Life is not a holiday, but an education. And the one eternal lesson for us all is how better we can love.
Henry Drummond writes with power, conviction, and persuasion. Sometimes I get to the end of a paragraph and I stop, then I read it again. When he feels strongly about a statement he has written, he writes it again for emphasis of course.
At the end of my last post I quoted from such a paragraph and I am going to quote it in its entirety here:
“So much for the analysis of Love. Now the business of our lives is to have these things fitted into our characters. That is the supreme work to which we need to address ourselves in this world, to learn Love. Is life not full of opportunities for learning Love? Every man and woman every day has a thousand of them. The world is not a play-ground; it is a school-room. Life is not a holiday, but an education. And the one eternal lesson for us all is how better we can love. What makes a man a good cricketer? Practice. What makes a man a good artist, a good sculptor, a good musician? Practice. What makes a man a good linguist, a good stenographer? Practice. What makes a man a good man? Practice. Nothing else. There is nothing capricious about religion. We do not get the soul in different ways, under different laws, from those in which we get the body and the mind. If a man does not exercise his arm he develops no biceps muscle; and if a man does not exercise his soul, he acquires no muscle in his soul, no strength of character, no vigour of moral fibre, nor beauty of spiritual growth. Love is not a thing of enthusiastic emotion. It is a rich, strong, manly, vigorous expression of the whole round Christian character – the Christ-like nature in its fullest development. And the constituents of this great character are only to be built up by ceaseless practice.”
The paragraph to follow is equally important. I do not see how I can get around it. There is really no easier, softer way for us to develop in character and learn how to love without the creative tension that life offers us. Yes, it is an offering. We can either remain enslaved by fear and isolation and never change, even though our bodies may live on for decades, our souls will wither and die or we can as the saying goes ‘stay in the stream of life’ and be changed. Quite often the current is going to be rough waters and that is necessary for the rough edges of our rocky souls to be smoothed out. My friend Drummond has more to say about that –
“What was Christ doing in the carpenter’s shop? Practising. Though perfect, we read that He learned obedience, He increased in wisdom and in favour with God and man. Do not quarrel therefore with your lot in life. Do not complain of its never-ceasing cares, its petty environment, the vexations you have to stand, the small and sordid souls you have to live and work with. Above all, do not resent temptation; do not be perplexed because it seems thicken round you more and more, and ceases neither for effort not for agony nor prayer. that is the practice which God appoints you; and it is having its work in making you patient, and humble, and generous, and unselfish, and kind and courteous. Do not grudge the hand that is moulding the still too shapeless image within you. It is growing more beautiful though you see it not, and every touch of temptation may add to its perfection. Therefore keep in the midst of life. Do not isolate yourself. Be among men, and among things, and among troubles, and difficulties, and obstacles. You remember Goethe’s words: Es bildet ein Talent sich in der Stille, Doch ein Character in dem Strom der Welt, ‘Talent develops itself in solitude – the talent of prayer, of faith, of meditation, of seeing the unseen; Character grows in the stream of the world’s life. That chiefly is where men are to learn love.”
These couple of paragraphs are what I might describe as tough love. My working title for this post has been “Continued,” and this song has come up each time I have sat down to continue writing. And this line in particular “Will the Love continue when the walk becomes a crawl?” Love is a high calling, especially as it is described in 1Corinthians 13 for this ragamuffin. Sometimes I read the Scripture and Drummond’s words and think to myself, “I don’t have what it takes.” The truth is I don’t, but I do know Someone who is willing to love me, show me the Way, and enable me by His power to love.
If you are anything like me, sometimes you retreat. I want to escape from the realities of life because life is hard. Then I remember that life is a gift and that life is worth living when I learn to love. Drummond goes on to say that Love can not be defined and that Love is an effect. In other words, Love can not be manufactured. Try as we might, we are just not going to get it into our nature by shear will. This is not to say that there are not any people who are just naturally more loving, there certainly are, their disposition is just kinder than some of us. So, what is the secret to be able to love? What is the key? In my next blog I will talk about “The Cause” because every effect has a cause.