December 15, 2011

Love Her More and Love Her Less

by John Piper

The God whom we have loved, and in
Whom we have lived, and who has been
Our Rock these twenty-two good years
With you, now bids us, with sweet tears,
To let you go: "A man shall leave
His Father and his mother, cleave
henceforth unto his wife, and be
one unashamed fles and free."
This is the word of God today,
And we are happy to obey.
For God has given you a bride
Who answers every prayer we've cried
For over twenty years, our claim
For you, before we knew her name.

And now you ask that I should write
A poem -a risky thing, in light
of what you know: that I am more
the preacher than the poet or the artist.
I am honored by your bravery, and I comply.
I do not grudge these sweet confines
of rhyming pairs and metered lines.
They are old friends.

And so we met in recent days,
and made the flood of love and praise
and counsel from a father's heart
to flow within the banks of art.
Here is a portion of the stream,
My son: sermon poem. Its theme:
A double rule of love that shocks;
a doctrine in paradox:

If you now aim your wife to bless.
then love her more and love her less.

If in the coming years, by some
strange providence of God, you come
to have the riches of this age,
and, painless, stride across the stage
Beside your wife, be sure in health
to love her, love her more than wealth.

And if your life is woven in a hundred friendships,
and you spin a festal fabric out of all
Your sweet affections, great and small,
Be sure, no matter how it rends,
to love her, love her more than friends.

And if there comes a point when you are tired,
and pity whispers, "Do yourself a favor. Come,
be free; embrace the comforts here with me."
Know this! Your wife surpasses these:
So love her, love her more than ease.

And when your marriage bed is pure,
and here is not the slightest lure
of lust for any but your wife,
and all ecstasy in life,
a secret all of this protects:
Go love her, love her more than sex.

And if your taste becomes refined,
and you are moved by what the mind
of man can make, and dazzled by His craft,
remember that the "why" of all this work is in the heart;
So love her, love her more than art.

And if your own should someday be
the craft that critics all agree
is worthy of a great esteem,
and sales exceed your wildest dream,
beware the dangers of a name.
And love her, love her more than fame.

And if, to your surprise, not mine,
God calls you by some strange design
to risk your life for some great cause,
let neither fear nor love give pause,
and when you face the gate of death,
Then love her, love her more than breath.

Yes, love her, love her more than life;
Oh, love the woman called your wife.
Go love her as your earthly best.
Beyond this venture not. But, lest
your love become a fool's facade,
Be sure to love her less than God.

It is not wise or kind to call
an idol by sweet names, and fall,
as in humility, before
a likeness of your God. Adore
above your best beloved on earth
The God alone who gives her worth.
And she will know in second place
that your great love is also grace,
and that your high affections now
are flowing freely from a vow

Beneath these promises, first made
to you by God. Nor will they fade
for being rooted by the stream
of Heaven's joy, which you esteem
and cherish more than breath and life,
that you may give it to your wife.

The greatest gift you give your wife
is loving God above her life.
And this I bid you now to bless:
Go love her more by loving less.

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