*For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom. 8:38-39*
When I noticed an elderly couple walking with slow and halting steps across the church parking lot, I thought about what an effort they must have made in order to attend the Wednesday night service. Since my mother-in-law and I reached our seats inside the sanctuary several minutes before they did, I watched as they slowly seated themselves on a pew in front of us.
As the congregation stood to sing a hymn, I noticed that she tenderly placed her arm around her husband's waist. They continued to stand side-by-side during the singing. Though strangers to me, they so intrigued me that I found it difficult to concentrate on the words of the song.
Later in the service, when the minister mentioned how glad he was to see them, the lady took that opportunity to give a brief update regarding their health. Rising slowly to her feet, she said, "I did have a light heart attack due to having a 95% blockage, but the doctor's not going to take my yard work completely away."
After taking time out to smile at the congregation, she continued, "It's so good to be back and to be greeted by so many people. My heart just bubbles over."
Then she shifted the subject to her husband. "He's getting weaker. I don't know what we'll do."
Her husband quickly interjected, "We're gonna make it!"
Unanswered questions ran through my mind. Did they have children to take care of them? What kind of help did they need? How long would they be able to be out and about? How long before their deteriorating bodies forced them to remain inside their home or move to either an assisted living environment or a nursing home in order to receive the care they needed?
After she sat down, her husband gently placed his arm around her shoulders. As they listened attentively to the minister, I smiled, happy to know that age had not diminished their sincere affection for each other!
They made such a sweet pair as she sat within the wrap of his left arm. Both wore glasses. Both had snow-white hair and wrinkled, saggy skin. Although age, accompanied by declining health, had changed their bodies, it had not changed their love for one another.
All during the time I'd been thinking about the elderly couple, I'd also been listening to the minister's message, so I noticed when he suddenly made a slight shift in his subject and began to read some of the many commands (in the Bible) to love one another. One verse in particular stuck in my mind: "Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other" (Romans 12:10, NLT). It stuck because I had a beautiful word picture of that right before my eyes.
As I reflected on that kind of tender love, I thought about what the Bible says (in Romans 8: 35-39) about *the love Christ has for us, a love that asts no matter how tough the circumstances*. Just as nothing -- not even he most serious difficulties and calamities -- can ever separate us from Christ's love for us, neither should problems separate us from our love for one another.
Blessed, indeed, are those who give and receive that kind of genuine, lasting love.
Johnnie Ann Gaskill