Love as the Work of Years

Read: 1 Corinthians 13:4 & Galatians 4:4-5

I read Wendell Berry novels to learn that life is long and work is slow. Hannah Coulter is Nathan and Hannah’s long, slow story of love.

But what is a “love story,” really? Is it when people “fall” and didn’t see it coming? Is it what Hallmark says it is? Or is it more careful and slow and lasting?

In a chapter called The Room of Love, Hannah Coulter describes hers:

“It would be again like the coming of the rhymes in a song, a different song, a long song, the rhymes sometimes wide apart, but the rhymes would come.

“The rhymes came. But you may have a long journey to travel to meet somebody in the innermost inwardness and sweetness of that room. You can’t get there just by wanting to, or just because night falls. The meeting is prepared in the long day, in the work of years, in the keeping of faith, in kindness.”[i]

Love comes in the work of years. Sometimes, 400 years. There’s a reason the first attribute of love in 1 Corinthians 13 is patience.

Love waits.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Gal. 4:4-5).

“The meeting is prepared in the long day, in the work of years… in kindness.”

Love is patient and kind toward a people who kick against it. It isn’t so much the groom making vows on the wedding day, but the groom keeping those vows while his bride cheats.

The Bible would be a shorter book without God’s Coulter-like love. As it is, I can fill my hand with the chunk of pages between Genesis 3 and Luke 2.

Toward a people suffering under sin, God’s love is longsuffering.

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

God waited in patient love, and then he sent Jesus to walk out patient love.

In his book Love Came Down At Christmas, Sinclair Ferguson says:

“If you want to know what patience is, what longsuffering looks like, all you need to do is to read through one of the Gospels. Yes, “love is patient.” Jesus was patient. And if the Lord of loving patience lives in you, your love will be patient, too.”[ii]

Jesus’ birth proved that God will wait 400 years to work, if necessary, because his “love endures all things” until the time was full to send a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

[i] Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter. (2004: Counterpoint. Berkley, CA), 110

[ii] Sinclair Ferguson, Love Came Down at Christmas. (2018: The Good Book Company. UK), 35

7 thoughts on “Love as the Work of Years

  1. wow 😭 one of the themes of my year has been realizing new facets and depths of God’s love and this post was a beautiful addition to that journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Bethany,

    I don’t think I can pick just one of your blog posts as my favorite because I have enjoyed them all! I look forward to reading your thoughts and inspirations each week, and also sharing a glimpse of your life. I hope you and your family are healthy and able to celebrate a wonderful Christmas together!

    Love you all,
    Aunt T

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This was awesome. Being reminded that patients is the first thing of love, helps me to remember how much I’m not patient with others. How I don’t endure long suffering with others even when the wrong me. And I forget how much the lord does the opposite with me. He never forgets his love towards us. He never forgets the cross. He never forgets his promises. Because he is long loving suffering.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bethany, thank you for the reminder in the patience of love.

    if i were to read my first wendell berry novel, which one(s) would you recommend?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. i've only read "jayber crow" and "hannah coulter", so i can't give too much direction. both were beautiful, but "hannah" is shorter if you'd like to try it out. i also know that "a place on earth" delves into port william as a place, not so much one person.

      Liked by 1 person

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