I used to spend a lot of time polishing my wedding rings. I liked looking down and seeing the shiny stone on my finger in a setting of gold that reminded me of the love of my husband and the joy of our marriage. Somewhere in the ensuing years I lost some of that cleaning zeal, although I would still polish them up on special occasions. The morning of our 33rd anniversary was one such day, and I decided as well to don the necklace that now bears the initial diamond from my engagement ring.
Early on in our marriage when my husband had a new stone put in the ring, the jeweler wisely advised him to have that first gem placed in a necklace setting, knowing that any wife would want to keep that first token of love from her prospective husband. He was so right. And so now even when not worn around my neck, it lies treasured in a little silver box with an abalone shell lid, hidden in a corner of my jewelry box.
On this particular morning I went to get the necklace, only to find it gone! The little silver box stood empty among the other earrings and necklaces surrounding it. Initially not too alarmed, I reminded myself that I sometimes remove my jewelry in a hurry at night and put it in a little cup on the bathroom shelf before heading to bed. But a quick check of the bathroom cabinet didn't produce it, either. Now seriously worried, I looked in all the likely places once more, as well as every corner of my dresser and even the floor in front of it in case I had somehow laid it there and then later carelessly brushed it off. In a panic I cleared off the bathroom shelves, hoping to find it pushed in a corner somewhere. No luck. Disgusted that I had been so careless with my treasure, all I could do was hope that it would turn up somewhere when I did a more thorough cleaning of the entire house.
Sadly, the scenario above too often describes our marriages themselves even more than the rings and gems that represent them. In the early days of our married lives we are focused on the relationship with our spouse and do all we can to keep it alive and thriving. We willingly adjust our attitudes and actions for the good of our life with our wife or husband, and the state of the marital union is given top priority in our thinking and activities. But as the years pile up, so do the distractions. Soon there are kids and cars and jobs and money issues that always seem to demand our immediate attention, and tending to the spousal relationship sometimes gets pushed to the back burner of our busy schedules, if it is not lost altogether.
Eventually something happens that triggers the memory of how life used to be. With regret we realize that the spark that initially marked our relationship has grown dim, and we go looking for that which we once had, to restore it to its former glory. Lost somewhere in the clutter of our lives, it can be hard to find. While some couples successfully fan the flames of love again, others just hope the passion they once felt for each other will turn up again somewhere along the way, perhaps when life gets less busy. Others decide that it is simply gone, and give up hope of every experiencing it again. They regret that they didn't treat their relationship with the care such a treasure deserves.
If this can happen so easily with the people we bump into on the way to the bathroom in the mornings, how much more can it happen to our relationship with God? The early days of our relationship with Him were so filled with excitement and enthusiasm that He was foremost in our thoughts, conversation, and activities each day. We grew ever closer as we read His Word, talked to Him in prayer, worshiped Him in song, and spent time with other people who knew Him. But as the years pass by it is easy to let time pressures and life issues slip in and steal our attention and focus away from Him, until one day we likewise wake up spiritually and realize that our relationship is not at all what it used to be.
Thankfully God's love for us does not disappear nor diminish over time, despite our neglect of the relationship between us. He is ever ready to take us back and begin again, pulling us to His heart once more with His ongoing care and affection, teaching, guiding, and talking to us to the extent that we make ourselves available to Him. Past experience reminds us us to treasure the opportunity we have to spend time with Him, and we take care not to let this most treasured possession slip from our grasp again.
It is with similar joy that I report that my diamond is back in my possession once more! How fitting that I eventually found it on another necklace, hanging alongside a charm of two interlocking gold hearts. At some point I had put the two together, as God did just now in illustrating His point: when we polish our love relationships daily with our actions, attention, persistence and prayer, they will never lose their shine.
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
(Matthew 6:21 KJV)