People do not naturally gravitate toward life long commitment, great communication, intentional decision to love regardless of reciprocation, humility, forgiveness, or daily consideration for the needs of a loved one above yourself, in other words, what it takes to have a successful marriage.
Yet, we attempt it anyway, we seek it out anyway. With enough effort and perserverance, some reach marrital success. What drives those people to make it work? That kind of love is so rare that when it is found we are driven to do whatever it takes to make it last. The kind of love that can only be found in committment of that magnitude, the kind of love offers ultimate security, the kind of love that offers complete freedom in who you are, including the unwaivering belief in your potential and the the forgiveness of your failures.
Even with every proactive effort to sustain this love, going above what we give any other relationship, we are still imperfect and fail. If you know this kind of love, then you know how aweful it feels to discover you have caused pain to your partner, it can feel like the worst kind of failure. I have felt it and sometimes I think it hurts me more than it hurts him. Despite your rock solid commitment, it can plant seeds of doubt that you created a crack in your foundation that could eventually lead to a rift, or worse. You can begin to beat yourself up over it, detesting whatever it is in you that caused their pain, but that will lead you to make good changes. It will spur you to learn and grow from that, cutting out that hurtful character, determined to patch up any weakness in that foundation and never to make that mistake again. Whatever it takes to make it last.
Strange how we can be driven to such devotion for an imperfect love with an imperfect person, yet a relationship with our perfect God in his perfect love rarely seems to produce such results.
"People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord."
Our human relationships are love-driven, we give something tangible and we get something tangible back. But in the absence of the physical, the measurable, how can we succeed at a relationship with God on a love-driven basis, when the love is much more abstract? And that's why I feel this quote is bang on, we have to be grace-driven to reach the same kind of devotion to God, because even though God's grace can't be quantified, it is something we can qualify.
As a society we have such a poor understanding of what 'good' truly is that by comparison our definition of 'bad' is equally watered down. But only God is good. That means the rest of us who aren't God, yup, you guessed it, that makes us bad. So, if we think of every bad action we've had to forgive, or be forgiven of, it is but a drop in the ocean of forgiveness God grants us daily, because our bad actions are in fact every single thing we choose to do apart from him. You may love many people whom you have had to forgive, but do you love and forgive every single person who has ever hurt you, and for every hurt they have ever inflicted on you? God does. A simple comparison of our own efforts in forgiveness proves the immeasurable grace God showers on us.
His grace, the perfect security, the perfect acceptance, the perfect faith, and the perfect redeemer. If we let it drive us that is. Will we let the depth of that grace devote us to the same quest for a solid relationship with Christ? The same commitment to change anything necessary to stay close to the one you love?
As the first Martin Luther tried to get the Church to see nearly 500 hundred years ago, repentence should be the whole life of the faithful, not an afterthought. "When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said “Repent,” he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance." Repentance is to be the Christian’s continual posture. Hundreds of years later and we still don't really understand repentence. Maybe it's in the way we define it?
Until recently I've associated repentence with regret or remorse, which are both reactive....they happen after the wrong doing, and quite frankly they are a bit passive, they don't really require any action. But our pastor studied the origins of the word repentence and part of the meaning was to abhor the committed sin, and abhor means to regard with extreme aversion. Now that's taking action, being compelled to proactively avoid sin!
Does sin make you go 'oops!' or 'never again'? Will you hope for better luck with temptation next time, or will you cultivate a loathing for all that is apart from God? If we can take a stance against that which threatens our marriages, we can posture ourselves to protect our commitment to our groom, Jesus Christ.
The only way I know how to even begin assuming that posture permanently is on my knees. And this is my prayer:
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.