[x_custom_headline type=”left” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″]In 2010 my wife Brenda and I celebrated our thirtieth wedding anniversary. That day was special for many reasons. One of those was that our anniversary was on a Sunday that year, and I had made some special plans to celebrate this occasion with the congregation of the church where we are pastors.[/x_custom_headline]
When my wife and I were married on July 18, 1980, my meager income only allowed me to purchase for her a rather moderate wedding band. It was nice, and she and I were very proud of it. She loved me, she loved the ring, and she already knew I had done the very best I could for our station in life, and level of faith at the time. And for thirty years she wore that wedding ring proudly, never complaining that her ring was not as big and beautiful as those rings that so many other women wore. My wife has far too much class to ever complain like that anyway!
However, I had decided that on this thirtieth anniversary I would ask for that ring back, and then present her with a new, much higher quality wedding ring during the Sunday service. On that morning, down on my knee in front of my bride of thirty years, with the congregation watching and witnessing it, I placed this new ring on her finger. It was a very special moment for all of us.
There was something else we did on that anniversary Sunday morning as well. We had informed our church family that if they would like to ask us questions about our marriage or family that morning, to submit those questions in writing a week or so in advance. We would then select from them a few that we felt we would have time to answer during that service. One of the most common questions we were asked was about how we lasted for thirty years, especially with all of the demands of life and ministry upon us, when so many other couples, including Christian and even ministry couples, were on their second and third marriages during that same span of years. Although we could have talked for some time answering that particular question, instead we decided to keep the answer simple.
The answer we gave our congregation about how our marriage lasted for thirty years was this: [highlight]Not even one time in our marriage have we ever discussed getting a divorce.[/highlight] Never. When we married we weren’t going to simply try each other out, or stay together until we decided we didn’t want to do that anymore. We made a lifetime commitment to one another. And that pledge that we made to each other in 1980 was a vow we took very seriously.
Additionally, we don’t watch movies or television shows where people commit adultery and where couples cheat on each other. We keep away from garbage like this, and recommend that others do as well.
The reason for my story above, is that a lot of people come to Jesus, but soon start talking “divorce” as soon as pressure comes. Or as soon as serving the Lord faithfully becomes inconvenient, or less exciting to them than it had been. This usually happens because of their own change of focus. And when that changes, they start looking for the exit in their relationship with Him.
The truth is that nothing in your life will ever really improve or endure unless you become totally committed to the Lord Jesus Christ. For example, like my marriage story above, if you are not committed to your own marriage, the odds of it ever improving and becoming all God intended, let alone becoming a long lasting, fulfilling relationship, are not very good. By the same token, you must understand that from your commitment to Jesus stems all of the other commitments in your life. If you’ll abandon Jesus, you’ll likely bail out on every other commitment too. This may happen gradually, but it will happen.
Look at what Jesus said to the Church in the book of Revelation:
[x_blockquote cite=”Revelation 2:4 Amplified Bible” type=”left”]“But I have this [one charge to make] against you: that you have left (abandoned) the love that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love].”[/x_blockquote]
Jesus is speaking this to the end-time church; to believers in the day we live in. To be clear, He’s talking to you and me! He is soon to come again for His faithful ones, so He warns us to not abandon Him. Yet He is telling us that there are those whose life has been completely changed by His love who will desert Him anyway.
[highlight]It’s funny how you can read a passage of Scripture for years and yet walk away misquoting it.[/highlight] Even though the words in this verse are clear and unmistakable, I somehow thought Jesus said that people lost their first love. But Jesus didn’t say lost, He said left.
People lose things by accident. They don’t set out to do it. It’s not on purpose. But what Jesus is telling us, is that there are people who will walk away from Him on purpose. He is telling us about those who packed up and left Him intentionally. As a pastor, I have witnessed this very thing many times, and by people I would have thought would never turn away from Him, after all He had done for them. But that is exactly what they did.
We are warned of this in other verses as well. Let’s look at a couple of them.
[x_blockquote cite=”Hebrews 10:38 KJV” type=”left”]“Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.”[/x_blockquote]
The Lord is not pleased with those who draw back from serving Him. Instead of living by faith, which is what true Christians are supposed to do, they slowly begin pulling away from Him. Does this describe you? Jesus tells us what He thinks about this lack of commitment to Him, just as clearly below.
[x_blockquote cite=”Luke 9:62 KJV” type=”left”]“And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”[/x_blockquote]
Wow! Jesus makes it impossible to misunderstand His meaning. And contrary to what many people may think, Jesus is not being mean or rough on us here. It is simply that He knows that only a total commitment to Him will give us what we’ll need to make it in life.
[highlight]Total commitment produces the power to stay put under pressure.[/highlight] Unconditional commitment to Jesus Christ unleashes the power of God within us. It stabilizes and establishes us. Without this staying power, you will never enjoy the abundant benefits of longevity in anything in your life that really matters. And you will often lose in the battles of life.
I pray that you haven’t been considering the “D” word with your relationship with Jesus. Stay committed. And remain a branch connected to the Vine. And I promise you, you will never regret it.