"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
~ Ephesians 5: 1,2
Yesterday I spent time with a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary. As we looked at pictures from the couple's wedding day, the two both smiled and were able to recall so much about the day, including the weather, different conversations, and the vows that they made.
As we talked, the man shared, "and the vows that we made that day were the easiest words to tell her because I just love her so much."
For the last year the couple has struggled with the wife's cancer diagnosis, surgery, treatments, and now hospice. "This is what I promised her. That I will care for her, no matter what."
This has been hard on the couple. The initial treatment involved the removal of her tongue, a muscle from her arm being used to reconstruct a tongue, no longer being able to eat food, or speak clearly, and now watching as the cancer invades her neck and face. For me, they are the most sacred example of covenant and unconditional love.
The conversation was filled with many emotions. There are simply those moments when you realize the presence of God in the moment. For us, this is the covenant that God has made with each of us.
As I sat and listened, I realized the deep pain that was present that will never go away. The woman, almost befriends her woundedness at this point, and realizes the deep love that she has for her husband, and he, for her. What I learned in that moment was that their covenant for one another is filled with many truths. They now say what is on their mind to one another, and they listen, without judgment. They understand the need to hear, "it will be okay," and that, "I love you, no matter what."
Essentially, it is what we seek each day in our life, and our faith. It is our deep need to know that God loves us, unconditionally, and that our words and actions matter to God. That somehow, when we fail, or fall short, of what God wants for us, there is not some punishment awaiting, but rather, grace, and forgiveness.
The unconditional covenant that God has with us means that God is waiting to take us, hold us, and to remind us that we belong to God... ALWAYS!
The greatest pain that we will ever bear is our own. The greatest love we will ever encounter is the love that God has for us.
We invite God's unconditional covenant with us when we forgive instead of getting angry with one another. When we find that ability to bless our enemy, rather than cursing at them. When we care for the wounds of others, rather than driving salt into them. When we discover the words to encourage others, instead of discouraging. When we find a way to provide hope, rather than taking the person down the pathway of despair. When we hug, instead of harassing. When we no longer ignore others, and instead, turning a cold-shoulder, affirming, rather than criticizing. When we praise instead of tearing the other apart.
In all of these situations, we affirm the covenant that God has with us, and invites that covenant to be visible for the world to see.
While there was great joy in the sharing that I encountered yesterday, there was also a great sense of sadness, knowing that the time that this couple has left is escaping them with each moment.
Learning to live out our love for God and one another will always provide for moments that will be meaningful.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.