I remember the devotion of your youth,
how as a bride you loved me…. (Je 2:2).
For anyone who has been married, the exhilaration of the wedding day is without a doubt, one of life’s most memorable and joyous occasions.
For anyone who has come to Christ, the day of your salvation can serve as the same day of joy, exhilaration and excitement. However, just like any marriage, our relationship with God takes work. No one can say, “I’m married now, the work is done.” We must say, “I’m married now, the work has just begun.”
When God delivered Israel into the promised land they gleaned with excitement over their covenant relationship to God, but it didn’t take long for them to forget their covenant and worship false gods.
It is not far from us to stray from our covenant making promises either. The vows we make on our wedding day can very easily become second place to the selfishness of our hearts. The walk we started with God on the day of our salvation can prove exciting and life giving, but can soon be set up on the shelf as the busyness of life and the idols of our hearts start to weasel their way in.
For any good marriage to grow you must constantly be investing into it. No marriage flourishes because it just happens to exists. No relationship with God grows or flourishes without consistent investment into it either. One cannot say, “I am saved, I have finished the race.” No, the work has just begun on the day of your salvation. It will prove to be hard work ahead for you. The heart will often want to burrow down into places of false comfort, away from sanctification, where life is easy.
However, no abundant life lies there. Just as the bond of marriage growths through humility, transparency and repentance, so does our relationship with God. We cannot experience the fullness of our covenant relationship with God if we are not willing to let God into the most vulnerable places of our lives. We will never fully experience complete fellowship with Him if we do not open ourselves fully to His grace.
The beautiful grace of God is that He is faithful and stays true to His covenants. We can rest assured that in our repentance He receives us back fully. If God were like us, we would not last long in relationship with Him. He would have been done with us long ago. Praise God that He is not like us. He is faithful, even when we are not.
This is why, I believe, so many marriages and friendships fail. They get hard and begin to require humility, complete and total forgiveness and the re-establishing of trust. We’d much rather cut things off and start over with the exhilaration of a new beginning than do the hard work of learning to practice the grace of a covenant keeping God.
We say we have forgiven, but we hold a grudge. We say we are done with it, but we stew over it. We say we trust, but we constantly second guess. What if God treated us the same way? It would be a sad state of affairs and we could never get out from under it. There is a grace we must live in if we want to grow as Christians. To negate such grace puts us in a place of isolation, stifles our growth as an individual and keeps our relationships from flourishing into the places of abundance, for His namesake.
Lord, I know that you are faithful. I long to be faithful to you in the same way. I know that I am stubborn, prideful and insecure. Yet, I long to be steadfast, immovable and trusting, because of Christ in me. I want to go to hard places with you, because this is where abundant life lives. I want to grow in relationships with others with the same covenant keeping grace that you have showered on me. I want to practice the same kind of forgiveness that you have extended to me. Help me to live in the place of grace, for your namesake, in Jesus name, amen.