Thursday, July 9, 2020

An anniversary. . .

Today would have been my parents 70th wedding anniversary.  My dad died five years ago and my mother celebrated her 90th birthday a few weeks ago.  The day cannot pass without a nod to their enduring life together amid ups and downs, troubles and trials, sorrows and joys, and riches counted in relationships more than money.  My brother and I have been the recipients of much of their generosity and have enjoyed the rich blessing of their love, the strong witness of their faith, and the good character of their fidelity.  But we are not alone.  The impact they made in their community lives on long past them.

Marriage has become a rather selfish relationship.  We have come to expect the main job of our spouses is to make us happy.  While this is a great responsibility, it is also an impossible one.  Love has become something rather weak and fragile -- it has a shelf life and a best by date that makes such anniversaries rarer today than a generation ago.  We still say the same vows (unless we write our own sappy little toasts to love and life).  But the words no longer mean what they did.  As long as we both shall live has become as long as we both shall love - a not so subtle testament to the fact that love will probably end and so will the marriage.  We are always willing to love when health is good and life is better but illness and the worst of times usually mean that we have reserved an out.  When the going gets tough, the tough get going. . . out the door.

The love that shows itself in longevity is a long-suffering love, a love that does not rush to judge or count wrongs or keep score.  This love is patient and kind, slow to anger, and quick to forgive.  It is not that this love is beyond us, Christ is still the source of this love and its power.  It is simply that we are not so sure this is what we want.  Oh, we love to see the tearful stories of such long and enduring love but not as a path we want to trod.  We love the idea of such a love but we seem less willing to pay the cost of it.  For such love is just that -- costly.  Christ's love for us cost Him His life on the cross and when His love shines through us it always comes with a cost.  We will need to pack in our egos, put someone before us, refuse to weigh life on a balance scale, and be ready to forgive the unforgivable.  That does not happen without help from above and with a willingness to be shaped and directed by that love.

My parents were not perfect and theirs was not a perfect marriage.  Is there such a thing on earth?  But throughout their life together they shared a common faith, were nurtured by one voice in God's Word, and were fed together at the Lord's altar.  And from that common faith flowed an uncommon love and fidelity.  It is a great blessing to me and also a great responsibility.  To have grown up knowing their strengths makes me more aware of my many weaknesses.  And it reminds me of how much my wife has had to forgive for my flaws and failings.  But forgiveness is not given to the deserving or the worthy but to sinners who lament their sins, take responsibility for them, and ask to be absolved.  Thanks be to God that there are husbands and wives who forgive and a God who absolves the sinner and quiets the conscience.  Because of this, there is still hope.

No comments: