IRON SHARPENS IRON

Coffeeshop counters are filled with felted cupids and red glittered hearts. Men walk the streets of Palo Alto with bunches of flowers pressed into hands.

I lift my face to the sun as I walk. Justin is close, this partner of mine who pushes me toward love more than anyone else I know.

And it is hard. Love. The kind of love that tears at your heart until surrender comes.  I’m not doing this right, I’m sure.

“Iron sharpens iron,” is what Justin reminds me. And he pushes, and he challenges. He can tell when I’m stuck and don’t know my way out. And he does that dance of knowing how to pursue me and give me room.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).

And it is uncomfortable. And I want to run. But I need this–someone to pursue me–encourage this stubborn me toward God. I need someone to show me Jesus in the flesh–what love looks like when I am running the other way rather than doing the one thing I know I need to do: fall.

In relationships, we hurt each other when we let our own big self get in the way. (And this is my special talent.) So I listen to Justin’s words, and I ask for God to help my heart be soft. I don’t like it–that place of tension. The Holy Spirit whispers in my ear, inviting me toward a new place. And all I want to do, instead, is stay right where I am. Even though it is more painful, more lonely, more dark.

But I can’t stay here.

I want to be where the light shines. I do. But when I hear words I don’t want to hear–true or not–it is so hard to not have my heart be hardened. It is hard to not be stubborn. It is hard to not be right.

It is a lot of work, this clashing of wills, this battle for more than peace. For love–even hope–can be turbulent too. And it is only Jesus, who is not afraid of turbulence, who calms the storm.

I didn’t know this is what love could look like–that the fighting for another person’s heart doesn’t always mean turning the other way, hoping for the best, and not doing a thing. When we see someone we love turning away from God, rejecting the full life He has for them, it will do no one any good to do nothing. It is our job to love. And love isn’t always neat and pretty and a bouquet of roses in tight, clenched fingers on a sunshine-filled, clean city street.

(Although it might just be that too.)

Love is being reminded it is okay to let your fifteen year old son, who is pushing and pulling to find his own way, go. Even if it feels awful (for you) when he falls. Love is being honest with friends and telling them that really, actually, you are not okay. Love is being bold, letting God’s words be more than words but action. It is listening, yes. But it is also responding to what He says. For what good is a word from God if we forget the Word is alive within us? It is up to us to respond–let the Word take shape in us. Then, only then, will it live.

My Spotify dashboard today offers two playlists: (1) “Valentine’s Day Love,” the first song offering the crooning of Ed Sheeran; and (2) “Anti-Valentine’s Day,” with Adam Levine belting out “Animals.” Each playlist represents a story, the story of love fought for, surrendered to, given up on, or lost. I’ve decided to go with the “Valentine’s Day Love” playlist. It’s got Jewel and Bryan Adams, with a chaser of The Lumineers and The Verve and Sister Hazel. Good stuff.

Love is heartbreak and hope. Love is battle and surrender. The story I want to tell–that I lived a life revealing love that was heart-won and true. I want to listen more to God’s truth, but, most importantly, I want to act on what I hear Him tell me, too.

How are you stirred toward action . . . toward love . . . this day?

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Showing 17 comments
  • Angie
    Reply

    On this Valentine’s Day I have a new soulmate in my life and though we haven’t met in person, we have been chatting since day one that we found each other on the Christian Mingle website. He is right now out of the states on a mission in Afghanistan and once he returns we will officially meet. I said he’s my soulmate because he has made me feel like a person and not a slave like my ex. He treats me like a queen and I can feel the love connection even though miles away. Call me crazy but I’ve never been my happiest until I met him.

    • Jennifer Camp
      Reply

      Dear Angie, That is so wonderful! Thanking God for connection He brings! I pray for God’s covering over you and your relationship. I pray for His guidance as you get to know this new man. Father, be in each conversation–be present. And guide these two on the day they meet face to face. Let them trust in You more than anything else. In Jesus’ name.

  • Jannie Ensing
    Reply

    My dear Jennifer
    My husband went to be with Jesus 6 months ago, so this valentine I look to Jesus to let his love intensify in me, I was married to Gerry for 58 years, and now I am trying to find my place without him. Very thankful for all the years we had.
    Just keep loving your hubby Jennifer and stay close and enjoy the life you have together now. The Lord loves you and will keep you in His care.
    Somehow I know I am very much caring for you and pray for your marriage and family.
    Love and blessings Jannie

    • Jennifer Camp
      Reply

      Dear Jannie,

      You bless me. I am so grateful for your prayers–for your heart for our Father and your trust in Him. Thank you for lifting me and my family and my marriage up to Him. Thank you. Thank you.

      I am so sorry for the loss of your dear husband. 58 years of walking alongside one another! I pray for continued healing–that our Father’s closeness is even more clear.

      Jesus knows your place. It has always been the same. “Come closer now, daughter; right here.”

      Much love to you, dear Jannie. So grateful for you. ~ Jennifer

    • SYD TRIOLO
      Reply

      This is beautiful. I am inspired by your gentle, honest humility and wisdom. God bless you Jannie! And your journey toward Heaven and the face of God. Love, Syd

  • Carrie
    Reply

    I focused on my kids. I’ve been single for about 7 years now & I’m over feeling less than because I’m alone.

    I choose to be happy for those in good, healthy relationships.

    And while I would like to have someone of my own I must remember to not let that desire overtake my life anymore.

    • Jennifer Camp
      Reply

      Carrie, surrender is so difficult and so beautiful, isn’t it? Bless you as you trust in Him and look to Him for all provision and wisdom now. Much love to you, sister.

  • Francisca Glendon
    Reply

    Valentine’s Day? In the 30+ years I was married, Valentine’s Day was classed as a money making racket. I gave him special cards and dinners that he accepted, and that was it. I have now been single 7 years and I still have not experienced a special Valentine’s Day.
    My kids are thousands of kilometers away, so I send them my love.
    I know what it sounds like, but you know what?
    I drown in God’s love for me. I have been in love with God now for 50 years.
    He never disappoints. I don’t get a rose or a dinner( I would not mind though!) but God never disappoints. He loves me, unconditionally and I love Him.

    • Jennifer Camp
      Reply

      Francisca, yes, the love of our Father is one much deeper than what is given to us tangibly by this world. Bless you, sister, as you claim His love for you, and nothing else.

  • Linda Johnson
    Reply

    This Valentine’s Day I took a moment to think back and knew that if it had not been for God keeping and blessing my husband and I, we certainly would not be celebrating our 20th year of marriage (June 28, 1997). We had such a rough 5 years that no one would have told me we would still be together today. God is an awesome God and without his example of Agape love, we would not know what love is. I can now truly say that I love my husband without a shadow of a doubt, and those times that I doubt his love for me, he shows up with a gift or bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates such as he did this evening. When my sister lost her husband just a few months ago, I made up in my mind that I would not take loving my husband for granite, because we never know when one of us will cross over. I thank God that she knows Him, and that God is always with her through all of her sad moments. Not only my sister, but to all women who have lost a husband, know that God is there for you. Happy Valentine’s Day Jennifer and all of my Loop Prayer Sisters.

    • Jennifer Camp
      Reply

      Linda, oh, I love your heart. You encourage me as you cling to Him and know He is the only one who gives us strength and hope. Bless you and your sister–and yes the marriages and relationships of our Loop prayer sisters. I pray for hope and healing, Father. We are so grateful for You, and so desperate for You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

  • Wanda
    Reply

    Sad to say I have never had the pleasure of experiencing true love in a relationship between a man and a woman and I’m 57.
    Perhaps one day the Lord will bless me with that opportunity but until then JESUS IS MY ALL AND ALL

    • Jennifer Camp
      Reply

      Dear Wanda, You encourage me with your faith–how Jesus is your all and all. With your heart recognizing that nothing can replace His love, you are strong and complete. I pray now for even more of our Father’s blessing upon you–that His love is discovered in new, tangible ways–and in community, in relationships, in companionship.

      Father, we trust You. We give you Wanda’s heart. You know her desires, and we trust You with them. Father, please come.

  • Sandie Heckman
    Reply

    I used to love Valentine’s Day, especially in the early years of my marriage. I’m divorced now 8 years, and each year Valentine’s Day is different- this year it brought me down in sadness and wondering why I’m still alone.
    I’ve asked God to set before me that perfect person, but for 2 years now the prayer goes unanswered. I’ve come to realize V day is a day we should share with Jesus, only this year I sat in misery and cried a river. The more I cried the more I became mad at my x. Feelings I haven’t touched ina long time came full throttle yesterday, and Satan was having a fun V day too. So I told Satan to hit the road and I prayed to my Savior, my Valentine.
    Jesus is so good at bringing us full circle in realizing He’s what we need, and He’s right here, not there or over there in Lala land – He’s right here next to us always.
    We are the ones who disappear, and we need Him first – no one else can fill this void. God put a hole in our heart for a reason – so we’d call on Him to fill it up.

    Christ’s love is unstoppable and His heart of all hearts – Jesus heart is yours, and on Valentine’s Day or any day He’ll scoop you up in your weariness and He will call you “His loveliness” and cradle you close.
    There isn’t a Hallmark card that can compare to the mark on His hands or in His side, that can even come close to the words He desperately desires to whisper in your ear – and He comes in close and whispers softly “I love You with all my heart and I gave my heart for You”. He’s our King on Valentines and this Valentine’s Day and everyday He wears a string of hearts – for He carries all our hearts today and always. ❤❤❤❤❤
    I may have struggled this V day – but I learned the only thing that is missing in my life is the need and desire to fill the hole in my heart with Jesus, rely on Him and the rest of my world will fall into place – in His time. I’m chasing Jesus but I don’t really run because He’s right next to me – I just have to ask Him to refuel my heart, because this crazy world can bring us down. When I do seek more of Jesus all becomes well with my soul.

    • Jennifer Camp
      Reply

      Dear Sandie, I read each word you just wrote, and the truth fuels me. You remind me of His presence, His everlasting love. He does not leave. And He sustains us in these moments when we feel the most alone. I am so grateful for your sharing how you made that choice to turn toward His truth, in the midst of your sadness. Your faith emboldens me. You urge me on. Thank you and bless you, dear sister.

  • Wendy
    Reply

    I think true love is that way. It makes us a better person. Just as with Jesus. With him we are better.

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