“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8).

A couple of weekends ago, sun blazing in the blue sky overhead, my 24-year-old daughter, Emily, five-year-old grandson, Logan, his two-year-old sister, Paige, and I set out for Sauvie’s Island Pumpkin Patch to make a memory.

Rosy images of romping through a hay maze with Emily’s kindergarten class 19 years ago brought me a smile. That October, after playfully zigging and zagging our way through the maze, we shared crunchy, munchy apples and cider. (Eight children from other schools accidentally rode the bus with her class back to her school, much to the teachers’ surprise!)

So now, late on a Saturday afternoon this month, Emmy, the grandkids, and I entered a corn maze. The stalks towered over us, so we could see only a few feet ahead as we walked. After 45 minutes, we were hopelessly lost.

I felt just as disoriented a day later, in a power struggle with a relative. It felt like I was back in the corn maze, fighting tears, taking repeated passes at the path, with no way out. Aaargh!

 Here’s what the corn maze and Co-Co (Comforter and Counselor, the Holy Spirit) taught me about agape love:

1.)  Corn Maze
When you round the bend for the 49th time in what seems like unending circles, look up.  I used the position of the setting sun to mark west, but at times, the confusing path of the maze took switchbacks that sent us east. Claustrophobic, I tilted my head back and looked at the sky. “God can see me,” I thought, “even if I can’t see Him.”

Co-Co’s Agape 101
When struggling with the difficult person, I had to rely on the knowledge that God saw me. God saw us. I looked up, knowing He had the switchbacks in hand.

2.)  Corn Maze
A couple of employees called Corn Cops were less than helpful when we asked for directions back to the entrance.

Co-Co’s Agape 101
When the family member didn’t rally, I simply needed to forgive—regardless of her actions.

I needed to get rid of the “popcorn” in my “popcorn bowl”—offenses waiting to be forgiven. And not just the big fluffy popcorn fellas on top. Jesus told me to take care of the “old maids”—the unpopped kernels in the bottom of the bowl that didn’t have enough moisture to create steam for an explosion—our back story. Sigh. Jesus sure knows how to read my mail. He knows how to read my popcorn, too, apparently.

3.)  Corn Maze
As we crossed a bridge and doubled back past a nearby trail, I fought the urge to say, “We’ll never get out of here!” I knew that thoughts feed words, and words feed actions. Instead, I said (without much confidence), “We’ll find our way out, you’ll see.”

Co-Co’s Agape 101
Co-Co told me to guard my tongue. He told me to speak “present-future” (as Graham Cooke calls it) over my relative. He said, “Quit saying, ‘This will never get better!’ and speak life and hope into her, no matter what choices she makes.”

4.)  Corn Maze
By the time an employee led us back to the entrance, the hay rides were over and the concession stands had closed. I bit my lip. We took a quick visit to the barn with goats and pigs, and hit the road.

We drove home in bumper-to-bumper traffic, subdued, disappointed, and sullen. Instead of caramel apples, we munched on cucumber slices.

Co-Co’s Agape 101
Sometimes even the best-intentioned relationships have days that go south. Co-Co told me that when we approach our families with His agape, unfailing love will prevail.

“Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s agape love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).

We put this trip behind us. Next year, we’ll make a memory under a new blue sky. Corny as it may seem, Co-Co will likely have another Agape 101 course ready to teach my heart.

 And—betcha—the hay ride will be open.

 What has Co-Co been showing you lately about agape love?

Rise to freedom!