Read 1 Corinthians 13
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
The chamber is dark, hollow, desolate. All that can be heard are the echoes ringing through the darkened chasm and corridors like sounds of moaning bellowing through an old, dank mausoleum. The song of two lovebirds pierce the ears of the silhouette of the man left behind in the chamber; their words of loving devotion will haunt him for the rest of his days. Yet, he knows that what he did was right. He knows that he could not hold on to her any longer. He knows that he shouldn’t have held on to her at all. After all he loves her, and it was his love for her, for his precious angel of music, that brought him to the realization that she was never his to begin with.
This is how Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera ends. It is my favorite Broadway musical and it tells the tale of a deformed man who masks his deformity and masquerades around the Paris Opera House, extorting money from the Opera House owners. He also is teaching a young woman, by the name of Christine Daae, whom he loves. He pretends to be her father’s ghost or, rather, her father’s angel of music. You see, Christine’s father died while she was a child and, before he died, he promised to send his angel to her. It was kind of her father’s way of assuring his child that he’d always be with her.
But the Phantom took the words of her father and used them in a way that manipulated Christine. He desired her and wanted her to not only be the most renowned and beloved Soprano in all of France, but he also wanted her to be his bride. Needless to say, that plan fell through and the Phantom ends up kidnapping her after he realizes that she’s fallen in love with another man. That man pursues them in order to save Christine, but he get caught by the Phantom and Christine is given the ultimate choice: either she marries the Phantom or her lover dies.
What kind of love does that? Where does love go so wrong that someone would force you into making such a choice? How can the Phantom claim to love Christine and put her into such a horrifying situation? Somewhere in the midst of rage, those questions must have penetrated the Phantom’s heart. Christine chooses to marry the Phantom in order to save her lover and the Phantom realizes that, even if she does marry him, she will never love him. So, he lets both her and her lover go. He does not harm either of them; rather, he lets them go and sinks back into the shadows of his lair…never to be heard of again.
Why did the Phantom not carry on with his vengeful plot? Why didn’t he kill Christine’s lover and force her to marry him? Why did he let them go? Because he loved her and true love does not force its way. Paul describes true love in 1 Corinthians 13, except that this love goes beyond eros (the kind of love that the Phantom, Christine and her lover were all feeling). The love that Paul writes of is perfect love…the love of God.
The key to this kind of love is that, contrary to conventional wisdom, it lets go. I have often heard people say that you have to hold on to what you love; however, true love lets go. God would love for us to send the love back; however, God lets us go so that we may be free to love whoever and whatever we want. If we were forced to love God, it would not be love. This Lent, take a page from God and learn to let go in the areas you find yourself struggling to hold on. In doing so, you will find that LOVE is truly guiding you!
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
Letting go does not mean giving up; rather, it is giving in to the understanding that LOVE will find its way.
Lord, guide me to surrender all of the things I hold on to. Teach me to let them go. Amen.