Faces on Faith: The long haul
“Are you in it for the long haul?” That was the question my uncle posed to me when I announced my future wedding plans. “Absolutely,” I answered. He then followed up by saying, “Marriage is wonderful, but you must be willing to work at it.” Certainly I appreciated my uncle’s counsel; he and my aunt had been married for over 50 years. They were in it for the long haul.
Most of us can attest to the fact that human relationships can be fragile. We have experienced tensions, disillusionment, and sometimes separation from loved ones. My wife recently received a phone call from a longtime friend who was struggling with family issues. At the heart of the problem was that some family members had different political views and it ended in an intractable situation. Family members chose to “disown” one of their own; the heartbreak of giving up on the long haul.
Soon we will be moving into what Christians call the season of Lent. Historically, the early church used this time to prepare those who were training to become faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Later, those who had already committed their life to Christ began to see Lent as a time of reflection, meditation and renewal. Like our human relationships, we can sometimes feel separated from God. We are in it for the long haul but periodically need to experience God’s unconditional love and forgiveness. Grace is a free gift; we can’t earn it nor do we deserve it, but that is the nature of God. The good news is there is a practical side of grace. The Apostle Paul says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Our good works include loving with no strings attached.
So as we observe the Lenten discipline let us ponder my uncle’s question: “Are you in it for the long haul?” Let us thank God for amazing grace and extend grace to all.
The Rev. Larry L. Marshall is the pastor at the Captiva Chapel by the Sea.