Night had fallen by the time they arrived at the park, and as he led her into the dark woods, carrying the shovel over his shoulder, she began to protest. Dragging on his arm, she begged him to stop. Already a few hundred yards off the beaten track, her alarm was growing exponentially with every step, but he was not to be deterred. Suddenly– [cliff-hanger scene change]
Earlier that day…
It started with a homemade choose-your-own-adventure scratch off card that dictated their innocent Saturday afternoon date. Her choices led them first to an art museum, then to a sushi bar for dinner. Their evening culminated in venturing into the wooded area bordering the park, under the guise of burying a time capsule. Unbeknownst to her, either scratch-off circle would have revealed ‘time capsule.’ He couldn’t leave the premeditated excursion into the woods to chance.
The sunset had long since faded by the time they reached the spot he had furtively chosen and made ready over the past two days. In the weak light of his flashlight, he could see her eyes widening and face paling in distress. His heart began to beat faster and he savored the rush of excitement coursing through his veins. Firmly gripping her arm as he forced her through the trees, he allowed a smile to play across his lips. Almost there.
Hundreds of tiny beads of light appeared like magic out of the darkness. Delicate strands arrayed the trees around them, surrounding them in delicate glowing pearls and revealing a small clearing in the woods suffused with a soft glow. Her gasp of shock brought a grin to his lips, which only grew bigger as understanding spread across her face. She covered her mouth in disbelief, feeling a tinge of embarrassment and guilt at dragging her feet on the way to this big moment. As soon as the lights came on, she knew. When the light came on, her doubt and confusion and misgivings instantly vanished, replaced by understanding, eager anticipation, and joy.
This is the true story of two of my close friends, who, by the end of that eventful day, were happily engaged. I wasn’t there to witness her face, (I was getting ready for the big surprise engagement party that followed), but my husband and a couple other friends captured her surprise and the whole proposal on camera for us all to see and coo over afterwards.
When reflecting on her reluctance leading up to the big moment and then her unparalleled joy once the lights came on, it made me think about our relationship to Christ.
Can you identify with this story?
You experienced a lot of doubts, confusion, and misgivings leading up to “when the lights came on.” You were walking in darkness and you were scared and uncertain of what lay ahead. You wanted answers, but hadn’t found them yet. Then, there came the moment when the lights came on and you suddenly understood the gift of grace that God was offering you. Understanding, eager anticipation and joy flooded your soul. Over the next several weeks and months you excitedly told others and shared your story with everyone who would listen – just as the newly betrothed relates the story and shows off the ring.
If that sounds a little like your story, maybe you can also relate to part two:
Slowly, over time, the newness wore off and the excitement faded. Like the butterflies-in-the-stomach that so often disappear in marriage, so too does the passion that initially accompanied your salvation. While your commitment hasn’t lessened, your enthusiasm has. You don’t tell the story much anymore, if at all. Your relationship has become something you mostly just take for granted; it’s good, but it’s not filled with joy and butterflies anymore.
You may or may not relate to the above stories. But let me tell you… I do.
If you read my “In the Head-Over-Heels, Forever-And-Always, Till-Death-Do-Us-Part Kind of Way” post from last month, you’ll know that the flame in my marriage is still burning bright. While the butterflies-in-the-stomach may have lessened, an enduring passion is still there.
It’s the other half of the analogy to which I really relate.
Yes, I write a blog from the perspective of my Christian faith. Yes, I attend church regularly – participating in some way in all three services on Sunday mornings and the prayer gatherings on Wednesday nights. Yes, I’ve been on dozens of mission trips and am signed up for more. Yes, I talk about “God stuff” with my family and friends.
No, I’m not a “super-Christian.”
No, I’m not full of understanding, eager anticipation and joy. At least, not always.
No, I don’t repeatedly tell my story to everyone who will listen. Those family and friends I talk to about “God Stuff”… they’re all Christians too. No, I don’t often offer a guiding hand to those still walking in uncertain darkness.
I refrain from voicing my faith and speaking the gospel so as not to make people feel uncomfortable. The sad truth is, I seem to want to be liked more than I want to offer others life-saving truth. My story started well, but the middle has gotten dull, selfish, and off-track.
I’m ready to change my story. Are you?