“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7, NKJV).

Watching with interest at the birthday party, everyone was festive, celebrating and enjoying the fun. The candles were lit and while singing “Happy Birthday,” the birthday girl blew out the candles. With great care and intent, smiling and feeling good, she cut her chocolate cake and handed a piece to her right, then across the table twice. Silently, a little one, observing all this, slid her plate toward the birthday girl with eyes that said, “How about me? I want some cake, too?”

Isn’t it easier to go for the cake than to suffer long? Isn’t it easier to reach for recognition and say, “How about me?”

Love is not hard. It’s damn hard! Especially when there are people who are bent on not loving me. Sometimes to love as God loves has consequences too heavy to bear. More than risky, real agape love makes me more vulnerable than I wish to be. The easy way means never taking the risk, living like a sentry presiding over silent graveyard bones as each dawn and dusk seduces me. God’s love asks of me to be obedient first to Him before self.

But, I like myself.

Paul has described God’s love perfectly. I failed his test today, at least twice, but then, the day hasn’t ended. Who can love like God?

A funny thing happened reading this passage. Never do I possess these qualities at one time. Some I claim part-time because I wish to gain something I want, but never naturally. Taking Paul’s passage to heart, I see how inferior, unenduring and unworthy I am in God’s presence. I see how separate and un-Godlike I am. And I know a few others like me. I’ve never met a saint.

Life is full of chocolate cake, expedient pleasures absent a demand to suffer long. Why should I strive to be obedient, to love as the commandment asks when chocolate cake tastes so much better and more available just by pushing my plate over?

I’ve often wondered how to love as Jesus loved. When patience whittles away, cake tastes good, rudeness gets what I want and comfort is just a reach away, how Christ-like am I then?

How can I love as my Lord? Do I love like the turning tables Jesus, the rebuking Jesus, the weeping Jesus, the devoted friend Jesus, the “don’t live by the sword” Jesus or the turning cheek Jesus? I remain confused. Love is hard, damn hard.

No wonder love is hard. Cake is so much easier.

Cake anyone?

“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15, NKJV).

Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for more than 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton. Contact him at pgadeacon@gmail.com.

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