Love is a Gift With no Strings Attached

Love is a Gift With no Strings Attached

When the receiving of love has strings attached, then is it really love? Love is a Gift With no Strings Attached.

In many of the gardens i visit they have garden hoses and for the last few years many gardeners have been installing retractable hose reels.

They are quite a clever invention. Inside is a giant spring that tightens as you pull the hose out. Once extended, a clamp comes down over the hose and stops it from retracting. When you have finished with the hose, you simply pull the hose, the clamp releases and the spring pulls the hose back into the holder.

Personally, I don’t like them. I’ve never seen one that lasts for any great length of time. The spring either dies, or the hose perishes, and then it’s off to the landfill.

I’ve been trying to think of a metaphor for the phrase ‘having strings attached’.

I think it is like a garden hose being pulled out to deliver water somewhere in the garden. But you know there is a giant spring coiled up, ready to pull it back in at a moment’s notice.

There is a string, or in this case a coiled spring, attached that is ready to pull it back in. Withdraw it away.

What’s your experience of love?

Is God’s love like this to you?

You’re there wanting and needing it in all your flawed humanity. But in the back of your mind, you’re just waiting for the hose to be pulled away fast.

Why be vulnerable and open when your vulnerability could be starved and even shamed at any moment? Best to shut the heart up and go it alone.

Three core needs I believe we all have.

  • To be Held
  • To be Known
  • To be Loved

What’s Agape got to do with it?

If out of that garden hose flowed water that quenched every dry arid place of your heart, then that water would be called love and, in particular, agape love.

It is the purest form of love that there is. No impurities. It is God’s love.

Agape love is described in this way by Paul. A human like ourselves whose heart was as arid as a desert.

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t agape love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t agape love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t agape love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without agape love.

Love (agape) never gives up.
Love (agape) cares more for others than for self.
Love (agape) doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love (agape) doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Agape Love never dies.

Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, agape love extravagantly. And the best of the three is agape love. 1 Corinthians 13

Is my love like that? No, far from it.

Am I pursuing that form of love and hoping that I can be a conduit for that type of water? Yes!

It’s beyond my human ability to flow like that without some supernatural help.

Supernatural goals need supernatural resources. Dr. Larry Crabb.

Love is a gift with no strings attached.

The purest form of love has no strings of compliance attached to it. It can never be withdrawn.

Love, in its purest form, welcomes in stray dogs and gives them not just a home but a family. No strings attached.

God’s love is like that.

I will love like that to the best of my human capability.

Will I self-protect against people who treat this love with disdain and contempt? Yes, I will. Turning the other cheek is not an invitation to tolerate abuse.

Turning the other cheek is an act of shaming the supposedly wise in the world, to bring them back (repentance) into God’s perfect agape love.

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise;
God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
G
od chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are. 1 Corinthians 1:26-28

Love them anyway

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind,
people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful,
you will win some false friends and some true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you.
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building,
someone could destroy overnight.
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness,
they may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough.
Give the best you’ve got anyway.

You see,
in the final analysis, it is between you and God ;
it was never between you and them anyway. Mother Teresa

I will add another line.

People may bind you up with strings attached.
Love them anyway.

Quotes to consider

  • Can we imagine what it would be like to so move and excite the heart of God that He would run to meet us, throw His arms around us and kiss us, dress us in His best robe, and put rings on our fingers? Can we picture the Lord Almighty killing the fattened calf for us and throwing a big party in our honor? Can we imagine having the Creator of the universe say to us, just as He said to Jesus Christ, “You are My beloved Son, and I like you” (Mark 1:11)? Mike Mason. The Gospel According to Job
  • To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.
    If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.
    Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.
    But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change.
    It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
    C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves
  • Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21 
  • There is a love that sincerely seeks the spiritual good of others, and there is a love that is seeking superiority, admiration, and control for itself, even and most especially by doing “good” and heroic things. Richard Rohr. Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps 
  • Where there is great love there is always miracles. Willa Cather
  • Love wins over guilt any day. Richard Rohr When Things Fall Apart
  • Love acts like a giant magnet that pulls out of us, like iron filings, every recorded injury, every scar. Terrence Real.

Questions to consider

  1. What is it like to have a source of love coming from a retractable hose? What feelings does it generate in you?
  2. What would it be like to receive a constant flow of love to you with a ‘no strings attached’ of performance measured against you?
  3. To ‘Agape’ love someone is probably one of the greatest challenges we have. Why is that?

Formation Exercise

  • What would it be like to sit under a non-retractable hose of pure pure love? Write about this.

Further reading

A Love That Crosses A Line

To ‘Turn the other cheek’ mean I have to keep taking abuse?

The most Dangerous Word in the World can Transform your Mental Health

 

Barry Pearman

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

GET SOME FREE BOOKS, A COURSE, AND A WEEKLY EMAIL WITH HELP FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH AND FAITH

Only one email a week I Promise

Check your Inbox for an email from me. Check your spam folder too