Perennial Love

SPRING brings renewal. I see it in my garden when I lift off the hay that's kept it protected through the winter. Among brown and withered stalks--remains of last year's growth-- appear fresh green stems and leaves. The new foliage is a promise of perennial beauty.Is it possible for love between a husband and wife to be perennial also? Can it last through life's many seasons and harsh challenges? Yes, if that love has a spiritual foundation. Affection that's derived from God, who is divine Love, is lasting. It includes unselfishness, gentleness, and trust. Sensual attraction or personal appeal, on the other hand, soon fades. These counterfeits of genuine love bring with them such undesirable elements as willfulness, possessiveness, and duplicity. The Scriptures tell us about the nature of Deity as divine Love. God, divine Spirit, cherishes man with a love that is infinite and eternal. As Jeremiah writes, "The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Man is actually God's expression. We are not simply material beings with finite, mortal minds. Man's individual nature is spiritual; he reflects the attributes of divine Love. We perceive this nature--our genuine identity--with our spiritual sense, our God-given ability to know the things of divine Spirit. Even when we seem to be unaware of our spiritual, Godlike nature, the fact remains that man is the offspring of Love, made in God's own image. As we joyously accept this fact and look for ways to live it, we discover more of what we truly are. Gradually the power of divine Love becomes more evident in our thought and experience. We may, for instance, be kinder than ever before. In the process of renewing marital affections, we need to reject the worldliness that would undermine our efforts. Don't we hear all around us the claim that infidelity and dishonesty will bring more happiness than spiritually based affection? We need to recognize these temptations for what they are: fraudulent lies. Only divine Love--and actions that honor the moral law--bring genuine happiness. When we feel pressured by worldly influences, we can find strength by turning to God in prayer. This Christian prayer may be a simple psalm of praise, thanking God for good. It may be a reasoned argument, affirming our native innocence as the offspring of divine Spirit. Our prayer might take form in words; or it might be a silent, spiritual yearning. No matter how we reach out to God, we'll gain moral courage through the awakened grasp of Love's presence that prayer brings. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, understood that fidelity is essential to a marriage that lasts. In the chapter "Marriage in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she writes: "Both sexes should be loving, pure, tender, and strong. The attraction between native qualities will be perpetual only as it is pure and true, bringing sweet seasons of renewal like the returning spring. The more we strive to honor God in our daily lives, the steadier will be our marriages. Difficult times will provide opportunities to draw on the spiritual reserves of patience, compassion, and forgiveness that God supplies each of His children. And as we confidently depend on God's care, we'll find renewal in our ever-new understanding of divine Love. Spring is really a season of the heart. It comes at any season when we draw closer to God through prayer and Christian discipleship. It blossoms when bonds of human affection are nourished in the warmth of God's love.

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