“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” –Joshua 1:5
Loyalty and love, are these not one in the same? When loyal you are loving and when loving you are loyal. Love remains because it’s loyal, and loyalty exists because of love. For who can separate these two? Passion and ethos swell our hearts for a time. They seem for a few seasons in life to capture the very essence of the love our hearts long for so greatly. A passionate kiss, a thoughtful gift, words that whisper to the deep places within us – many have thought these have captured what love is. But when the human heart finally encounters expressed loyalty, then it becomes acquainted with true love. The one who will never leave you, the one you can wrong again and again, the one who will never stop believing in you no matter how many times you fail – surely this is the one who has the greatest love for you. When times are hard, the walls of your world crumbling all around you, and when you’re diseased and no thinking man would want to be near – the person who remains is clearly the one who loves you most. For how can a friend show you their love when times are good, when the fields are ripe and the sun is shining on your world and theirs? Many a man have felt like brothers when luck and prosperity were working on their sides. Victory is sweet, no doubt. But with loss comes the crystallization of your perspective on true love, on who loves you and on who you love.
Loyalty, this is the essence of love. For a good friend can mourn with you in the waiting room as some great loss begins to set on you like a heavy dew in the morning. They may tell you, and genuinely mean it, that they will be with you through all the trials ahead, until this dew of mourning dries with the rising sun. But if that sun stays set for longer than they thought, most will move on and prove themselves only a good friend, not a loving one. The one who remains until the eclipse of the heart has fully passed, the one who remains with you, loyal until and through the bitter end, and then through the joy of the new day that has finally come – this is the friend that loves you most. Loyalty is the greatest expression of love. Loyal to a cause, loyal to their country, loyal to those in need – loyalty is the greatest trait of great men and women. Loyalty is the thing that has proven to yield greatness, and the one who is great is always one of some deep loyalty to his object of love.
Loyalty never fails, keeps no record of wrong, it prevails in every situation. Loyalty is what the One who loves most and is deserving of most love gives and asks for. He came for us while we were still choosing to be his enemies, he died so that we might be with him forever, he forgives no matter the debt – why? Because he is love, and love is loyalty. His heart will never leave ours, even when we demand it of him in moments of loss and pain. He mourns our wounds, and was wounded so we could be healed. Time and time again we gave him reason to start over, to make a new batch, better and less rebellious, but he remained faithful, he remained loyal. And in response all he asks is the same. “Love me with all your heart, soul, and mind. Always put me first, never forsake me or my ways. Acknowledge me before men, praise me with songs for the world to see, even if they persecute you for it.” To put it simply, our greatest lover, therefore the one most loyal, asks for our love, our loyalty in return. “Never leave me,” he whispers out of love.
So when we think of loving Him or any cause or person, let us remember what true love is. It is not a shooting star lighting up the night gloriously for a time; it is the Star most loyal to us, rising each day to meet us with warmth and life, always there shining on us no matter where we might go. Love is not feeling, it is not controlled by randomness and emotion, it is not the loudest in the crowd of supporters; love is the choice to remain, the choice to love, it’s choice. It is shown by the God who remains, given to us so we might remain. Love yells in support, but it remains to be the one yelling when all else have left. Not because of duty or guilt, but because of the great love for you. Love is loyalty, and loyalty is love. Never try and part these two who have been paired for all eternity.
- Mark Ballenger