A renewal of vows. I think of this as a reaffirmation ceremony enacted by a couple who have shared the electric bill and the laundry, who have argued over major and trivial matters, who have known each other past the make-up and cologne, maybe raised a few kids, danced in the kitchen on occasion and fought on the way to church, who may have teetered on the brink of divorce at one time—but have once more decided that, truly, for better or worse, “we are in this together.”
A blushing bride and a misty-eyed groom promise solemn things on their wedding day, but married couples who decide to renew their vows have already lived through some of the worst in each other; they have experienced the solemnity of what they are about to reaffirm. Despite difficulties, they’ve taken a good look at the other and have decided, “You are not the enemy. Come heck or high water, I’m sticking with you for good.”
Last week I realized that I was due for a vow renewal. Now, I’m still single so it wasn’t the kind of vow renewal where I squeeze back into my wedding dress, or invite my friends to celebrate my decision to stick with my man for better or worse. It was a very private ceremony, consisting of a haphazard stroll through the park. But it was a vow renewal nonetheless.
You see, my Man and I have been fighting lately. Well, he hasn’t really been arguing with me, but I’ve been pretty ticked at him, his decisions and the way I think he has been keeping me in the dark. I’m wondering if he is really gonna take care of me, and I’ve been second-guessing his love. I guess I’ve been seeing him as the enemy.
But a few days ago, he used a few lines from a Ryan Stevenson song to get through to me.
In one line he says, “Jesus, I don’t want anything coming in between you and me,” hit me with the realization that this relationship is worth fighting for; this Partner is worth sticking with; He actually isn’t the enemy. I’m blaming Him because I don’t like the way things are going, but that just ends up with me trying to push away my truest Love. I wonder if this is what married couples face during non-essential arguments that threaten to grow into real relationship disturbances. In the midst of emotions, the understanding of who the real enemy is clouds up; accusations fly and suddenly we start attacking the one who is fundamentally on our side, the one who is most committed to us.
Well, I thought. That’s me. That‘s me and Jesus. I thought of Peter, and the question Jesus asked him in John 6:67 (ESV): “Do you want to go away as well?” Peter’s response was simple: “Lord, to whom shall we go? … We have believed, and have come to know, that you are the … One.”
You are the One, no matter how frustrated I feel.
Sometimes faithfulness is simply the choice not to walk away. The prophet Habakkuk was feeling pretty frustrated and alone; it seemed like God was never going to answer him and make things plain. But he determined, “I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me” (Habakkuk 2:1, ESV). In my own paraphrase, he said, “I will come out and sit down and wait until He speaks to me. I’m not going anywhere.”
It’s all there: a renewal of vows.
I have walked with You long enough to be frustrated with You. I don’t understand what You’re doing. I’m confused. I’m hurt. I’m mad at You. I don’t wanna talk to You sometimes. But, when it all comes down to it, I’m not going anywhere. You’re the One I’m joined to. I’m staying right here with You. You are not the enemy. And I restate what I said to You long ago: I want to spend the rest of my life with You as my Partner.
Here, right now, in this deserted park, I am renewing my vows. For better or worse.