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Religious Reflections

Surprised by love

Rev. Dr. Michael B Hughes

Several years ago, around Valentine's Day, I looked out of the front window and saw tire tracks in the snow. The person who delivered the newspaper in the early morning had driven up to the curb and then backed out to drive away in the direction opposite to which she drove in.

The result was that the tracks resembled two hearts side-by-side in the snow. It was for me a serendipity. A serendipity happens when you accidentally discover something good, a pleasant surprise. Researcher Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin when he went on vacation and forgot to wash some culture plates that had bacteria on them. When he returned, one had mold growing on it which had killed the harmful bacteria. Serendipity!

Love is often a serendipitous event as well. In the Rodgers and Hammerstein play, South Pacific, Emil sings about such a serendipity:

Some enchanted evening, someone may be laughing

You may hear her laughing across a crowded room

And night after night, as strange as it seems

The sound of her laughter will sing in your dreams

Who can explain it, who can tell you why

Fools give you reasons, wise men never try

Some enchanted evening, when you find your true love

When you feel her call you across a crowded room

Then fly to her side and make her your own

Or all through your life you may dream all alone

I remember making that discovery - seeing a young woman, a freshman, at a college club meeting nearly 40 years ago. I watched her at the weekly meetings to see how she interacted with other people in order to see if what I thought I saw in her really was in her. I made the discovery of love before I ever asked her out. By the third date I was convinced that she was the one and there on the dimly lighted bridge over the lake at the college, I asked her to marry me.

If I thought I was surprised by love, she was even more surprised! Fortunately for me, it was a very pleasant surprise for her. However, she said she needed more time.

Some people may think that serendipities happen only to other people. But, one serendipity has happened to all of us. It is recounted in that famous verse from the Bible, John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

The surprise is that God loves us. When we see how often we behave in a manner that displays selfishness, envy, greed, hatred and lust, it is hard to believe that a perfect God can love us. But the Bible is emphatic about this message. In Romans 5:8 we find this message of God's love underscored: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Who can explain it? Who can tell you why? We cannot.

But the Bible says God chooses to love us so much that Jesus died to pay the penalty for our misdeeds, for our sins. He continues to love us and seeks for us to return that love to Him.

Serendipties need to be followed up on. After I had confessed my love to Linda, she said she needed more time. So began my campaign to win her love. She soon said "Yes" to my request for her love. Two and a half years after meeting, we were married.

God has declared his love for us in Christ and, even now, He seeks to win us over to His side. Have you said "Yes" to Him yet? The time when Christ comes again is described in Scripture as like the groom coming for his bride.

Will you be ready for the wedding?

- Rev. Dr. Michael B. Hughes is pastor of the First Baptist Church of Sunnyside.

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