May 22, 2023

Falling in Love…Again
Pastor Jason Perry

Note: This Morning Manna is especially written for married couples. Please share it with your married friends However, the principle it presents can be applied to all relationships: cherish your friendships. Enjoy!
Falling in Love...Again
Thus says the LORD, “The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness - Israel, when it went to find its rest." The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying. "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have drawn you with lovingkindness. Again I will build you and you will be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! Again you will take up your tambourines, and go forth to the dances of the merrymakers.”
A young, engaged couple to whom I am giving premarital counseling are currently in training together to run a marathon. There are spending many hours conditioning their bodies and minds to run a long and difficult race. At times, unpredictable conditions, unfamiliar terrain, and physical pain will challenge their will to continue. This process is a good precursor for the relationship into which they are about to enter.
Marriage is not a sprint, but a marathon. Over the years this race is being run, it is possible for even the most vibrant marriage to find itself journeying through stretches of wilderness. Commonness, unmet expectations, hurt feelings, unkind words, failures and frustrations are but a few of the occurrences that can drain the joy right out of a marriage relationship. The pursuit of money, sex and employment (or the lack of these three) can easily divert attention and energy away from and weaken the relationship. When this happens, it is good to know that we can find grace in the wilderness. When the hot sun of difficulties threaten to sap your spirit of hope and the will to continue the race, it is important to remember why and how it was begun in the first place: with a promise of eternal love and a commitment to finish the course.
During the wilderness times it is easy to point fingers at your spouse and to produce a laundry list of their failures and foibles. In the words of Diamond and Streisand... "You don't bring me flowers, you don't sing me love songs, you hardly talk to me anymore, when you come through the door, at the end of the day, I remember when...'
If you are to survive these times, you must remember and model love the same way that God has loved and loves you. 1 John 4:10 says that "this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us..." Because His love for us is eternal, there is nothing we can do to quench it. Because it is unconditional, there are no conditions that can stop it. Because it is passionate, He will not cease trying to reach and woo us - even amid the wastelands when our will to love him is in serious question.
In the desert stages of your relationships, instead of focusing on the dryness of the season and the desperation of the circumstances, remember the love that compelled you to initially enter the race. What did you do to "draw" your spouse? How did you show love? That is what you must do to fall in love...again. As God draws us to Himself with his unending supply of lovingkindness - goodness, kindness, faithfulness - we must do the same for our loved ones.
Instead of giving in to the ambient discouragement and voices that tell you to quit, remember that God is able to build and rebuild that which is in a state of disrepair. Instead of focusing on the present pain, set your mind on the joy of finishing what you started. Remember God's steadfast love for you and His patient endurance with your own herky-jerky spiritual journey. Extend the same grace to the ones you love.
Think of how fun it will be when you pick up your tambourine and join in the dancing.
In it for the long haul,
Jason P.