“Naught reserving on the altar,
Of my heart was set aflame,
My ambitions, plans, and wishes,
At His feet in ashes lay.”
– “I Will Praise Him” Margaret J. Harris, 1898
I attended the wedding of dear friends this weekend, and due to the fact that I was leading the singing in the wedding, I had a front row seat to witness their faces as they eagerly and happily said their vows. It is a beautiful thing to witness when a loving, devoted couple give theirselves to each other in a wedding vow.
I couldn’t help but think back to my own wedding as I stood admiring this young couple. We too stood in the middle of a church, between the altars, surrounded by our brothers and sisters in Christ, and solemnly vowed to God and the witnesses gathered there that we would be faithful to one another until death do us part.
We left that ceremony for a joyful reception, then left together, alone, to begin our married life. We had a week alone on honeymoon before we came home and set up a household, replete with careers and responsibility.
The joy of our wedding, and the sincerity of my vow, couldn’t have prepared me for learning how to be a husband. I would love to say I have managed it perfectly from that time until now (a wonderful thirteen years in a few weeks!), but I have not. And not because of loss of love or affection, but simply because with each week and month and year life brought new challenges that required learning and adjustment. With the birth of our first child, we suddenly had new roles in our home. Mom and Dad! Suddenly I had to learn not only how to be a Dad, but how to be a husband while being a Dad.
Along the way, as we picked up new duties, new joys, new challenges, I often found myself adding new vows to my wedding vows. “I will be faithful and love my wife and promote her holiness and happiness when I am sick, and we are living paycheck to paycheck, and the refrigerator is broke, and my business is struggling, and my truck is broke, and I have family members in crisis, and the grass needs cutting, and the pool water is green, and I have church duties that need attention.” I could not possibly have been prepared for all this on my wedding day!
As is often the case, our marriages can help us see our relationship with Christ better.
When I started my journey with Christ as a ten year old boy, I had absolutely no clue about all that would be required of me down the road. And thankfully, God didn’t require me to understand the future. When I gave Him all that my heart and mind contained, and pledged the rest of my life to Him, He blessed me with the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and I was sanctified. (Hallelujah for it!)
But just a little while down the road, and God chastised me for trying to fit in with cool friends. At that moment, I had a choice to make: was I going to yield that to God too? Or was I going to try to hold on to my cool friends with one hand and serve God with the other?
“Lord, I give you that too.”
When I was pressured to go to parties where I knew I would be tempted to compromise my faith, I was faced with a new decision (this one was harder than I ever expected it would be).
“Lord, that too.”
And it didn’t end there. I could fill a page or two with the things, people, moments, wishes, dreams, longings, that God has asked me to yield to Him. I don’t expect this to ever end. I have every expectation that I will be 81 years old, entering a Nursing Home, and facing new challenges. My prayer is that I will always be willing to yield to the Holy Spirit’s nudgings.
I would encourage you, my friend, to always be looking for opportunities to yield something to Christ. It is in the laying down, the sacrificing, of ourselves that we find the fertile ground that the seed of the Word of God can flourish in. If we become stubborn to God and His teachings, our spiritual growth will be stunted. If unchecked, this behavior will lead to our spiritual death.
I say let’s choose life!