I'm currently reading a great book a dear friend of mine gave me called "Turn My Mourning Into Dancing" by Henri Nouwen. It's a collection of writings from the late pastor, teacher, and thinker. I find myself wanting to underline just about everything, does that ever happen to you when you read a book? I digress....anyhow, I came to this particular excerpt of the book that discusses C.S. Lewis's book called "The Four Loves" and Henri Nouwen quotes Lewis' work:
To love at all is to be vulnerable....If you want to make sure of keeping [your heart] intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entangelments; lock it up safe in the casket of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken - it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.... The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from the danger of love is hell. -- C.S. Lewis
I mean, like wow. This begs the conclusion, life without love is hell on earth. So what is a life without God Himself you ask? A life without God is not only hell, but it is also a life absent of love. God is love.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. - 1 John 4:16, NIV
Now, Nouwen says, "And those who try to avoid all risk, those who would try to guarantee that their hearts will not be broken, end up in a self-centered hell."
Personally, I could not agree with Lewis and Nouwen more. Have you taken the risk to love? I believe one must have a true understanding of what love is to truly understand not only God, but also themselves. Better yet, to truly understand what love is, one must increase their understanding of God and who He is. God is selfless, and I've learned that love is selfless to the core. Nouwen elaborates on loving a person through giving freedom:
Loving someone means allowing the other person to respond in ways you have no control over. Every time you engage yourself in an intimate, loving way with someone else you become at least partly subject to exhilaration of hearing another person's yes or the disappointment in his or her no. The more people you love, the more pain you may experience. For the great mystery of love is that while it can be received, it can also be rejected. Every time you love you enter into the risk of love. -- Henri Nouwen
To me, this begs the question, God loves so many because it is who He is, and how much more do we often hurt the heart of God? Granted, God is so much bigger than any hurt we can conceive, but it had me thinking how must God feel in the ways we often treat Him, putting Him at a second priority in our lives, or blowing off our time with God to do other things. People could debate for hours on whether it is or isn't a risk for God to give us free will to choose to love Him or not, and that's a debate I'm not jumping into here. What I do say though, is there is an even greater risk in NOT loving. You have everything to gain by choosing to love someone, and yes, there will be pain in that because we are all human beings - and we make mistakes, and we'll keep making mistakes. However, the greater pain lies in living a personal hell, completely absent from all love. To love is to engage in a commitment, a choice, an action that glorifies a living God. To abstain from such an action is to cheapen your own human experience.