We Love With Poisonous Arms

I said, once, that love was God giving us something back.

As in, “everything else leaves in life and nothing really lasts, but when you love someone, it’s God giving you something to hold onto, saying – benevolently – ‘I know everything leaves you, but this is the thing you want most of all, and it’s yours forever.’”

Now, I said it to a girl that I wanted to like me, so I was being a little melodramatic (nothing new there.) But, I did believe it. Love is God giving us something back.

I know a very little better now. “Love is God giving us something back” is one of those things that sounds true. It’s a sweet thought for Christian lovers to whisper to each other, and it works nicely on a heart-dotted note. It’s wrong, however, as any life will attest. God, He only gives us sacrifices. Only gives us what we can give back to Him. He gives you a gift in one hand and fire in the other – “Will you burn this also, for my sake?” And, mark my words – as you love your life – burn it on the spot. Better to burn it yourself then to have God storm your gates and take it by force.

You could have had a sacrifice to the Almighty. Now you have nothing at all.

See the story of Abraham and Isaac (I don’t understand a word of this story. Not a word.) God gave Abraham the only thing he’d ever wanted, a bouncing baby boy, and then commanded him to strap his son down on top of a mountain and split his neck with a knife. Abraham obeyed and, what do you know, God called it at the last second. “Whew!” we all say, wiping our collective brows. “Playing it pretty close the chest there, God!” And Abraham. What did he think, then? Untying the boy, chuckling nervously, avoiding his son’s saucer-wide eyes.

We are not told what would have happened had Abraham refused God this request. We just don’t know.

Monstrous, maybe. But what else could God do? What is our love, or what are we, really, except beings who can’t love anything without destroying it too? Our love gets confused with possession and need. Our love gets confused with a roll in the hay. Our love gets confused with fear. Our love gets confused with hate.

We love with our emotions. We love with our tongues. We love with slip-shod bodies, jittering feelings, and buzzing brains. We wield love like fire hoses, like axes. We love with poisonous arms and time bomb hearts. We love without mercy. We love without knowing how. We love, and love, and love and the whole world has paid a terrible price for our loving so fiercely.

And God sees what we call love, and He knows what will happen if we don’t let go. He’s seen the horrors done for love of man, love of country, love of His own self. So, he gathers all your love together in one place, sets the kindling, strikes the match. And you wake up and see yourself burning alive, muscles melting and tendons snapping, while He stands over you. And you scream “No, no, no! All that I ever loved! Stop! Stop it!”

But it won’t stop. He won’t stop. “Narrow is the road,” Jesus says about Heaven, and that’s true. It’s a narrow road with a narrow door, and if you’re going to fit then everything else is going to burn away. He’ll strip you down to yourself. The ancients had the right idea. If there is a right way to love God, it is sacrifice.

Love’s a destructive force – we all know that. We use it wrong, we end up destroying what we love most (there are no exceptions, really.) Only God can destroy the rest.

So, something different now: If you love something, give it away.

Leave a comment


  1. ecliptoid

     /  December 6, 2011

    I’m reminded of how, before marriage was considered a holy institution, weddings were not allowed to take place within churches. Marriage wasn’t always a sacrament in the Catholic church, and the wedding ceremony was little more than a blessing to prove that a couple’s pledging themselves to one another wasn’t completely filthy in the eyes of God.

  2. That was so beautiful and exactly what I needed to read today…THANK YOU!!!

  3. carolina

     /  December 14, 2011

    this was so great.

  4. Lauren

     /  February 29, 2012

    this article is exactly what i’m wresting with this lenten season – trying to figure out how to become more of the person God intends me to be by walking away from the things i “love”in life and walking into those places that truly bring life. thanks for the great words.

  5. rachel

     /  December 17, 2013

    wonderful, you have a great talent!


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