Love Is A Burning Thing

In 1963 when I was 10, Johnny Cash would release what would become his most famous hit of his career, “Ring of Fire”. It’s about a kind of a love. It’s a kind of a love that from the song is a passionate desire, a “burning” passion. If you’ve heard it, it’s a cool song and starts out with a pair of Mariachi horns and then defines love like an invading creature, “love is a burning THING”. Here are some of the lyrics that will give you the gist of the song:

Love Is A Burning Thing

And It Makes A Fiery Ring

Bound By Wild Desire

I Fell Into A Ring Of Fire

I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire I Went Down, Down, Down And The Flames Went Higher

And It Burns, Burns, Burns The Ring Of Fire The Ring Of Fire

This song wasn’t written by Johnny Cash, but by his soon-to-be-second-wife June Carter. While he was married to Vivian, June Carter was having an affair with Johnny, and her song reflects that kind of unbridled love, “a burning ring of fire”. 

For most of us that’s how love is defined, a passionate, feeling oriented love that comes from the belly, the gut, the loins of a man or woman, and by it’s nature, with time, impossible to control. Unfortunately, this is the kind of love that in many varying degrees reflects our cultures definition. We have been programmed towards this kind of love as being what “love” is, a moved by the “bowels” experience. 

In many-a-counseling settings I have asked many young couples preparing for marriage why they wanted to get married and they usually, among other things say, “I love her”. I realize now more than ever that most do not have a good sense of what the love they are talking about is. So I figure, no problem, we will define love in vows that they will say later… “For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, ‘till death do us part! I pledge you my love.” A part of me would giggle because I knew that for most, they did not have a clue as to the magnitude and purity of the vows they had just recited, even though we had discussed them in counseling. There is nothing much about loin driven, passionate burning love in the declaration of promise they had made.

When the Bible talks of God’s love for us, and our love for one another, it’s not talking about the emotionally driven love but by the choosing to be out for your best welfare kind of love, the kind that is out for another’s good, for your care and for your benefit. The kind that will not leave you or abandon you, the kind that listens and seeks to understand and nurture and tell the truth and will suffer-long with you if need be. The kind of love that brings flowers of kindness regularly, and the kind that makes hot soup for you when you’re sick, and coffee in the morning no matter what, the kind that forgives…no matter what.

Okay, yes, unless you have married an almost perfectly beautiful and faultless person, it’s an impossible kind of love. Frankly, even if he or she is perfect, you’re not and it will be impossible. God is love… Read 1 Corinthian’s 13, that kind of love, it’s impossible, and you need Christ in you to work it out, and what a great work it will be. 

Only in God:

1 John 4:7

Beloved, let’s love one another; for love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:16

We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.

Johnny Cash’s last album before he died was very spiritual in nature, and reflected a deep faith that he and June Carter had come to know. His last song on his last album was a song written by the lyricist Trent Reznor of the rock band “Nine Inch Nails” who invited Johnny Cash to take the song. It was the book end to his most famous song, “Ring of Fire”… “Hurt”. Here are some of the words, recognizing the fruit of the kind of love driven by your bowels:

Beneath the stains of time
The feelings disappear
You are someone else
I’m still right here

What have I become?
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away
In the end

And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way

May we know His love, Pastor Larry

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