Where Does Real Courage Come From?

Monday, November 22, 2010


"Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms." Psalm 95:2

Promises, Real Promises

Did he have his fingers crossed?

Did she?

Did their vows mean anything? They gave themselves to each other, forever. Their love declared, no matter what, through it all, until death do they part. Was it just the feeling “in the moment?” So when things change, feelings shift, the magic disappears, we’re out? Is there “fine print” at the end of the contract?

Whatever happened to: One’s word once given is binding?

And so it happened, it really happened, the bride came down the aisle in all her beauty. The groom waiting to receive her. The church packed, standing, and joyful. The pastor ready to officiate the ceremony.

Did she just say, “…faithful, as long as we both shall love?”

Maybe she’s nervous. She misspoke unintentionally.

But then, did he just do the same thing? Did he just say, “…faithful, as long as we both shall love?”

The pastor was horrified. He had a choice right then and there, and he took it. He excused himself and the couple. He told the musicians to play and they went off through a door in the front of the church.

Two words. One vowel. “Which is it?” the pastor asked sharply. “As long as you both shall love? Or as long as you both shall live?” The couple was caught. Yes, they had planned it. Yes, they wanted an “out” clause in their vows so if they fell out of “love” they wouldn’t be bound for life.

Five minutes later, they were back out in front of the church. They repeated their vows. This time, they did it right.

Fingers crossed.

Is it possible that this is it? That relationships rise or fall on a single vowel?
What if the world is constructed this way? What if the core design, the basic structure of the universe, rests on this relational principle “as long as we both shall love?” Imagine it, a world that only promises love today. Right now. Deeply. Passionately. But never binding. No commitment for tomorrow.

Maybe it goes something like this: We’re in love today. Few years later, out of love. Few years later back in love but with someone new. Head over heels in crazy love! Feels like forever love until the one we love actually falls out of love with us and finds a new love to love.

As long as we both shall love.

And the impact on our children?

Of course we love them. But if we think about it, the same goes for them too. It’s not binding. It’s love without commitment for them too. They have to take it all in stride – when Mom leaves. Or Dad. Or there’s a new Mom. New Dad. New school. Weekends with one. Weekdays with another.

Big hugs with funny words: We love you as long as we’re here to love you.

A world where nothing is safe. Where trust is never known.

So imagine this is who God is. That when the Bible says God is love it means this kind of fickle, feeling-based, no commitment, no promise for the future kind of love. Imagine that He entered into a legal, binding covenant with Abraham and all his descendants with this never forever kind of love.

As long as we both shall love.

So that’s it? There when He feels like it. Gone when He doesn’t?

Surprising, isn’t it? This might actually reflect our relationship with God. We go to Him when we need Him. When our lives are a mess and we can’t handle the storms shaking our world. But the moment the sun pops out? We’re gone.

Fingers crossed.

But is He? That’s the question. Is He like us? Are His promises like our promises? What does the Bible mean when it says God is love?

Here it is, the incomprehensible! A love story like no other love story the world has ever known. The Lord, the God of heaven and earth, takes to Himself the picture of the Bridegroom in pursuit of His Bride.

And here is what the Bridegroom does: He enters into a covenant, a binding, legal, marital covenant with His people and He makes promises. Real promises. With real words like Faithfulness, Compassion, Forever.

                 "I will betroth you to Me forever;
                  Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice,
                  In loving kindness and in compassion,
                  And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness.
                  Then you will know the Lord.
                                                           Hosea 2:19-20

This is our God. He is faithful. He is trustworthy. He promises as long as we both shall live and then He promises us forever. A real forever. Because when He speaks, His word is binding. His commitment is true because it is not based on a fickle, feeling-based passing whim “in the moment.” It’s based on Him. His character. And He not only gives love. He is love. This kind of love.

Though we may come and go. Love Him then leave Him. He remains faithful. Always faithful. Trustworthy. Always trustworthy. And that’s how the story goes. At the end of time, there He stands, the Bridegroom, with His most beautiful Bride. A people of His own choosing. Bought with a great price.

No fingers crossed.

Is this what you’ve been looking for? Do you know this kind of love?

Promises, real promises.


Anonymous said...

Ouch. Your last two blogs have been really convicting and hurting me.

Anonymous said...

As someone in a marriage that the world would've excused me from decades ago, let me say there's a bigger blessing. By being faithful and staying the course there is abundant blessing. Abundant because it is totally God breathed, God poured out. As the world says, "NO! How can you be faithful to your God as your life falls apart?" God says "YES". And His yes brings a depth of blessings we would never have known but for our faithfulness.

Thad said...

Hey- I am always amazed that you took time to read and comment. Thanks.

Anon #1 -- sorry for the ouch. Our culture, our time, is so lost in how2do relationships. By the time we get to the Bible, to hear what the Lord says, wants, does, it feels like it's from another world. And, of course, it is.

ouch is so the right word.

Anon #2 -- a gift to read your reflection. Thanks.

happy, blessed, restful Thanksgivings 2you both.


Susan Wyskiel said...

Was thinking of your recent blog entry – on real promises. Thought this was so relevant to that…wanted to share, its a great new song by a Christian artist Andrew Peterson about marriage and the Lord.

Link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtTa81LyuQM – enjoy!

Dancing in the Minefields

Well I was 19 you were 21
The year we got engaged
Everyone said we were much to young
But we did it anyway
We got the rings for 40 each from a pawnshop down the road
We said our vows and took the leap now 15 years ago

We went dancing in the minefields
We went sailing in the storm
And it was harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for

Well ‘I do’ are the two most famous last words
The beginning of the end
But to lose your life for another I’ve heard is a good place to begin
Cause the only way to find your life is to lay your own life down
And I believe it’s an easy price for the life that we have found

And we’re dancing in the minefields
We’re sailing in the storm
This is harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for
That’s what the promise is for

So when I lose my way, find me
When I lose loves chains, bind me
At the end of all my faith
to the end of all my days
when I forget my name, remind me

Cause we bear the light of the son of man
So there’s nothing left to fear
So I’ll walk with you in the shadow lands
Till the shadows disappear
Cause he promised not to leave us
And his promises are true
So in the face of all this chaos baby
I can dance with you

So lets go dancing in the minefields
Lets go sailing in the storms
Oh lets go dancing in the minefields
And kicking down the doors
Oh lets go dancing in the minefields
And sailing in the storms
Oh this is harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for
That’s what the promise is for

Rick Fossum said...

As somebody who's stood before you, before those gathered, and before God, it continues to be wonderful, hard, and exciting—to be married. It is a glorious rest to know that God never does. And an inspired challenge to serve as husband.

Loved the posting, Thad!

John 15:1-11, the Vine and the branches. "Is He everything to you?