Anchoring the Ship: Love 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33

People are not born lovers; nor do they luck into love; for love is beyond our natural ability.  Love is something we learn to experience and express.  The risk of loving is our heart can be broken, and certainly it will be wrung.  If we want to keep our heart intact, we must not give it to anyone, not even an animal.  The safest way to keep our heart from being broken is to wrap it with hobbies and luxuries; locked it up in a coffin of self preservation.  None of us can be the GPS for others; directing them to love, each of us must learn the lessons of vulnerable love through encounters in loving others. The reason we board the mother ship is to learn the lessons of love.

As a pastor, I am humbled to walk with people, practicing the art of love in some very profound ways.  The privilege also allows me to see love go wrong in ways that makes me wish love wasn’t so vulnerable.  Yet, it’s rewarding to see persons pass through the crucible of loving another person, as I see them grasp new understandings about themselves and fresh insights about the nature of God’s love.  I try to remain unanxious, so I can be a good guide; for I know the costs can be severe and tragic if they do not learn well the lessons that only the tests of love can teach.

This story of David and Absalom is a love story of a father and son.  The tale allows us to see some of the consequences that occur when love lays us bare; mirroring some of the common pitfalls of loving.  It provide us an opportunity to learn how we might be more vulnerable in loving others.

We don’t know much about the relationship between father and son till we get to this story.  I’m sure, when Absalom was born; David was like every parent-the world should sing and smile because the world has taken a turn for the better because of the birth of his child.  At that point, no one could imagine the events that would set off the trouble.  The love a parent has toward a child is beautifully naïve, till they experience the vulnerability of love.

David has many wives and children, who jockeyed for the affections of their husband and father.  David was a better soldier and poet than a spouse and dad.  He loved his children, but didn’t connect by blessing them, so they could grow into their own.  That is not to say that children were not responsible too, for they make mistakes in expressing their love, as well.

We didn’t read the part of the story that tells how David’s son, Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar.  David is furious, but he doesn’t punish his son because of his love for him.  Both father and son rationalize their actions because of love.  We ask, “What does love got to do with it?

David’s irresponsible love understandably feels like an injustice to Tamar, when her father doesn’t to come to her aid.  The result of David’s refusal to discipline Amnon and demonstrate true love causes contempt from Absalom, who is Tamar’s full brother.  Trouble blows on the family ship when no one is holding the rudder.  Absalom takes it upon himself to avenge his sister’s honor.  If David would not act like a father, his son feels responsible to act in his stead; exposing one way loving or (not loving) makes us vulnerable.

Disciplining is responsible love.  Parents shape their children by discipline.  This doesn’t mean we spank them whether they need it or not.  Parents are to be the primary ones disciplining a child; for no one else will be so cautious to look out for their welfare.  Often times, parents say they don’t discipline their children because they love them too much.  This irresponsible rationale strips away the power of love.  Discipline doesn’t make love conditional; it makes love possible.  A refusal to discipline deprives a person of love.

David is caught in the snare of loving irresponsibly.  Amnon’s death at the hand of Absalom’s servants sends David into a rage.  He has lost a son, but he focuses his sense of loss on Absalom, instead of himself.  Absalom must escape his father, so he stays away for three years.  David finally lets him come home; but won’t see him for another two years.  During this time the contempt Absalom feels for his father builds; driving them further apart.

Absalom turns on his father, deciding to usurp his authority; thus demonstrating his own version of irresponsible love by pursuing his father.  Children can expect things from parents they have no right to expect; thus punishing everyone with unreasonable expectations that no love can meet.  Love is too vulnerable, and cannot carry the weight of unfair expectations.

David shows us how crazy love can be; as Absalom jabs dagger after dagger in his father’s heart.  Despite his son’s behavior, David cannot do anything, but love his son.  Maybe, David realizes he brought this on himself because of his own irresponsible love, so he instructs his troops to deal gently with the boy for his sake.

When David’s soldiers catch the rebel son hanging in the tree by his hair they forget their instructions.   Joab runs spears through his heart.  In doing so, he might as well have sent the spear through the heart of David.  When David heard of Absalom’s death he cried, “Absalom, Absalom, my son, my son! Would I had died instead of you!  O Absalom, my son!

We can keep the story at arm’s length; focusing on others not loving rightly; making it the other person’s problem; thus hindering an opportunity to learn to love.  To spend time blaming David for Absalom’s behavior, or excusing Absalom’s irresponsible love would be a grave error that misses the point of this account.  We learn to love by making ourselves vulnerable, taking up the adventure of love on this mother ship as we make love one of our anchors by loving freely; trusting the ones we love will join us now or later.

So we don’t misunderstand, the anchor of love cannot protect or guarantee happiness.  Simply because we cast the anchor of love we should not expect it to compel others to love us in return.  People make choices and some choices can reduce us to tears.  We don’t have to hold onto the anchor of love very long before we realize it’s tenuous and fragile nature.

We discover how vulnerable love is when we realize a person’s love is not as perfect as we thought.  We discover how vulnerable love is when we realize love cannot soothe every hurt and right every wrong.  We discover how vulnerable love is when we realize that though we love another, it is still possible to know pain at very deep levels.  Love is tested when the chain holding the anchor of love is under great tension.

Love is tested greatly when we experience loss, such as in this story.  The thought of losing a child makes us feel like a spear piercing our heart.  That haunting cry of David, gives us the feeling he wanted to tell his regrets and express his love.  But, because of the incident with Amnon, he couldn’t bring himself to share his feelings until it was too late!  Love unspoken is unknown and no good to the one loved.  This is an irresponsible love.

Love in the Present Tense

It is never to late say I love you

It doesn’t ever have to be too late.  The need to express love is always in the present tense.  The way we love at FUMC, Irving is to take the risk by loving vulnerably, even though it leaves us vulnerable.  We are a people of faith who trust in the grace of God that goes ahead of us when we freely offer our love.  We believe we’re making known the endless and consistent love of God by offering self in vulnerable love.  We can navigate the trials of displaying vulnerable love, if we are able to affirm God is able to redeem in any offering of our love.  Love shows the way FUMC, it greater than any other force.

When we experience the vulnerabilities of love, consider the great love God has expressed toward all of God’s children through the Son.  For God’s was vulnerable to the whims of human love.  That example models for us how to throw ourselves into the sea, despite the turbulence.  In those seas, we hold to the anchor of love, trusting in the God who makes sure the anchor holds firm and who will replenish our souls with the same love we give away.  Congregation, let’s throw out the anchor of love; making ourselves vulnerable; give love away liberally and lavishly.  AMEN!


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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. LOVE this:)) Thanks for sharing. I miss seeing you guys on Worth…

  2. Thanks Tayla, we miss Worth too,but the good people more. I know we said we going to invite you easterner s north and we will soon.

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