by Paul Sheldon: Author of “A Voice From The Pew”
September 23, 2016
Can I ask you a question? What comes to mind when I mention the word “relationship?” Is it the “puppy love” of high school kids fawning all over each other, or is it deeper? For me, it is a series of memories from when my wife and I were dating, that stretch through to this very day. In giving you a little insight into our relationship, Heather and I actually dated twice. The first time, I was stationed over seas, and had received a letter from her (thanks to my mom) and soon after came home on leave to see her. For the next six months, life was sweet. I purchased all the cards and knickknacks I could find, and tried to send something out at least once a week. Do you know, she still has a stuffed bear in Navy Dress Blues, complete with all of my service ribbons on it? Yeah, I was sappy. Well, needless to say the next six months were extremely difficult because I didn’t adjust to civilian life very well, and had trouble reigning in my military mannerisms. After a few years, she reached out again, and this time it was meant to be. I can remember the day I knew that she was the “One.” It was July 2, 1999, and we’d just gone out to dinner where she lived, and then returned to her house to watch a movie. During the movie, I looked down at her, and it was then that my heart was stirred, and I knew that there wasn’t another woman on Earth that I wanted to be with.
I wish I could say that the entirety of our time together was unicorns and rainbows, because it was not. Sadly, the man she married was a SELFISH man, and I wanted things to go according to my plans. This lead to many rough waters and edges, and Heather became the tool used by the Lord to shape me into the man He wanted me to be. After one particularly rough stretch in our married life, I remember reading a book by Max Lucado called, “Just like Jesus.” It was here that I learned to understand a piece of Scripture from it’s proper context. Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” In order to love my wife, (and now daughter) properly, I needed to die to myself in order to live for them. It is in the sacrifice that love is born, expressed, and grown. John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down his life for his friends.” The Lord has shown me over the course of time and through His word, that love requires sacrifice. Jesus led the way when He chose to love all of mankind by carrying that Cross and dying for us all. The shedding of His blood became the atonement required for the sins committed by humanity.
But dying on the Cross was not the end! In fact, it was actually the beginning, and should we choose to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, it is then that the journey begins. Can you imagine it? For all of the glorious good that can be found in human relationship, there is so much hardship and difficulty as well. Emotions, miscommunication, betrayal, and more are all symptoms of the brokenness of humanity. But with God, through Jesus, there is none of this. We have access to someone who knows EVERY detail of our lives, and LONGS to interact with us on levels that are deeply personal, and filled with a love like we cannot imagine. But just like there’s a suitor, there is also a betrayer who is bent on capturing our attention away from the One who gave EVERYTHING to rescue us. Relationships require effort, time, and sacrifice in order to be strong and thriving. If this is not how we see our relationship with the Lord, rest assured that He is only a prayer away and is LONGING for the connection. Should you have questions, feel free to ask someone who’s walked the road ahead of you, because if it were me, I would prefer to know about the pitfall in the road, long before I fell into it. As always, I hope you’ll…