I married my husband in 1967. We've remained togeether for nearly fifty-six years.
John never forced me to live with him. I chose to do so. Before we got married, he told me he loved me. If that was the one and only time, he said, "I love you," would I have stayed with him for fifty years? I don't know. Frequently he's said, "I love you!"
More importantly, he's shown me he loves me. If I'd never acknowledged his love and responded to it by returning love, would he have stayed with me? Because he is such a faithful person, I'm confident he would have remained, anyway. But neither of us would have enjoyed marriage very much.
What has it taken for us to remain together and enjoy our togetherness? One obvious but easily neglected thing is that we talk with one another. Even after fifty years, we cannot read one another's minds. Through our words, we discover what one another thinks, feels, and desires. He wants to give me what I desire. And I want to give him what he desires.
It's the same with Jesus. He never forced me into a relationship with him. When I heard he loved me (I was convinced of it by his words, that is—Scripture), I chose to enter into a life-long relationship with him. I've remained with him because he continues to love me. And my love for him continues to grow.
What keeps the love flowing between Jesus and me? The same thing that keeps the love flowing between my husband and me—frequent conversations. As I read Scripture, Jesus tells me more and more about himself—he shares his desires, thoughts, and plans. I feel honored and loved.
Because I'm confident of his love, I listen to his words. I feel blessed not only by his affirmations but by his kindly-spoken words of correction. And I'm finding out the truth of this statement:" Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble" (Psalm 119:165 NLT).
What does it mean to remain with Jesus? I more concisely express it in the following poem.
If I love God, I will love his instructions.
Listen to him and do what he says—
Live a life of intentional obedience,
Making plans and following through.
I will do my best on all his assignments,
Trusting in the wisdom he gives—
Always remain in touch with the Spirit
So from his purpose, I do not shift.
Often, I'll need to make an adjustment
Not from his purpose, just to my plan.
If I'm resentful of all interruptions,
I'll miss what Jesus is saying to me.
Some of my phone calls, I need to answer
Blocking them all reduces my sight.
Without help from brothers and sisters,
My vision of Love will be incomplete.
Remaining with Jesus, I have discovered,
Also, means remaining with them.
This is his most basic instruction:
Love one another as I have loved you.