Golden wedding anniversaries, at least in a Florida senior living community, are not that uncommon anymore. And as my bride and I approach that milestone (it’s over five years away for us!), my thoughts have been drifting in that way, especially in the wake of Valentine’s Day, and all the hullabaloo over that holiday.
Gerald and Janice were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, and Pastor Jones decided to take advantage of their longevity by using their story as a sermon illustration. He asked Gerald to come on stage and share some insight into how he managed to live with the same woman all those years.
Gerald turned to the congregation and said, “Well, I treated her with respect and spent money on her — but mostly I took her traveling on special occasions.”
The pastor asked, “Trips to where?”
“For our 25th anniversary,” Gerald answered, “I took her to Beijing, China.”
The crowd nodded and murmured in appreciation. When things quieted down, the pastor winked and said: “What a terrific example you are to husbands, Gerald. So, tell us where you’re going now for your 50th anniversary?”
Gerald replied, “I’m going to go back and get her.”
Ugggh! Another one may help!
There once was a young scholarly bachelor who wrote a treatise on the theme, “What Is Love?” His research was extensive. Numerous books were reviewed, and many months were spent in the organization and development of the material gathered.
When his work was ready for submission to a publisher, arrangements were made with a public stenographer to type the manuscript.
Walking into her office for the first time, something unusual and unexpected happened. Eyes met! Pulses quickened! A strange feeling swept over both of them. It was love at first sight!
The subject of the writer’s paper was no longer a mere theory to him; it became reality as he personally discovered its satisfying rewards. By this exciting contact he learned and understood more about his topic in a few seconds than he had gleaned through all his tedious studies. For the first time, he “experienced” what he had been writing about.
Ahhh! Much better! Call it love if you will, or infatuation, lust, or any other of a number of terms, but when this young fellow walked into that office that day, that which had previously only been theory became a very definite and distinct reality.
This leads me to the question for the moment: When was the last time you “experienced” God? Oh I know, you say you go to church, and you experience God there… well, sometimes anyway… maybe. But when was the last time you really experienced God?
No, I’m not talking about some ecstatic or otherwise phenomenal experience. To “experience” something or someone means to perceive, know, understand, or become increasingly better acquainted with” that individual.
What I am asking is simply: Is God a reality in your life? Or is He simply a once-a-week theory that you tolerate because you know you should? How do you “perceive, know, understand, or become increasingly better acquainted with” God?
Every day of our lives we are confronted with choices. These choices call upon us to distinguish between the truth of God, which helps us to perceive, know, understand and become increasingly better acquainted with Him, and the cruel lies of Satan, the very enemy of our souls.
Daily, sometimes, even moment by moment, we are forced into that decision-making mode.
For example, one of the lies which seems to constantly reverberate in the inner recesses of our minds is that “I am unworthy and unacceptable.”
Yet, we discover in God’s Word that indeed that is not true. For those who know and follow Christ, he tells us that he has “accepted us to the glory of God” (Romans 15:7). Another of Satan’s deceiving mantras is that “I am all alone in this world.”
But God tells us in his Word that “I’ll live in you and you’ll never have to be alone as I had to be when I died on the cross for you” (Gal. 2:20; Heb. 13:5-6). Another lie that we often believe about ourselves is that “I am not special to anyone or loved.”
But again, God’s words tell us something different. His message, which should daily echo in our hearts and minds is that “You are a precious person to Me, and I am continually thinking about you” (Psa. 139:17-18). And Satan will also attempt to make each one of us believe that “I do not have what it takes to be successful in life.”
But God asks us to remember instead that “I’m continually devoted to you and will provide all your need to fulfill My purpose for you” (Rom. 8:31-32, 38-39).
Some years ago, a fellow had a large limb on a cherry tree in his back yard that was wind-blown and broken during a springtime storm. Even though the branch was only connected to the trunk of the tree by a very slender strand of wood, the fellow left it attached, and was surprised when the branch began to blossom.
Later, when the tree began to bear its full course of fruit, this branch only bore a small and limited amount of fruit. The branches which were fully connected to the tree were the ones that really bore “much” fruit!
In the same way, you and I can experience God fully only as we are connected to the Vine, fully and completely dependent upon Him for our daily survival! Do not believe the lies that Satan loves to throw at us.
Instead, every moment of every day, we need to allow God’s truth to feed our hearts and souls.
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the Hillsboro Times-Gazette and the Wilmington News Journal. He is also the former Pastor of Faith Community Church in Hillsboro and Port William UMC.