I was talking to a friend the other day about how terrifying this world can be. She agreed and then said something I’ve been thinking about ever since: “I wonder if every decision we make is motivated by either fear or love.”
Love in any form is risky. But when you love a pint-sized human being, you begin to realize just how vulnerable your heart is and how little control you have. You would step in the path of a raging mountain lion for this little person; you would take a bullet headed their way; you would jump into the rapids to save them . . . and yet there are approximately 79 ways they could die before breakfast. And that’s to say nothing of the ways they could rebel against you or reject everything you hold dear or otherwise break your heart.
To the pragmatic mind, love seems like a fool’s choice. Surely the risk is too great, especially when there’s no guarantee about the outcome. If our decision is based on fear, we’ll never put our hearts out there to get trampled. But if our decision is motivated by love, we will have the courage to make the scary, risky leap of love.
Mercifully, we have a God who didn’t just command us to love; he took the risk of love himself. Madeleine L’Engle captures this idea of love incarnate in her poem “The Risk of Birth.”
This is no time for a child to be born,
With the earth betrayed by war and hate
And a comet slashing the sky to warn
That time runs out and the sun burns late.
That was no time for a child to born,
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honour and truth were trampled by scorn—
Yet here did the Saviour make his home.
When is the time for love to be born?Madeleine L’Engle
The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by a comet the sky is torn—
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.
Bringing love of any kind into the world is fraught with risk. Hurricanes strike. Bombs drop. Cars crash. Doctors bear bad news. The world shifts under our feet. When is the time for love to be born?
So I guess it comes down to this: Don’t wait for the conditions to be right. Take the risk of love. Take the risk of birth. If God himself became love incarnate when it was no time for a child to be born, then we, too, can love . . . even when the timing is all wrong.