"It's important to have someone who loves you."
(Words of an elderly lady in a convalescent hospital)
For our lesson today, I'm going to tell you a love story. Actually, I'm going to tell you three love stories and before all you men wad this up and throw it down, I'm going to "spill the beans" so to speak. I'm going to let everyone know that men like love stories too, but some seem to think it's unmanly somehow to admit it. Well, there, I did it for you and you'll just have to live with it being public knowledge.
My first "love story" comes from the era of World War II that also speaks to "honor," as in always conducting ourselves in an honorable manner. You see, Christians are supposed to do the "honorable thing" in all of our interaction with others. So, not only are you going to get a "love story," you're going to get a side lesson in being honorable.
The story. It starts with a young Army Air Corps pilot named John Blandford going through his training. At the camp library he picked up a book to read that had apparently been donated for servicemen. The book was entitled: "Of Human Bondage." He saw that there were a lot of handwritten notations in the margin areas of the book and he also noted that there was a name on the book-plate in the same handwriting. The name was Hollis Meynell of New York City.
He obtained her address from a New York City phone book and wrote her a letter, to which she responded and they began a correspondence friendship. Shortly after this started he was shipped out to the Pacific theater of the war. They continued to write each other and in a period of 13 months developed a great closeness with each other.
Close enough that on one occasion he confessed that there were times when he was afraid and in her reply to that letter, she told him that when those times came, to remember David in the Bible. That there were times when he was afraid and that it was at one of those times that he wrote the 23rd Psalm. She told him that, from now on, when he was afraid, to "hear my voice reciting this Psalm to you." It was interesting that she would say this because he had never seen her, nor heard her voice. But, he said that he was able to do this at his "scared" times.
Over this letter writing time period their closeness became such that both felt that they were in love with each other. Now, of course, he had asked her to send him a picture of her, but she refused to do so. However, she did explain to him why she wouldn't send a picture. She said that she did not want a love based upon her "looks." She might be beautiful or just plain-looking and she did not want their love to be based upon outward appearances. So, she never sent a picture.
However, she told him that when he came home and came to New York, she would meet him at Grand Central Station and upon that meeting, they would be free to either pass each other up and take it no further, or continue on with their relationship. Whatever they chose to do was to be based on that meeting at the train station.
Since they had never physically met, the following arrangements were made for recognition purposes. She would be wearing a single red rose on the lapel of her coat and he was to be carrying his copy of the book, "Of Human Bondage." So, he finally gets to come home and of course heads for New York City. He goes to Grand Central Station where they've agreed to meet at 6:00 PM on the set day.
Can you imagine what must have been going through his mind after all the months of writing to her while fighting the war in the Pacific? How many times had he imagined what she looked and sounded like? Arriving at the station he began to search among the hundreds of people there for a woman wearing a single red rose on her coat.
He peered at every woman who came into view with anxious expectation. Once a pretty girl passed by with a red flower on her coat, but it wasn't a rose. Plus, she looked too young, because Hollis had told him that she was 30 years old. Then he saw a beautiful young woman wearing a pale green suit, having long blond hair and beautiful blue eyes coming towards him. But, no rose on her lapel. But she did smile at him and spoke to him as she passed by and then she was gone.
Then, a short distance behind the woman in the green suit, he saw Hollis Meynell. She was standing sort of over to one side and she was wearing a rumpled brown coat with a single red rose on its lapel. Lt. Blandford was faced with a dilemma. He wanted to follow the beautiful woman who had smiled and spoken to him, but here before him was the woman he had been writing to all those months. And, she looked a little older than he had pictured her as looking. But she had provided him with so much comfort and companionship during the war that he didn't hesitate. He went up to her, saluted her and held out his copy of the book so she would know who he was.
He said, "I'm Lt. John Blandford and you are Miss Meynell. I'm so glad that you could meet me. May I take you to dinner?" The lady just smiled at him and said, "I don't know what this is all about, son, but that young lady in the green suit who just passed by, asked me to wear this rose on my coat. And, she said that if you asked me to go out with you, I should tell you that she's waiting for you in that big restaurant across the street."
The second story is a short one and is the one that provides us with the words at the top of the lesson. A son was visiting his elderly mother in a convalescent hospital who was there because of suffering with Alzheimer's disease. He was sitting by her bed just holding her hand when suddenly she squeezed his hand three times. He immediately began crying because he knew what the squeezes meant.
When she and his father were just "going together" they developed their system of hand squeezing so they could communicate privately with each other while sitting in worship service. She would squeeze his hand three times which meant "I love you." He would reply with two squeezes which meant "Me too." It was the knowing the meaning of the three squeezes that brought the tears to his eyes.
He then gently squeezed her hand twice and it was as if a switch was turned on inside her. She turned her face towards him and looked as if she had total recognition of who he was, but she never said a word.
They sat holding hands for about another 10 minutes and the she suddenly turned to him and made the statement I started our lesson with. "It's important to have someone who loves you." What a tremendous thing to say. I can't imagine going through my life not having someone to love me. Have you ever just thought about how blessed you are if someone loves you?
I couldn't quote you statistics, but I feel pretty safe in saying that this factor, the not having anyone to love them, or the perception of it, is the underlying cause of a lot of suicides. And this thought leads us to our last "love story."
No matter who you are or where you are, you have One who loves you. He is the One that gave you life, who blessed you with your soul and the One who sacrificed the most precious thing He had so that you might be saved - His Son, Jesus Christ. Oh, you might have friends on this earth, but the greatest "friend" you can have is in heaven, seated at the right hand of His Father. (Prov. 18:24)
"For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16
And, you know something else about God's "love story?" He loved us before we loved him. He has always loved us, from the very beginning. What a great "love story." Let's wrap this "love story" up with some words of the Apostle John:
"This is real love - not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other." 1 John 4:10-11 (NLT)