41 and Counting

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Today my husband and I have been together 41 years. We will have been married 40 years in a few weeks from now. We were together a year before we married. The marriage has not been a bed of roses. It’s not been a “and they rode off into the sunset enjoying the rest of their lives together” type of marriage. We have had difficulties, challenges and even a period of questioning whether or not we wanted to stay together. We did and we have because we made a commitment in front of God, family and friends. We believed in that commitment and honored that commitment. 
As I was reflecting back on the years today I realized suddenly I have made two commitments in my lifetime. I have kept them both. Along with making a commitment to my husband at one point I made a commitment to God. I committed to give myself wholly to Him just like I did Greg. I made a commitment to love and honor both Greg and God. I can tell you on August 24 I made a commitment to Greg. I can’t give you a date when I made a commitment to God. You see I have been in church all my life. I know when I was in Jr. High or High School I went to church camp and started my journey with God. I also know on my Walk to Emmaus my faith took a more serious approach. So was that my commitment date? I don’t know. I don’t think it matters to God and I know it doesn’t matter to me when I did it. I just know I did it and I take commitments seriously. 
Just like my marriage my faith has been rocky at times. I have questioned God, challenged Him and wondered what He was doing with my life. It all didn’t make sense, but just like my marriage even in those times I decided not to walk away; to stick it out. I have never regretted the decisions I have made to stick it out with my husband or God. 
One of the first scriptures I memorized as a child was this one, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”Deuteronomy 6:5 Very simply put we are called to make a commitment to love God. Just like loving Greg with the same energy and same commitment I was to love God. I took that to heart. 
The traditional marriage vows goes something like this, “I, (name), take you (name), to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.” There were charges I was to make to my husband, there were laws I was to obey and I was commanded to love and cherish him every day until death separates one of us. 
Deuteronomy 11:1, “You shall therefore love the LORD your God, and always keep His charge, His statutes, His ordinances, and His commandments.” God has set forth statues, ordinances and commandments. Just like my marriage vows I wanted to keep those vows. But, what were those statues, ordinances and commandments? Over the years I have come to know my husband really well. The first few years were tough. I didn’t really know about his habits (good and bad), I didn’t know his likes and his dislikes and I sure didn’t understand about not pushing buttons. So, over the years I studied him. That’s what I needed to do with God. I needed to study Him. I needed to know what His likes and dislikes were, I needed to know what buttons I could push with God and which ones was best to leave alone. I studied His word and learned the commandments and his ordinances and his statues. 
 Joshua 23:1,”So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the LORD your God.” Take diligent heed? What does that mean? We all know diligent means to work hard. Heed means to observe, pay attention to and listen to. I was to work hard at paying attention to loving God. I was to listen and observe. Over the years I needed to listen to Greg, observe what moved him in what direction and I needed to pay attention to him. That takes commitment!
1 Kings 8:61, “And may your hearts be fully committed to the LORD our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.” The key phrase here is” fully committed.” Fully; not half full, not ¾ full, but fully. I can’t go into this commitment if I am not committed to giving 100%. I couldn’t go into my marriage if I was not 100% committed to Greg. 
I also had to go into this marriage thinking about what I could do to make Greg’s life better. What could I do to make him happy? I couldn’t go into this marriage wondering what Greg could do for me. It wasn’t about what I was going to get out of the marriage, but what was I willing to put into it. That’s the way it is with faith. I soon realized it wasn’t about what God was /is going to do for me. It’s wasn’t about receiving the riches of life now and living a trouble free life. I had to rethink my faith and realize it’s not what God can do for me, but what I can do for God. Out of love for Greg I wanted to please him and do good things for him. Out of my love for God I wanted to do things that would please Him. I wanted to live a life Greg would be proud of and say, “Yea, she’s my wife and grin.” I wanted to live a life where God would say, “Yea, she’s one of mine and He’d grin.”
You can have this life too. It can be in a marriage, it can be in a job, and more importantly it can be in your faith. My faith and marriage is successful because of one little word commitment. Commitment is a pledge, a vow, an obligation and a promise. I made a promise 40 years ago to love and to cherish one man till death parts us. I have made a promise to love and cherish God until death over takes me. It’s not been easy or a bed of roses, but as I look back I am glad I made a commitment to both of those things. It’s been worth it. 
My prayer:
Thanks for giving me Greg and for him hanging in there with me; walking this journey with me even though it’s been rough. Thank you God for hanging in there with me; I know it’s been rough. I know just like Greg I have disappointed you, but together we hung in there and I think we make a pretty good team. I don’t know what lies ahead for Greg and I. I don’t know what lies ahead with you and I, God, but I do know I have made a commitment and I will honor those commitments as long as I am able. Thank you for blessing our lives and walking the journey with us. Amen.
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