Have you ever read Sonnet 43 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, How Do I Love Thee? While I may have read it a time or two, I can only remember and lamely quote the first twenty-four words. “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach…”[1]


Browning was born in 1806 and died in 1861. She didn’t live very long by our current lifespan, but she made the most of her fifty-five years with the beautiful words of her poems or sonnets, especially this one. As I reread Sonnet 43, I thought of young love and the passion I felt as I met, dated, and married my husband. In the early days of our love, I walked three feet off the ground and easily could have quoted these words to him. And I just might have at one point or another.


But after all these years, as much as I love my husband and still feel excited and privileged to be his wife, he is my earthly husband. I await my heavenly Bridegroom, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


With that thought, I realized Browning’s Sonnet 43 could almost be a prayer, for I also love my LORD to “the depth, breadth, and height my soul can reach.” I love Him “to the level of every day’s most quiet need.” I love Him “freely” and “purely” (well, as purely as my sinful soul can). And, I love Him with “passion…my childhood’s faith…breath, smiles,” and “tears, of all my life…”[2] Truly, He is my All in All.[3]


Yet, pondering these words and how I love God, I remembered a former Bible teacher explaining our Bible’s “love chapter,” I Corinthians 13. In this short passage, God speaks through Paul of LOVE in human terms. He says love is patient, kind, not jealous, conceited, or proud. Love is not puffed up, rude, self-seeking, or provoked. Love thinks no evil and doesn’t keep a long list of what our spouse did wrong. Love hates sin, rejoices in truth, and it’s always there. Love never gives up, and its faith, hope, and patience never fail. Love bears all things, believes, hopes, and endures all things because LOVE is ETERNAL.[4]

“Wow,” I thought. “I fail this LOVE TEST miserably.” But then, the teacher clarified. “While this explains how we are to love,” she said, “it first describes how God loves us since He IS LOVE.”[5] All of a sudden, I looked at this passage with new eyes. And now, thinking back, I hear, “How do I love thee? Let Me, your LORD, count the ways.


“I love you to the height of heaven and as deep as the deepest sea. I chose you and set My love on you as My special treasure.[6] ‘Rise up, My love, My fair one, and come away. You are precious in My sight.’[7]


“With gentle cords, bands of love, and lovingkindness, I drew you[8] and demonstrated My love. While you were still in your sin, Christ died for you.[9] Through this, you saw My glory, heard My voice, turned from your sin, and believed. You received Jesus, the Son of My Love, as your Lord and Savior.[10] It was then I spread My wing over you, covered your nakedness,[11] and healed your broken heart. I set you free from the prison that kept you bound, and I alone comforted you. My love provided beauty for the ashes of your life, joy like oil for mourning, and I replaced your spirit of heaviness with My garment of praise.[12]


“I, the Lord your God, am the Mighty One in your midst who rejoices over you with gladness and singing. I will quiet you with My love.[13]


“And what’s more, My Holy Spirit poured My love into your heart, and nothing shall separate us.[14] So, how do I love thee? Oh, child, these many ways and more. Therefore, abide in My everlasting love.”[15]


Have a blessed and Happy Valentine’s Day, 


[2] Ibid.

[3] Colossians 3:11

[4] Anita’s paraphrase of I Corinthians 13:4-8a

[5] I John 4:8

[6] Deuteronomy 7:6

[7] Song of Solomon 2:10; Isaiah 43:4

[8] Hosea 11:4; Jeremiah 31:3

[9] Romans 5:8

[10] Deuteronomy 5:24; John 1:12; Colossians 1:13

[11] Ezekiel 16:8

[12] Isaiah 61:1-3

[13] Zephaniah 3:17

[14] Romans 5:5; Romans 8:35-39

[15] Jeremiah 31:3; John 15:9


Popular posts from this blog

Whatever Happened to Live and Let Live?

The Book of Ruth Series - God's Provision-Lesson 9