“Be still and know that I am God…”
Psalm 46:10a (NRSV)
Whenever I see a couple who are obviously in the throes of new love, my heart both melts with happiness for them and twinges a bit for my going-on 12 year marriage. I find myself thinking back to the days when my husband and I first met; those wonderful weeks and months of discovering one another. During that time, I remember noticing one night (while we were vacationing in Charleston), a couple eating at the same restaurant we were who ate their entire meal without saying one word to one another. Being giddy with passion, I assured myself that we would never become like “that couple”. But of course, years later, our relationship has mellowed. Considerably.
Being a new Christian is a lot like falling in love. Everything around you seems new; the world is a joyous place, everyone is your friend, and all you want to do is share your happiness and elation with everyone. Some look at you and either smile; glad for you and perhaps remembering their own similar feelings, or frown; wondering if you’ve gone off the deep end and if you’ll ever return to the way you were before.
As “wise old marrieds” will counsel their younger counterparts, romantic relationships will change over time. Yes, you’re in love now and hopefully always will love one another, but times might get tough; there will be challenges, disagreements, and disappointments. But, there will also be joy, great joy; and you’ll experience all of these moments and emotions with one another as you grow in relationship together.
Similarly, our relationship with Christ evolves and grows. Many of us likely start off running like a horse out of the gate, exuberant with our new found belief, desiring to tell all, to help all, to do all. Sooner or later though, we’ll hit some challenges. We’ll discover that making the decision to follow Christ does not equate to living on easy street; in fact, quite the contrary. Life will continue to throw at us disappointments, hurts, and perhaps tragedies. We may find ourselves at odds with fellow Christians over matters of theology or the administration of a ministry at church. We may find ourselves longing for days when our passion was new. We may find our faith shaken over and over again. We may get discouraged and want to give up.
As couples experiencing challenging times in their relationships may often remember their halcyon days and find in those memories the strength to persevere despite arguments and brokenness, it’s in the midst of trying times when Christians can likewise renew their strength of heart by remembering all that God has provided for us in the past, and draw from these truths the promise and guarantee that He is with us in the present and will be there in the future; He who meets us wherever we are on our path of faith, but loves us too much to leave us there.
“You have done many things for us, O Lord our God; there is no one like you! You have made many wonderful plans for us.” Psalm 40:5 (GNB)
“When I thought, ‘My foot is slipping”, your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer me soul.” Psalm 94:18-19 (NRSV)
“Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually. Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgements he has uttered.” Psalm 105:4-5 (NRSV)
“On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul.” Psalm 138:3
And as for “that couple” in Charleston; I’ve come to realize that, for all I know, I really didn’t know their story. They might have been giving each other the silent treatment after a knock down drag out argument on the way to the restaurant. Or, they could have been tired from a long day of sightseeing and were content to eat their meal without expanding the energy to drudge up something to say. Or, they may have been one of those couples that were able to talk to one another or not, just being in one another’s presence was enough. In any case, they were together and perhaps that was all they needed at that moment in time.
Sometimes resting in Christ’s presence, grace, love, and strength; silently anticipating what is next, is all that we need, too.
“I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12-13 (NRSV)
He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again. 2 Corinthians 1:10 (NRSV)