Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments
Love is not love, which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove.
Oh no, it is an ever fixed mark, that looks on tempest and is never shaken.
Several years ago I rediscovered poetry. During a trip to Barnes and Noble in search of a compilation of Emily Dickinson’s poems, I happened upon Shakespeare’s Sonnets. So I picked that up, too.
Sonnet Number 116, above, is a real favorite of mine. Some of you may be familiar with it. For those who aren’t and could use a translation, it basically boils down to this. Love, isn’t love, if it falters when things get tough. Love is a fixed mark. Love is constant, steady and sure, even when outside circumstances are anything but. It is able to look on difficulties and the weariness that often accompanies it and the times of seemingly endless waiting...and not be shaken.
In other words, true love isn’t fickle or flighty. It is committed through thick and thin.
Maggie Carpenter, a character in the movie, Runaway Bride, was the exact antithesis of the word commitment. In fact, the whole idea of commitment sent her fleeing, much to the chagrin of the men she left standing at the altar on what was to be their wedding day.
Although Maggie left quite a trail of broken hearts, at least she hadn’t broken any vows.
The Israelites, on the other hand, stood at an altar at the foot of Mount Sinai and pledged themselves to God (Exodus 24:3-8). They promised to love, cherish and obey God...come what may. They committed themselves to a lifetime of devotion and loyalty to Him.
Then, just 40 short days later, when God and Moses disappeared above the clouds on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:18-31:18) to discuss the building plans of the Tabernacle―a House where God would dwell in their very midst―they grew weary of waiting. They wanted answers, they wanted action, and they wanted it now. It was precisely that 40-day waiting period that exposed the Israelites' true commitment to God.
Returning down the mountainside, Moses discovered his people worshipping, not God, but a golden calf (Exodus 32:7-8). That act of disloyalty so soon after their “betrothal” revealed that their hearts weren’t really His, after all.
Many of you reading this today have said your “I Do’s” to God. You’ve committed yourself to a lifetime of loving, cherishing and obeying Him. But, then life takes a turn. You find yourself in a long...silent...waiting period that’s causing your heart to grow faint. Your patience level is taxed by the lack of movement on God’s part. Facing an ever-mounting pile of bills or a very deep, dark valley that seems endless, you may be tempted to think that your only way out is to find an alternative route. What will you do? Will your heart stay true? Will you keep your commitment to Him, or will you pull up your bootstraps and look for help elsewhere?
There are others of you reading this today who may relate more to Maggie Carpenter than the Israelites. You’ve always longed to know there is a God who loves you, a God who is committed to walking beside you every step along life’s way, but, every time you feel that nudge to reach out and take His hand, you flee. I’d like to encourage you to take this opportunity to turn over your running shoes once-and-for-all and become His bride. You will find Him to be a faithful companion through all the ups and downs of life.
Lord Jesus, give us the kind of love for you that Shakespeare so aptly described as an ever fixed mark that looks on tempest―or long delays that keep us wondering and waiting―and is never shaken.