Glorifying God devotions by Pastor Chris Chia
My eldest sister, Toshie , and her Japanese husband came to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary with us recently.
50 years of marriage is no small feat. It is an even greater milestone in our increasingly commitment-deprived world. This, being Valentine’s Day, allow me to indulge in their love story.
Their love story is inspiring. They fell in love at a time when Chinese and Japanese folk were not supposed to. It was 1965, barely 20 years after the end of World War 2 where 50 million had died in the mother of all wars.
So, it was not just taboo but deep treachery for Toshie to fall in love with, let alone marry, a former enemy of her people.
But, fall head over heels in love she did with Yoshihiro. He was this handsome and polite young engineer sent by his company, NEC, to set up the TV stations in our small town and all over Malaysia.
He was looking for a tutor to give him lessons in English. She was an English teacher in our town’s only school.
It was a perfect match, from the start, not just of teacher and student but of husband and wife. Yet, it was always going to an impossible love – to love someone who everyone in your race, nation and town is committed to hate.
Yoshi’s project TV station project was completed in good time and he had to return to Japan. Their courtship would now have to be “love by post”, as if they did not have enough troubles.
I was barely 6 at that time. My greatest excitement then, as her youngest brother, was smuggling their love letters past my parents.
My unforgettable memory of this period was of Toshie doggedly learning Japanese through radio. It was tedious and agonisingly slow.
Yet, against all odds their love blossomed. Finally, she had to make the heart breaking choice between her love for her parents and for her future life-partner.
I can remember how the whole family gathered for those final meetings – she pleading for parental blessing to go to Japan to marry him and my parents begging her not to.
That time was filled with the unbearable sadness of having to choose to pay the costly price of true love.
She left. She arrived in Japan. He was not there to welcome her at the airport! Had she made the greatest mistake of her life? Had he changed his mind? Found someone else?
A stranger she met on the plane very kindly helped her track down where Yoshi worked. This was like a needle haystack in those days without internet as NEC had about 4000 employees.
By divine providence, she found him!
The reason he did not turn up at the airport was that he never received the letters which said she had decided to leave home and was coming to Japan to marry him. How (Korean) drama can you get … in real life?
So, here they are 50 years on – “for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health till death do them part”.
All good love stories are but a small glimpse of God’s costly love for us. 1 John 4:9 declares this: “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world that we might live through him.”
The Cross of Jesus is the unbearable sadness and unspeakable joy of paying the ultimate price of true love. It is only by grasping this costly love – by faith in Jesus – are we empowered to pay the price of faithful love in our lives.
In John’s letter, he faced the sadness of people professing to be true believers because they claimed they had more knowledge of God.
John corrects them. The measure of a true disciple is not merely how much we know but how deeply we love from what we know of God.
There is a new dangerous tolerance in the church, as there is in the world. Whenever we come to a hurdle of love – be it in marriage, family, church, work, life – we end the relationship.
In short, we quit on love too easily. We move onto the next relationship, marriage, job, church and country.
Here is the burning question: “we move on physically or geographically but have we moved forward spiritually to grow in Jesus’ costly love?”
One of the hit songs by the group, Bread, of my generation had this cynical lyric: “people change their partners in life like changing their underwear”.
We used to laugh at that line whenever we sang it. But, in real life, it is no laughing matter when we substitute costly staying love for cheap love that quits and walks away.
I am flesh and blood like you. There have come very painful moments in my personal and pastoral life, like you, when everything within me cried: “Quit, walk away, move on.”
The fact that we can stay one more day and persevere in the things of God is living proof of the saving and staying power of Jesus’ love.
It is the deepest love for shallow people like us. Lean on Jesus and we can experience this saving and liberating love for God and his people.
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