January 2015 ~ “I Can’t Make You Love Me”
Gaylyn & I could hardly wait to receive the newly released CD by Ruben Studdard (American Idol). We saw him sing one of his new songs on The Biggest Loser Show, where he was a participant in 2014, and immediately planned to acquire the CD. As expected, the CD is a great display of Ruben’s talent and skill. His smooth vocals remind us of the late Luther Vandross.
While cleaning the house one day, we kept playing Rueben’s CD over and over again, because it is so relaxing and we really like many of the song selections. There is one song in particular that kept ringing in my head in the days that followed. You know how that goes—if you listen to something enough times, it just rents space in your head. I kept asking myself, of all the beautiful songs on the album, why that one? The name of the song is, “I Can’t Make You Love Me” (if you don’t…), and if you listen to this rendition you will love it, because vocally and instrumentally it is beautiful, however, the full lyrics are really sad. Throughout the song, he is trying to convince her to love him, even though it sounds hopeless that she ever will. He decides to give up on his fight and accept her decision.
While reading Jeremiah 2 & 3 (The Message), I began to wonder if this is what God was trying to say to the prophet about “His people”. Just like the person above, He seems to be reminding her of their great love as newlyweds and His great care and faithfulness towards her, but she seems to have forgotten their history of great love. She has now turned away from His love and has chosen to ignore His pleas to turn back towards Him. His pursuit seems to be relentless and tireless, yet she isn’t responding as He had hoped and desired. She consistently goes on her way—leaving God out of her plans and refusing His unrelenting love for her.
Unlike this sad song, the God we say we love doesn’t give up. As we read further in His story, we find that He did the unthinkable—He came into our world with humble beginnings and chose to serve us, teach us, heal us, restore us, redeem us, and to die by way of crucifixion for our sins on a ruthless cross, so that He could demonstrate His incomprehensible love for all of mankind and guarantee His promise of eternal life with Him forever.
However, He still waits for some of us to make our decision. Will we choose to leave Him out of our lives, or will we choose to be overwhelmed by His immeasurable and unending love? 2015 is here…will we go forward in His love or will we continue to ignore Him and pretend that He doesn’t exist? He’s waiting…remember, he never gives up on us!
July 2014 ~ “A Hard Time”
We were blessed and honored to witness the swearing in of our goddaughter into the Navy, a couple of weeks ago. She appeared calm and ready to embrace this venture she had signed up for a year ago. As her godparents, we just had to be honest with ourselves that we had a whole different plan mapped out for her in our minds. She’s bright, smart, and beautiful—of course, she’ll go to college, acquire a meaningful and challenging career, meet the man of her dreams, become a Mommy, and on and on. We were in denial, or were we just afraid to imagine her going off to be trained as a Navy Seaman and being asked to engage in a dangerous situation for the sake of our freedom. Her parents voiced their complete support and blessing regarding their child’s decision. We, her godparents, just smiled and chose to offer few words on the subject.
On the day of her induction, we came face-to-face with reality. She’s going…she’s really going to do this…WOW! Our hearts turned towards them as we watched parents and daughter take courageous steps in the process of launching and being launched. That day, our hearts joined theirs.
There were plenty of opportunities for our friends to “just lose it”, break out crying and all of that jazz, but they didn’t. Surprisingly, we all made it safely back home with no shed tears, but I’m certain that all of us were calculating happenings for their daughter minute by minute, even though we didn’t mentioned that fact to each other. The call came—she arrived safely at the designated training site and was now in the custody and care of the U.S. Navy. Now our role and posture turns to praying earnestly for her over the weeks that lie ahead.
For several days, we thought of our goddaughter often throughout each day. Our prayer has been, “Lord, please protect her, remind her that you are with her, and please help her to not give up when things become hard.” Not if the training gets hard, but rather when. From what we have been told and heard, the training process is hard, and can be very difficult at times.
During the first week of our goddaughter being away, I was praying for her, when all of a sudden I heard God’s voice say, “You guys are praying earnestly for her to not give up when things get hard, but you all need to begin praying for yourselves. What? He said, “Begin praying for yourselves that you won’t give up when the hard time comes.” Then He reminded me of Peter’s words in 1 Peter 5:6-11 (ESV).
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
For some, your life may feel as though you are at Bootcamp on a daily basis. No matter if you are going into a hard time, coming out of a hard time, or smack dab in the middle of a hard time, God is there. He assures us that He cares for us, but we must humble ourselves and cast every single care upon Him. These are interesting times. Are you ready for your “hard time?” Today, make the decision to stand firm in your faith and trust in God. Put on the whole armor of God, so you will be able to stand. (Ephesians 6:10-18) Like our goddaughter, we will encourage ourselves and each of you to purpose in your heart to not give up when things become hard. Amen.