It is always heartwarming to see or hear the many expressions of love during this time of year. It is particularly fascinating to hear of those who sacrificially give of themselves for the public good but also are in committed relationships.
These are the ones who are driven to serve this present age -- not instead of, but in addition to serving those they love. Oftentimes, that translates into extended time away from home, missed special occasions and rearrangement of plans. Although sometimes painful for loved ones, there are no words to articulate the depths of love when people are able to submit to the mission and lifes purpose of the one they love.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon is best known for his extraordinary ministry and teachings, but he could also be hailed for the rich relationship he shared with his wife, Susannah Thompson. In her biography, Charles Ray recounts the couples courtship and marriage, highlighting the special love they shared.
The marriage begins with only a brief honeymoon because Spurgeon could not tear himself away from his work for very long. However, early in the marriage her zeal for ministry was on the same level as his -- two hearts beating for one purpose and calling.
There came a time when Spurgeons work created such absence from the home that Susannahs love and longing for him finally drove her to the point of tears. Ray records a moving exchange between the Spurgeons: Wifey, do you think that when any of the children of Israel brought a lamb to the Lords altar as an offering to him they stood and wept over it when they had seen it laid there?
When she replied in the negative, he tenderly added, Well, dont you see, you are giving me to God in letting me go to preach the Gospel to poor sinners, and do you think he likes to see you cry over your sacrifice?
According to Ray, Susannah said his sweet, gracious rebuke brought great comfort and peace.
Spurgeons work did not prevent him from affirming his love and devotion in writings to his wife: I knew I loved you very much before, but now I feel how necessary you are to me; and you will not lose much by my absence,if you find me, on my return, more attentive to your feelings, as well as equally affectionate.
This warm, passionate relationship is commonly described as being founded on pure love and cemented in mutual esteem.
Nothing seals a relationship like the merging of love and mission. This kind of relationship lasts a lifetime.
The Rev. Gail T. Smith is pastor of the Universal Light Christian Center in Macon.