Early this summer my husband took me away for an overnight date. A date I pretty much demanded of God (I prayed and cried to God for that date). I felt desperate for attention for us. We simply get too busy coping with school, jobs, and people, that pretty soon there is no more us. We had a lovely, boring time. I found it amusing that boring had become a lovely thing.
The next morning, in the breakfast room of our hotel, we (everyone in the breakfast room) were privileged to a play by play of a failing marriage. It was a small room, but seriously, Lower your voice, Lady! The narrator was a younger woman of about thirty, and her devoted listener probably late fifties or sixty.
As Bruce and I made our way through our grapefruits and oatmeal, rather silently, I became more and more riled. Not because her complaints were unusual but rather because they were usual. The one that made me instinctively stand and attempt to leave the room was this...
"I mean, I know that commitment is a part of it. I know about commitment. I'm a Christian. But I'm doing everything I can." She takes a sip of coffee and pauses for effect... "OK. Listen to this...I decided to to take three weeks off work and just be present at home...I gave it everything for three weeks. And do you know he didn't even notice?"
Bruce told me to sit down again so I did, but my insides were boiling mad. If you're committed to something like marriage and losing weight and a job; you don't commit to those things for three week increments. It's for life. Or at least for the life of the spouse, overweight body, and employment. I got all judge-y about it but realized later how very much alike we humans are.
There are two things that are constant battles for me and I too get discouraged with being committed if I don't see instant results. Those two things are my weight and my communication skills, which in turn causes problems for my marriage. I'm not going to go into detail about how I fail at these things. My point is that I too have trouble with staying happily committed to those things that are a battle for me.
However, I become less judge-y when I am in the middle of the wilderness. It's there I, like the Children of Israel, grow discouraged with my circumstances and begin to complain. I too, like they did, lose hope. I become tired of my manna and quail and fresh spring water and clothes that never wear out. I become un-accepting of what God has given me for provisions. I long for less pain. I want instant relief from conversations that seem to cause more pain. I want easy or at least, easier.
I think in true commitment, the question of how long is not proactive. When we can lose the mentality that there must be an end to this pain and suffering that God has allowed into our lives, then we can be surrendered to the work He is performing. When we realize that God has a purpose in giving us crosses to bear...then we have the strength to continue.
When we fix our eyes on our eternal goal, realizing that God is making us more like Himself in the meantime, our feeble cries of "Lord have mercy" and "Deliver me" become more meaningful...There is so much strength in our weakness.
Never stop crying those feeble cries. Those are the cries of the broken and contrite spirit. Those are the ones that makes us more accepting of what God is doing in our hearts. Those cries are humble, sincere, and full of victory.
And because this scripture says it so much better than I can...