Isn’t that a great word? I mean, just think about those radio stations that “guarantee 50 minutes of music every hour”; or the promise of “satisfaction guaranteed or your money back!” I find myself seeing the appeal of having something guaranteed. In a world full of commercials and advertising interruptions, I am prone to choose a radio station that plays more music, especially if they are willing to publicly commit to that promise. I found myself wondering if I, as a pastor, could make any such guarantees – and realized I could!
For instance, consider a wife who generally struggles with depression and is having a particularly rough week. That almost overwhelming sense of being alone, unseen and unimportant hangs like a cloud over her life. But because she does not like the way she feels (“I hate it that I cannot seem to be like everyone else”) and does not want to sound like a “whiny wife” (“I really shouldn’t feel this way, there is nothing to be upset about”), everyday this week when her husband asks her how she is doing she responds, “Great! I am having a really good day.” I can guarantee that she will get no emotional or spiritual help from her husband (who is enthusiastically sharing with his coworkers how well his wife is doing and what a great week she is having) and she will continue to feel lost and insignificant in her own home.
Here is another situation where I can speak a guarantee. It is not unusual for a man who has been caught up in some “gross, vile sin” to withdraw within himself. Oh, he’ll appear fine from the outside for the most part; but inside the inmost part of who he is lives in a dark, lonely place (some have likened it to a cave). He hates being in that place because it is so tremendously lonely and empty and he longs for true intimacy, especially with his wife. But at some level it feels safe in this isolated place for he is convinced that “my wife could never forgive me for that” and “if I tell her that, it will destroy our marriage.” Okay, here’s the guarantee – I can guarantee that his wife will never forgive him for those things he has done – because she cannot forgive what she is not aware of. And furthermore, because one of the fundamental needs of a woman is openness and honesty with her mate, I can also guarantee that his marriage will self-destruct or at least eventually degrade to the status of “two people living together, separately.”
A last illustration. Some people truly feel and believe that what they have done – all of their sin – was dealt with at the Cross and they are now forgiven; and yet they are ashamed to look into the face of Jesus. They really are thankful for what the Lord has done for them but it remains virtually impossible for them to look Him in the eyes and tell him they are depressed or feel the need to withdraw from people or hide in caves or keep secrets – whatever. Well, I can guarantee that if they don’t look at His face they will never see and experience of the fullness of Jesus; they will miss His tears of compassion and His radiant smile of acceptance.
Thankfully there are an abundance of other more positive, more life giving guarantees to be given like, “He came to heal the brokenhearted” and “Nothing can separate us from the love of God expressed through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Pray with me that this will be another week where folks exchange the guarantees of death for the guarantees of life and freedom.