I felt a little sheepish when I read back over the last post in preparation for this one and realized I hadn’t clearly stated that marrying Brett and the privilege of being Miss Britt’s Momma were definitely my biggest blessings. I’m hoping that the sentiment was a given and needed no explanation, but just in case — Biddinger Duo, I love you so and I give thanks for the very good gifts you are each day.
Even though I love the Dynamic Duo with all my heart, and from the seat I now occupy in time can honestly say “I wouldn’t change a thing,” I would be less than honest if I didn’t confess that my life has taken some turns that I did not expect when I said “I do.” If you’re married, I bet the same is true for you. If you’re single, honey, it will be. Not many of us, when we get married and say “for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse,” have any clue what we’re saying.
Just imagine if we actually comprehended the commitment we were making as we exchanged vows. And do you Marilyn, promise to love and cherish Brett even when you are celebrating your 5th anniversary and realize he still hasn’t learned to read your mind? Do you promise to honor and partner with him in the pursuit of your dreams when after having been married 10 years he still drives too fast and rides the cars in front of him? And will you love him above all others when he insists you buy a dryer without seeing it in person and it melts all your favorite socks?
Lest we think all the future revelations are for the bride, I’m certain most grooms have no idea what is in store for them when romance meets reality. Poor Brett. I’m so certain he did not sign up for toothbrushes slathered with dripping white goo, eyebrow hair sculptures in the sink, or “winter legs.” And Girlfriend, if you’re from Michigan or any place cold weather sets in, you know what I am talking about there.
I think it’s probably best that we don’t stare straight into the face of real life and see our spouses-to-be without at least a hint of rose colored glasses prior to our marriage. Imagine if Brett had looked at the ankle bones above my lace covered wedding shoes and seen the shadow of the coming winter. We did get married in September so if it hadn’t been a special occasion . . . . . I’m just sayin.
Picture what might happen if we knew the unsanded, ungroomed truth looming just the other side of the honeymoon? How many of us would stand firm in our desire to be together until “death do us part” if we knew in advance about the hair sculptures in the not-so-distant future or the melted socks on the horizon? Might we decide that dealing with the imperfections and unmet expectations just wasn’t worth it? Unfortunately, because I know the fickleness of my own heart, I can state with certainty that apart from Christ, my love is conditional at best and self-centered at worst.
Unlike the unfailing love that I have received from my faithful God and Savior, my love comes with an asterisk –*until my expectations aren’t met. And my asterisk love is not limited to my husband; it extends to my Divine Bridegroom as well. Can you imagine the God who is jealous for me (Exodus 34:14) offering all that He is to keep my heart safe, secure, and wanting me to be devoted solely unto Him being met with: “I will love only you if ___________.”? Your fill-in-the-blank might be different than mine but we can easily come up with some general answers to paint a pretty good picture of the things that steal our attention and our affection. Might the “I LOVE YOU” we profess be more accurate this way: I love you.*
* if my children are happy and content.
* if I am successful and happy in my job.
* if I have a nice home and money in the bank.
* if I do not experience pain—physical or emotional.
I might not have hit on yours, but I bet you know without a lot of thought what comes after your asterisk.
Here’s the thing. God doesn’t tell us to love only Him because it does a thing for Him. Remember, regardless of who or how I am God has always been, is today, and will continue to be perfect (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). He needs nothing from me (Acts 17:25). He has no unmet inner need. It really took me a long time to get over the notion (I pray you aren’t offended by this and ask you to stick with me on it) that God was a “glory hound.” I had this warped picture of a red-eyed God with a lightning bolt in the sky demanding that all eyes and all hearts be focused on Him. I had no idea that an undivided heart served me – not Him.
That’s right. His desire for my heart to be undivided, to love Him with no asterisks, serves only me. Because only when my eyes and my heart are fully pursuing the God who is Unfailing Love can I hope to begin to love others. It is His love living in me that reaches beyond my human limitations and loves my husband, my child, my friends, and my enemies. When I am firmly determined to love Him with everything I am, when I am resolved to be filled with His Spirit –no asterisks involved—I will live life to the full. I will possess life beyond my wildest imagination when I live, move and have my being in Him (Acts 17:28). This is not only the future inheritance He has set aside for me (1 Peter 1:3-6). It’s the asterisk free living He calls me to now.
Sisters, the Beautiful One has declared that He is enthralled with your beauty (Psalm 45:11). He promises that His great love toward you will stand firm forever and that His faithfulness was established in Heaven Itself (Psalm 89:2). He takes great delight in you and rejoices over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17)–and doesn’t your heart just know that it’s a love song. Yes, the One who is Love has chosen you to be His beloved and based on the authority of His Word, I guarantee that you can search the pages of your Bible from now until the end of our age and . . . . . you will never find an asterisk.