forget that true love is always unconditional and free!

Rev. Doug Johnson is the senior pastor at Raven Assembly of God in Raven, Virginia.