Love Is the Only Thing Worth Having

Love Is the Only Thing Worth Having

By Mark Davis Pickup

I have known now-retired Canadian Member of Parliament Ken Epp for over a quarter of a century. He is my friend. Ken’s beloved wife of more than fifty-eight years passed away on November 10th, 2019. Ken’s grief is palpable, just as it would be if I were put in his position and lost my wife of forty-seven years. He recently posted the following note on his Facebook page:

I was just going through some of Betty’s things and found this: A 3″x5″ card on which she had written, “Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.” (Mark Twain)

It brought tears to my eyes. God gave us 58+ years together. We knew this truth well!

Responding to someone’s comment, Ken wrote: 

I actually disagree on one small point with Mark Twain. He says it takes over 25 years to discover perfect love. In my view, it actually takes a lifetime. The idea is to love your spouse more today than you did yesterday. You never reach perfection. But I loved the journey with my dear Betty.

I responded to Ken: “In the end, love is the only thing worth having. It is the only thing we take with us when we die. You are my friend.”

I constantly marvel at how I love my wife more each day. Yesterday I thought it was impossible to love her any more than at that moment, and yet today my love for LaRee grows larger and more intense. 

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It’s impossible for human beings to know the depths of love’s possibilities. Our hearts can’t take in love’s potential all at once. We must be fed it, with growing capacity to receive it, in small increments, or our hearts could not bear it. Quite simply, our human hearts must be expanded to take insights and quantities of ever-expanding love (both human and divine). Jesus alluded to this when He told His disciples, “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”[1] Human hearts that are open to love must expand to receive love’s new revelations. It happens over time.

When writing about how the Christian’s heart longs for God, Saint Augustine (354-430 AD) spoke of the need to increase the human capacity to receive God’s love:

Suppose you were given some holder or container, and you know you will be given a large amount. Then you set about stretching your sack or wineskin or whatever it is. Why? Because you know the quantity you will have to put in it, and your eyes tell you there is not enough room. By stretching it, therefore, you increase the capacity of the sack, and this is how God deals with us. Simply by making us wait he increases our desire, which in turn enlarges the capacity of our soul, making it able to receive what is to be given to us.

What is it that God wants to give to us? His gift of love. God is love.[2] And He wants us to love him. Relationship. To deny God is to deny love. The love of a man and woman united in marriage should be just as Ken said. It grows more each day in a Christ-centered marriage. We are in a journey toward God’s perfect love, and each day our hearts are being prepared for new dimensions of romantic love. When I think of my love for LaRee today versus the love I had for her fifty years ago, our love is so much larger and more mature now. I could not have handled the immensity of today’s love back then. Perfection is only reached when we meet the Creator and essence of perfect love: God. 

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There are different kinds of love, and each has something to teach us about God’s character: romantic love, parental love, love of neighbour, love of friends, love of community and country. Ken Epp knows each kind of love, and his life attests to this fact. 

Throughout history there have been examples of people who were willing to die for each kind of love. Jesus said: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than to lay one life down for his friends.”[3] Millions of people have even died for an idea worth dying for (freedom or human equality).

For people like Ken and me and the romantic love of a spouse, our love for our wives grows each day. And this does not stop with death. Love continues. Our joy of romantic love here in this world grows, but the joy of God’s perfect love is too great for us to bear now. The love we experience here is preparing us for the completeness of love there. The heartbreak now will make sense then. I believe that with all my heart, Ken. My heart weeps with yours. You are my friend.

Mark Davis Pickup has lived with aggressive multiple sclerosis for over 36 years. Mark has spoken across the United States and Canada promoting the sanctity, dignity, and equality of all human life. He has addressed politicians and legislative committees (both Canadian and American), university forums, hospital medical staffs, religious and denominational leaders, community groups, and organizations about the critical importance of protecting all human life from conception to natural death. Mark is also a widely published writer on bioethical and Christian issues and has received numerous awards, including the Monsignor Bill Irwin Award for Ethical Excellence, the William Kurelek Award for fostering respect and appreciation for the dignity of human life (Canada), and a Governor General’s Medal for Community Service.

This article has been reprinted with permission and can be found at humanlifematters.org/2020/04/love-is-only-thing-worth-having.html.

[1] John 16.12

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[2] 1 John 4.16

[3] John 15.12-13. Cf. 1 John 3.11, Romans 12.9