This Friday Doris and I will celebrate our 33 wedding anniversary. Most of you who knew us at number 25 probably doubted we would make it this far, What am I talking about, most who knew us at number 3 had those same doubts. To all of who doubters I say these spiritual words, “Nananananaaana!”
Well, actually if you knew us then, you know that God is awesome. He has performed a miracle in our lives and the last 8 years have been so different, so full of Him that we rejoice every day over His grace and mercy to us. I love my wife in a way I never imagined because I have finally realized that God loves ME in a way that I never imagined, and out of that….well, this is getting mushy. You get the picture.
So, every year for the last 8 years we have celebrated our anniversary in a big way. We take 4 days and find a new, exciting place. We go to a place we cannot afford and spend money we do not have to remind ourselves what God has done. We have stayed at a bed and breakfast in Pennsylvania, at the old downtown Sheraton in Chattanooga. We’ve gone back to our roots in Ohio and stayed in a beautiful house in Orlando. And we stayed at the Biltmore, a mansion in Asheville, NC for what may have been the best one of all. This year, not so much. This year we are staying home and babysitting our grandson. No trip. No room service. No late night, candlelit dinners. Just toys in the living room, spaghetti-o’s on the couch, and 30 episodes of Thomas the train. AND WE ARE SO EXCITED WE CAN’T WAIT!!!
Somebody might say, “What a sacrifice. That’s too bad what you are giving up.” But we say, “Are you kidding? Where’s the sacrifice? We love him so much that it is a delight. We don’t even consider it giving something up to get to spend a whole weekend with Jon-Mical.” Now in case you think there is no point to my little story, let me make one quick. Your walk with God is not all anniversary cake and strolls on the beach. In fact, the call of God on our lives is to live holy and Godly. To repent. To pick up a cross and follow Him. Brennan Manning says, “The tone of the Christ of God is not always sweet and consoling. The gospel is the Good News of gratuitous salvation, but it does not promise a picnic on a green lawn….It is a summons to personal holiness, on going conversion, and new creation through union with Christ Jesus.” (The Importance of Being Foolish)
We have, most of us, watered the Christian life down to sugary slogans about the love of Jesus and tender, tiny, talks about joy. We sing Kumbayah as our fight song and drop a $20 in the offering plate in response to a challenging message. And any conversation that brings up discipline, piety, and holiness, we dismiss as being legalistic and ignoring grace. And we have missed the point. The point is that our love for Christ, our overwhelming devotion and adoration for Him, based on our recognition of what He has done for us, should compel us to sacrifice and servanthood without so much as a blink of the eye. Paul says, “I consider all these things loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ my Lord. I consider them dung (look it up) that I might gain Christ.” (Phil. 3:8)
Now I’m not being hardnosed or suggesting that everyone should burn their TV’s and where their hair in a bun. We lived through those days and that wasn’t holiness. I have no idea what holy living looks like for you. I’m still trying to figure out what it look like for me. But I think it means that every decision, every desire, every habit, attitude, and pleasure is filtered through my intense love for My Savior who loved me and gave His life for me. And when I do that, there is no sacrifice, there is no giving stuff up. It is all joy because I get to be closer to the one that I love. How good is that? And you know what? Speaking of anniversaries, the longer I live a life fully surrendered to Him and His Kingdom, the better it gets. This “peace that passes all understanding,” and this “joy unspeakable stuff,” it really is there and there is no loss when I gain that.
So don’t feel sorry for Doris and I this weekend. We are spending time with someone who delights us. We are rolling in the floor with the light of our life and the joy of our hearts. Come to think of it, we should be doing that every day with Jesus. If giving stuff up is that easy for us where Jon-Mical is concerned, how much more for the One who makes Jon-Mical and every anniversary possible? And when you run into someone who doesn’t understand, say to them with all the love you can muster, “Nananananaaana!”