You have declared this day that the Lord is your God and that you will walk in His ways… and the Lord has declared this day that you are His people, His treasured possessions as He promised, and that you are to keep all His commands. Deuteronomy 26:17 & 18
My husband and I met seventeen years ago. Our dating life was incredibly fun. We knew the key to a good relationship was compromise. But if one person was compromising more than the other, the balance would be off. Furthermore, in the beginning glow of romance, people can sometimes compromise so much, they lose themselves. To avoid this pit-fall, we created special rules around our weekly date nights.
Each week, we alternated who planned the date. Rule #1 was the “planner” organized the evening without consulting the other. Rule #2 was the “receiver” had to act as if he/she were enjoying the evening, even if he/she wasn’t. Not only did this plan keep the scale balanced, it exposed each of us to things we never would have tried had these rules not existed. The interesting thing about pretending to have enjoy yourself is, once you force yourself to be open to something, you let go of your preconceived notions. Before you know it, you’re truly having fun!
Had you ever told me that I’d enjoy a Celtic’s game or virtual golf, I would have said you were crazy. Had you ever told my husband that he’d enjoy salsa dancing or a moonlit labyrinth walk, he would have said you were crazy. But our date night rules led us both to not only learn each other’s interests, but to actually enjoy them. It really was a magical time.
That is, until we had kids. Once our first child was born, the date night train screeched to a halt. At that time, we thought we didn’t need it anymore: we were so blissfully happy to be parents.
When that glow wore off, we were too exhausted to invest the time and energy to plan and implement creative date nights. Plus, I wasn’t working anymore. The idea of paying a sitter each week, plus the cost of the dates themselves, didn’t seem logical. So our date nights soon morphed into watching a show on Netflix together one night a week.
This Scripture passage reminds me of wedding vows. In it, we declare that the Lord is our God; then God declares that we are His people. There is a bond being established, promises are being exchanged, and a public declaration of belonging to each other is being made that is no different than the declaration made between a bride and groom. But like things have been lately in my marriage, how much am I “cherishing” God?
When I look more honestly at my relationship with God, am I sharing my interests with Him? Am I inviting Him into all that I do? Or am I just fulfilling my obligation by going to church each week, spending just that hour with Him, one where I don’t even invest all that much? Am I trying new ways to get closer to God? Or am I just saying the same old rote prayers I learned when I was five? Am I being open minded? Recognizing that God can speak to me through every single thing in my day if I just open my heart and ears? Or am I boxing Him in, restricting His voice to just church and the Bible? Am I following the Ten Commandments with animosity, irritated by their restrictions, begrudging the “have to’s?” Or am I trying with all my heart to lead the best life I can simply because that makes God happy?
During the season when my kids were little, watching a show on the couch was about all I had to give. But my kids are getting older. They don’t consume my every waking minute anymore. I actually do have some time and energy now that I want to invest in my marriage.
Don’t get me wrong. By no means is my marriage on the rocks. In fact, we’re doing okay. But why would I settle for “okay” if I can raise that rating to “great?” Sure, we may still be in a place where we don’t want to spend the money each week on a sitter and costly dates. But I’m sure if we think outside the box, my husband and I can come up with some creative “at home” date ideas that will infuse our relationship with fun. Furthermore, prioritizing us will naturally draw us closer together.
Likewise, by no means is my prayer life on the rocks either. In fact, I do pray daily. But I know that if I open up more of my heart and mind to God, He will bless my life with more grace. Prioritizing Him will draw us closer together too.
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