January 14, 2011
Love is a Decision
by Sarah Phillips, Crosswalk.com Family Editor
Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. Matthew 7: 24-25
Our family is in the middle of one, long wedding season. I spent 2010 planning my November wedding, and over Christmas one of my sisters announced her engagement. It looks like 2011 will be their year. I've also attended more weddings of friends than I can count.
In the midst of these fairy tale weddings, though, I've found myself absorbed in the vows more than the frills of the celebration. Watching young couples pledge their lives to one another somehow transcends the romance of the wedding day. The joining of two lives until death is so sublime many have questioned if such love can truly last or if the idea of finding one's soul mate is just as much a fairy tale as the wedding day itself.
But many a seasoned couple will tell the cynics that while feelings of passion may have initially fueled their decision to marry, much of the success of married life depends not on the whims of feelings or the circumstances of life, but on the free will choice to be together and stay together. To quote the pastor's words during a traditional wedding ceremony, these couples "come freely and without reservation" to each other not just on the first day, but every day of life. And while this daily decision to love the other does not always come easily, combined with God's grace, it allows two people to experience intimacy that surpasses all other human relationships.
You've seen them - older couples who have twinkles in their eyes and cherish their years together.
As I watched each newly married couples begin their journeys -- and begin my own -- I couldn't help but ponder how God's design for earthly marriage mirrors our faith walk. Marriage, after all, is one of the most profound symbols found throughout the Old and New Testaments.
Just as couples must enter freely into marriage, Christ freely suffered and died for us, and in turn, our faith journey begins with a free will decision to accept His gift. And just as the initial commitment on the altar requires daily decisions to love for the marriage to thrive, our initial acceptance of Christ leads to a series of decisions to love God and continue to walk in the faith.
Our deacon, reflecting on the verses above, pointed out the emphasis Christ puts on our actions, our will. Even when the storms of life beat us down, our decision to remain committed to Christ and the Christian life will keep us connected to God, helping us navigate the unknowns. And ultimately, the decision to love will allow each one of us to know divine love that surpasses all human relationships.
You've seen them - individuals facing death or old age with twinkles in their eyes and peace in their hearts.
Perhaps you're going through a dark time where God feels distant. In a culture that increasingly sees divorce as no big deal, you may be finding the decision to stay on the narrow path of faith, to daily choose virtue over vice, exhausting and even foreign.
The good news is that no matter how weather-beaten we get on our journey, God is the perfect Spouse, forever faithful and forever walking beside us even when we stray from the original path. His unwavering grace and love are always available to us, and He welcomes us with open arms when we come home.
Intersecting Faith & Life: Just as God gives spouses the gift of each other in marriage, I've found God often works through others to encourage us in our faith. Think about the people He's placed in your life right now. Is there someone who needs you to walk along side them for support? Or perhaps you're struggling. Take comfort in knowing that storms are normal, and God especially treasures our decision to remain faithful when the decision is made during tough times.