February 6, 2019

His Vow Came First

Last week my husband Kyle and I went away overnight, and as we always do when we take a step back and view our life together, we marvel at where we've come. We're no longer young newlyweds, young parents, nor young church planters, and the process of becoming not young has been a harrowing journey. There have been hard-won lessons, hard-fought victories, and there have most certainly been tears. There is only one explanation for how we've made it through some of our darkest days intact: there is a God, and he's carried us.
Driving home, the bare trees blurring into gray outside my car window, I thought about our wedding day and the vows I made to Kyle. I vowed to be faithful, and I meant it, and I have been, but I was so incredibly young when we married, and I really had no idea what it would take to fulfill my promises.    

I thought then about what faithfulness is, and how a steadfast marriage is a picture of a greater reality of God's faithfulness.

Because sometimes I feel as if I'm shouldering the world. When I think ahead to what needs to be done, or when I consider what others within my reach need, or when I wonder how I can make the future unfold in just the way I'd like, I feel the heavy weight of my desired faithfulness.

This is me, playing God again, attempting to pick up precisely what he says I should, no must, cast upon him.

I'm learning, however slowly, to be human, and part of the learning is accepting that God himself is not impatient with my humanness.

Because I certainly am.

But God vowed his faithfulness to me long before I gave myself to him, and the treasure of this brings me such comfort. When I consider where I've come in this life, I know I've only been able to remain faithful because he is faithful. He's held me up and together. He's upheld me when I in my weakness couldn't hold onto anything.

The seams of my self--the self-righteousness, self-perseveration, self-focus--have burst open within the past year, and it's been as painful as it sounds. But it's been the sort of pain that's like a high fever burning off what harms the body; it's the good pain of sanctification burning off death, precisely so life might flourish.

God's motion has felt slow at times, but then his conviction comes like driving rain, and in those times I haven't been able to capture all the truth and grace and hold it together as one. I find myself wanting to "get it," to learn the lesson, complete the assignment, move onward and upward.

And there it is again, the humanness like a prison cell, my frantic turning of the key of self-ability as my supposed way out.

However, when I consider the present moment, my humanness so real and constricting, I remember that he is faithful. He will always be faithful to lead me, help me, and move in me, because this is who he is. No matter how weak or frail I feel in my faithfulness to him, he is delighted in the current working of the Spirit in me.

My life is not dependent upon my own faithfulness.

It's dependent upon his, and this is what it means to be a Christian, that his vow of love came before mine.

But God proves his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8