It was a perfect, tranquil February day, and my 37th birthday was only two days away. I had just been on a morning walk and noticed that the tulips were already bursting forth around the farm with their signature yellow hue. My precious Granny’s mortal body was dying. I walked in to see her- not expecting any replies only to hold her hand and be near her. I was looking out the window by the hospital bed that she was lying in and telling her how pretty the family barn was even though it was quickly dilapidating. I was expressing to Granny how I wanted to “fix up” the barn. As I was talking and reminiscing about the good times growing up and playing in the barn, Granny rubbed her hands over mine. I had always loved the roughness, the scratchiness of the years of hard work as they rubbed over my younger, softer skin. That is when she said 7 words that I have never forgotten. She said, “I love you with an everlasting love.” I shook my head as in to tell her – “No, don’t say good-bye.” She simply just said, ” Listen I love you with an everlasting love.”
“the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”
Jeremiah 31:3 ESV
It has been over 10 years since I heard those words. Do I ? Did I ever know what that meant? Can people love with an everlasting love? I really doubted that at first, but I think so. One definition of everlasting is permanent or deathless. I still feel Granny’s love in the way I interact with indescribable joy with my grandchildren, with the manner in which I love my children and husband and look over our household, and even how I interact with my students, friends, and acquaintances on an everyday bases. I hear her saying, “You mustn’t do that.” I strive to live by the scriptures she quoted to me over and over like, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. For by doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Romans 12:20 ESV
” See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”Isaiah 43:19
Sadly, I never had the resources to fix the barn, but I was determined to be a good steward of what God had bestowed upon me. We had the barn torn down, but we did not let it go to waste. Just like God wastes nothing in us. On the contrary, we took the wood from that barn and created a new space by our pool to enjoy relationship and fellowship with friends and family. My son has used the wood to add an addition to another precious family home where he and his family live, and he and my daughter-in-law have used the wood to create a beautiful entertainment center that holds precious family photos. My sweet husband is in the process of building a farmhouse table with the precious, sentimental wood from that old barn full of memories of cousins and friends playing in the loft for hours on end. Generations to come will be able to sit around the table and “feast on God’s goodness,” not only nourishment for the body but love, laughter, and maybe even tears-which will be sweet nourishment for the heart and soul.
“They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.”Psalm 36:8
As I write this, my daddy’s sister, affectionately known as “Aunt Baye” is fighting covid-19 in a nursing home without us, those who love her so, as we cannot physically be by her side. But what peace it is to know God is there with her along with the precious memories of family and friends that fill her heart, mind, and soul.
Yes, I do believe that earthly love still exists when we pass from this life to the next, but an even greater truth is that God’s children are His beloved. In other words, we are His treasured friend, and He, the infinite One, lavishes His rich love on us as He pursues us day after waking day. 1 John 4:8 tells us that He is love, and He cannot lie. He draws us to Him in a covenant relationship and pours out his tender love to us, so that we can rest or abide in this assurance and just BE LOVED.
Even though Granny is not here with me on this side of Heaven, I really do still feel that special love. But better still is the indisputable fact that I have One who will never leave or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). So I continue on being loved and being filled with the fullness of God. I can rest alone in this cherished, rich love and grace.
“So, as those who have been chosen of God and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”Colossians 3:12