Love changes everything!

Mass wedding
Afghan mass wedding (Photo: Comfort Aid International)

“Love Changes everything”1 is the title of a well-known song from Aspects of Love, the 1989 musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, but it’s also a profound truth. Romantic love can make you feel alive, as though your life has a purpose; each day becomes an adventure, each night a chance to dream, but it’s the love that we show to our fellow human beings that really changes everything.

In a Valentine’s Day report from Afghanistan, NBC News correspondent Mandy Clark reported on the impact that love can make, and is making, on the war against the Taliban. Valentine’s day was banned in Afghanistan when the Taliban were in power, but now love and marriage are being seen as a way of strengthening society and a means of depriving the Taliban of new fighters.

Afghan newlyweds Suliman and Farzana believe that if everyone understood the proper meaning of Valentine’s Day, “there would be no more weapons.” This is not just wishful thinking. Afghan young men have been joining the Taliban for money because they are single and poor. Young, married men, however, have a wife and responsibilities at home.

To improve Afghan society a Muslim charity, Comfort Aid International, have been sponsoring mass weddings in the poorer parts of the country. Thirty-eight couples took part in the latest event. Eighteen year-old Sayeed Hussaini and his bride Fatima could not have got married without the charity’s help. “I’m jobless, but I will not join them,” said Sayeed, determined to avoid the Taliban for the sake of his new wife Fatima.

As Farzana aptly put it, “So when love comes even Taliban cannot stop anybody … Love can change everything!”

Or as Michael Ball sang, “Love, love changes everything: how you live and how you die … Nothing in the world will ever be the same … Love will turn your world around, and that world will last forever … Love will never, never let you be the same.”

Or as Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Jesus obviously knew that … love changes everything!

NOTE:

1 Composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics written by Charles Hart and Don Black and sung by Michael Ball.

A whisper in the wind

Man jumping over 2013Time flies! Everyone I speak to feels that the years are passing faster than ever. A few months ago 2012 was only just beginning, and now it’s nearly over! Here in the UK this year we’ve celebrated Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games and ‘enjoyed’ the wettest summer for 100 years. In Europe scientists announced the discovery of the elusive Higgs Boson particle, and the Costa Concordia cruise ship found itself at the centre of one of Italy’s worst maritime disasters. In Asia there’s been severe flooding in the Philippines, and Xi Jinping became the new Chinese leader. In the Middle East there have been worries over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the tragic Syrian civil war and a few miles further south nearly 800 Gazan rockets were fired into Israel in 2012 before Israel finally responded in November. Superstorm Sandy brought death and destruction in the Caribbean, before going on to wreak havoc in the north-eastern states of the USA. Over New Mexico Felix Baumgartner, an Austrian skydiver, made the highest and fastest jump in history from a helium balloon at an altitude of 128,100 feet.

Much has happened in a relatively short time – including many other important events, but that’s not always the case for us all. If we’re not careful time can quickly fly by with little being achieved. How was 2012 for you? Did you manage to accomplish as much as you’d hoped? Unless we take stock of our time it will quickly slip through our fingers. 3,000 years ago King David wrote, “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered — how fleeting my life is. … My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; certainly, everyone alive is like a whisper in the wind.” (Psalm 39:4-5)

In the light of eternity we are here for a relatively short time – “a whisper in the wind”, so the beginning of a new year is a good time to think about our priorities in life. The time quickly comes when we can look back twenty, thirty, even forty years over our adult life, and realise that we can’t change our past and that our future is shorter than it once was. So 2013 offers us a whole new start to make the most of our time, by reassessing our priorities and making the most of every opportunity. As Moses once prayed, “A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. … So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a wise heart.” (Psalm 90:4, 12)

I hope that 2013 will be a blessed year for you, a year when you accomplish your goals yet find time to rest, when your priorities are ones that you’ll look back on with gladness, and, whatever your situation, may God be your guide. HAPPY NEW YEAR!