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  • Sonya Leigh Anderson

Hard Love


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Love in the New Testament—the compassionate commitment of the heart to delight in the soul of another and to will that person’s good ahead of your own, no matter the cost to yourself. (John Mark Comer, Live No Lies, p. 188)

Yikes.

The first time I remember openly acknowledging my own deficit in the ways of love, I was at a Newsboys concert. The original band. This would have been early 2000’s. We were with good friends, and to this day I remember that concert as being the most epic live performance I’ve ever experienced. Specifically I’m having a flashback of ticker tape raindrops falling surreally through a sports stadium filled with swaying believers, all of us together laying those burdens down.

The other thing I remember clearly, although not word-for-word, is a profound soliloquy from Peter Furler, which I’m sure is written out somewhere in one of the many journals I’ve kept from that particularly prolific era. The Newsboys then-lead-singer talked about “three things, that when you truly understand them, will radically transform your life.” (Or something to that effect.) In my memory, the three things being—

The mystery of the blood

The power of the Sprit

And the fellowship of believers.

This caught my attention, not only due to the obvious emotional impact of a performance pulling out all sorts of top-notch special effects stops—but because two of the three phrases resonated deeply within my recently-renewed soul. This had been my “season in God’s seminary” and by His grace I had somehow become immersed in what I suspected Furler meant by both the Mystery and the Power. But at the same time I remember wondering if there might be something about Fellowship I had yet to discover.

Fast forward to current.


I am nearing the finish-line to publication with a book that was birthed in the afore-mentioned era. And truth be told The Covenant Story could be boiled down to three distinct features. The mystery of the blood covenant. The new covenant power of the Holy Spirit. And last but not least, from beginning to end, the breathtaking story of LOVE.

The Covenant Story: Trusting the Love of a Faithful God

—is a love story.

Now, I will admit love and fellowship may be slightly nuanced. But when I read Comer’s definition, I must at the very least draw the conclusion that the two are in close cahoots. It would seem True Fellowship may have something to do with the strength of our love.

Insert Christine Caine: "There is only one love language; it’s called die to self.”

A hill I’m still trying to die on.

Yikes again. True love can be hard.

Of course, there is the easy variety of love. Take for example, my newest grandson, born last week—along with his two older siblings. It is quite easy to imagine myself applying Comer’s definition of love to Maisy, Nash and Baby Bo. That is—

To delight in the souls of these little ones and to will their good ahead of my own, no matter the cost to myself…

But to be totally transparent—for all my Nana-love for these precious littles, it might still depend on the actual cost to self.

And that is my easiest example. I shared Comer’s definition with my husband while lingering in bed the other morning, and he was admittedly instantly annoyed. He’d been grappling with a very specific example of “hard love” (not related to his wife) and he was struggling to wrap his mind around that word delight.

Turns out. Hard love is actually impossible.

It is impossible, and this in a nutshell is The Covenant Story. We actually need Jesus to do for us what we can’t possibly do ourselves. And top of the list is LOVE.

It’s not hard to imagine Jesus’ own “compassionate commitment of the heart to delight in the soul of another and to will that person’s good ahead of (His) own, no matter the cost to (him)self.”

Which is to say…True love is only and ever fully realized in Jesus—what He has done, and what He continues to do. Jesus died on the hill of love for me. For you. For my husband.

For every hard love.

From The Covenant Story:

This whole story—from garden to exile, from death to resurrection, from then till now and beyond—hinges on the one thing that will never quit. The persevering, never-ending, fierce and furious hesed love of our devoted God. God loves. And now we who claim this new covenant find ourselves back in the most miraculous and unexpected place in this breathtaking story. We are as he is. We are his love.”

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