Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It's Not the Ring

Gearing up for Valentine’s Day, jewelry stores spend millions of dollars convincing women that if their man really loves them, he’ll buy them a big honkin’ diamond ring. I wonder how many men watch those commercials and feel guilty if they haven’t yet come up with the giant rock.

I’ll confess, I almost fell into that trap, but only for a moment. I remember watching a commercial where a man surprised his wife with an anniversary ring and shouted to the crowd around them, “I LOVE THIS WOMAN!” And the woman rapturously replied in a breathless whisper, “I love this man. I love this man.”

I looked at my husband in his usual position—sprawled out on the couch, sound asleep by 8:00 p.m., and thought, Hey, wake up! You could learn a thing or two here!

Thankfully, the moment that thought went through my mind I looked at my wedding ring—a simple golden band with three diamond chips and no accompanying engagement ring—and recognized that after nearly 30 years, it’s holding up fine, and so is our marriage.

It’s not the ring that says I love you.

Love is going out to start the car for me before I leave on cold winter mornings. It’s saving the last cup of coffee for me. It’s hanging around the house a little while longer before he leaves for work, just to see what’s on my mind. It’s the way he makes me smile every day. Love is knowing that he prays for me and wants good things for me.

A few grand gestures could never replace the daily commitment required for love that lasts a lifetime. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Jesus showed His love by sacrificing His life for us.

My husband regularly makes sacrifices for our family. That’s why I can say, “I love this man.”

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Let not your heart be troubled

I’m feeling a little stressed today, and I know I don’t need to be feeling this way; my heavenly Father can take care of what needs taking care of, but sometimes those feelings of anxiety can sneak up on a person.

I felt the tightness in my chest and the queasiness in my stomach and said, “Oh, Father, don’t let my heart be anxious.” But that’s not how it goes, is it?

As I think of Bible verses dealing with anxiety, I see that I’m the one required to give my stresses to God; He’s not required to come and snatch them away from me. Look at these examples (emphases mine):

John 14:17b; Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Philippians 4:6; Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

1 Peter 5:7; Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Psalm 55:22; Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

Did you notice the common thread of these verses? It’s not God’s job to keep my heart from being anxious. He tells me (us) to do that. We are required to do something. God will help us through, but He’s looking for that step of faith on our part—that giving up of our control and placing our trust in Him.

So I’m going to lay aside my plans and schemes for getting through this difficult time. Instead, I’m going to spend some quiet time with my Father, trust in Him with all my heart and not lean on my own understanding. I’ll acknowledge Him in all my ways, and He will make my paths straight (from Proverbs 3:5-6).

I feel better already.