Yesterday during our worship services we celebrated both baptism and communion. My pastor related these two observations by likening baptism to a wedding – that one moment in time when a couple publicly declares their love and commitment to one another – and the Lord’s Supper to the marriage anniversaries that follow – special times with our spouse when we reflect on all that has happened so far in the journey and renew our commitment to each other.
I like that comparison. As I pondered the “baptism is like a wedding” thought another image came to mind. I looked up at the young lady in the baptistery and imagined her looking not into the eyes of the pastor but into the eyes of Jesus and saying these words:
“I take you, Jesus, as my Savior and Lord, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health…”
Suddenly I was realized there are deep and powerful similarities between my marriage commitment to Debbie and my life commitment to Jesus. Each will have “better” times when life could not seem to be any more fun and fulfilling, times when the conversations and the connections are wonderfully intimate. But there will also be “worse” times when there are disagreements and periods of silence when we seem to be going two different directions.
There will be “richer” times of financial stability and “poorer” times, such as when Debbie would look under couch cushions for change that might have fallen out of pants pockets during a small group meeting. There will be seasons of “health” when we work hard, play hard and sleep well. But we are honest enough to acknowledge that life together will include “sickness,” some persistent for a lifetime, some almost debilitating in the latter years.
In November my parents will have been married 67 years. Debbie and I have walked together in marriage for 44 years. I can tell you without exaggeration that each of these included better, worse, richer, poorer, health and sickness – but our love and commitment to our spouses is for a lifetime.
So I look in a mirror and ask myself: “Does my relationship with Jesus reflect a commitment ‘to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health.’ Or do I love Him a lot when life is good and relatively easy but then pull back, even walk away, when our journey together includes ‘worse, poorer or sickness’?”
It occurs to me that my pastoral counseling would take on an entirely different dynamic if the Christians in my office were fully committed to their vows to Jesus.