Monday, March 26, 2007 a symbol of my vow

On November 25, 2006 at about 7:30 pm I was given the best gift I've ever received (that is, of course, until July 14, 2007): a symbol of a promise. I wear it on the fourth finger of my left hand. It shines, it sparkles, it gets fuzz in it...but my favorite part is what it reminds me of.

Not just my upcoming marriage to the man I love. There's more.

My ring has three stones in it. I know that tradition says these are "past, present, and future stones". While it's true that Nathan and I have a past, and we live in a wonderful present, and we look with eager anticipation at the future, that's not what I see when I look at my ring.

My ring would look awful and awfully ridiculous if it only had the two side stones in it. There would be these two beautiful diamonds in beautiful settings, but there would be a gap between them. Or, if they were put side by side, it would be uninteresting and less-than-beautiful. But you put one diamond in the middle and you have one gorgeous ring!

The center stone is the focus of the ring. Yes, the two side stones are beautiful and accent the center stone in a marvelous and unique way, but it's the center one that makes the ring. When people look at my ring, when I look at my ring, the attention automatically is drawn to the large diamond in the middle. It is the climax of the ring.

My marriage will fail if it's just me and Nathan. I have no doubt of this. Our marriage would be rather uninteresting, we wouldn't complement one another, and we would even compete for attention. Add a beautiful, brilliant Savior to the center, though, and our marriage will catch the eye of everyone around us. I don't want people to look at my marriage and see me. Yes, my marriage would be incomplete without either of us just like my ring would be incomplete without either side stone, but we can't be the focus.

This is why I have a three-stone ring. It's not because I wanted to make my future husband blow his budget on hand decor. It's not because I want all the other girls to notice my "bling". I need a reminder - a constant reminder - that our relationship would be incomplete without Christ at the center. Our marriage would be missing something beautiful if we take the focus - either our own or that of those watching us - off of the center stone.

I love my ring. I love the way it looks and I love what it tells me. I love that even though a diamond isn't forever, love is eternal. I love that Nathan and I will together focus on the Center Stone for the rest of forever.

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down,

his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.

But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

~Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

United We Fall

Point #1 – there is strength in unity
After September 11, 2001 the phrase “United We Stand” could be seen at any point in time at any place in the country – on bumper stickers, business marquises, overpasses, church signs and t-shirts. Anywhere you went, you were reminded of the fact that we, as Americans, were not going to give up. In fact, we would all band together, an unstoppable troop of donkeys and elephants, men and women, pacifists and militants, all united for a single cause. We knew the truth of the fact that “every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand” (Matthew 12:25). There is a strength, a vital strength, in standing together for a single purpose.

Point #2 – there is weakness in division

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24). In the context Jesus was talking about dividing your loyalty between God and money, but the truth carries so much further than that. A professor of mine says that with any compromise “you get the strengths of neither and the weaknesses of both.” You can’t be fully devoted to two different things. It is impossible.

Point #3 – my heart will follow my hands

We do the things we like. We do what we consider valuable. Christ said, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” We will do the things we care about and we will care about the things that we do. Where we put our time, energy, money, and effort shows where our hearts really are.

Point #4 – my attentions are often divided, which means my heart is divided, which means my heart is weak when it could be strong

my heart to fear your name." "Unite my heart to fear your name." "Unite my heart to fear your name." "Unite my heart to fear your name” (Psalm 86:11b). My loyalties are distributed. My heart is so divided. I am weak. I don’t have a right reverence for God. David recognized the same thing in himself. He saw that when he refused to have a single purpose in his heart, a single goal, a single love, he was weak. He asked for a united heart, a strong heart, so that he might bow down in humble fear before his God.

Point #5 – God can unite my heart, which will strengthen my heart, which will make me fall to my knees in reverence.

“Although a wicked man commits a hundred crimes and still lives a long time, I know that it will go better with God-fearing men, who are reverent before God.” ~Ecclesiastes 8:12