"He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face he was despised, and we did not esteem Him" (Isaiah 53:2-3).
We learn from an early age the fairy tale look at love. The couple running to each other through a meadow of wind-blown grain. The beautiful young bride in a wedding dress. The handsome young man in a dashing tux, complete with fashionable stubble and a confident smile. That is what the world teaches us about love.
My pastoral experience with love is much more like the passage I shared above. Jesus teaches us that the beauty of love isn't always pretty. Most often Biblical love is not very pretty. The Isaiah 53 passage uses words like despised, forsaken, sorrow, unattractive and difficult to look at. It is the face of a man who arrives just in time to stop a stoning of a young woman caught in adultery. It is a blind man seeing light for the first time through a blurred slurry of spit and mud. It is a nasty argument between Pharisees and Jesus as Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath. It is a tired family that sits with a mother who has just passed away. It is a woman sitting beside her husband as she sees the effect of the chemotherapy on his body. It is a grandparent struggling to lift the spirits of a son who has lost a child, all the while overcome with the grief of their loss. It is the tiredness of a Celebrate Recovery team as they hear of the relapse of one of their "sheep." It is a dying man on a cross saying "forgive them for they know not what they do." Those faces of love are tired, drawn, doubtful and sometimes crestfallen.
But let's look at a different perspective. The love in every situation I described above is stunning and beautiful to the forgiven woman, to the man with new sight, to the man healed on the Sabbath, to the family that sees past the struggle to eternal life for their mama, to the woman who knows God sits beside that bed with her, to the grandparent who knows the God who has also walked the road they are walking, to the CR team member who knows that God will never stop seeking that lost sheep and to all of us who see that cross as a "way out of no way" back to God. THAT face is beautiful. That face is the true face of love filled with struggle and eternal goodness. Randy