Relationships are difficult, sometimes messy and sometimes hurtful. Several years ago, close friends made choices that caused our relationship to be severed. It was hard; our children did not understand; we did not understand. These were people we had trusted with all our greatest dreams, children and future plans. Now they had chosen other things. In a new community, these people had been more than friends, they were our family. Why would the LORD allow this? We were lost. We sought His will in prayer for understanding, clarity, and He directed us to a new future.
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
Proverbs 3:3-4 NIV
Each of us are sinful, do things we know are selfish, and have therefore fallen short of God's expectations (Romans 3:23). This painful experience was an opportunity for the LORD to work in the lives of our family. First and most importantly, we learned the perfect love of Yehovah. He had not abandoned us. He is loyal, the object of our faith, the ONE we can rely on when all else, and others, fail us.
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.
Deuteronomy 7:9 NIV
Our society in general does not value or reward loyalty. As a whole, we are constantly changing direction to seek after the next new, shine thing. Marketing departments encourage people to purchase a new phone each time the next version is released. Today's diet experts says eat only protein, but next month research may encourage some "better" diet. The popularity of politicians and celebrities is constantly changing. A candidate may be a hero today, but only until they do or say something controversial, then the supporters will be on to someone else. It seems everything is disposable, even people and relationships. The decline of marriage and the frequency of divorce shines a bright light on the worth of loyalty.
Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor. Proverbs 21:21 NIV
Without God permitting our friend's actions, I believe our family would have looked much different than it does today. We may never have realized the importance of being dedicated to someone or something. Our LORD has taught us the benefits of standing alongside friends, neighbors and teammates when things are going well and most importantly when things are not going as we would like. We have learned to be committed, keep our word, and follow through with promises. When it gets tough to keep that promise it may easier to pull back and protect yourself, leave or withdraw, but "easy" does not demonstrate the love of Christ to our world.
Our children know that when they join a team or organization, they are not allowed to quit before the task or season is completed. They have experienced what it is like when a member of their team leaves because things are not going their way. They have experienced hypocrisy, and therefore value teachers and coaches who demonstrate love toward them through their actions, not simply empty words. Our sons demonstrate steadfast agape love by standing with teammates and friends who battle through tough times, and are witnessing Yahweh's blessings and faithfulness.
The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:9-10 NIV
I see many young adults who appear to wander through life because they do not commit to relationships or long range goals. They jump from job to job, change relationships or walk away from obligations because they do not understand the value of loyalty. They move from one good feeling to another in order to satisfy an internal craving. While I do not know the status of their spiritual salvation, their actions resemble someone who is lost because they are not drawing from the one constant, Jesus Christ, who can keep them grounded, focused and living a life on track. Much effort is expended on instant gratification which causes them to miss the investment in enduring relationships.
Lastly, our discussion of loyal love, or sometimes lack of it, would not be complete without mentioning forgiveness and unmerited grace. Our Omnipotent Father has taught us that although we have been hurt, these are good people who have chosen different priorities for their lives than what the LORD may have been chosen for us. The severing of relationships is a door closing so Jehovah may direct our journey in another direction. Things we chose for ourselves may not be what the Almighty desires for us. His plans and purposes for our lives will not always be fun, but they are always His best. Our Creator is faithful, loyal and completely loving toward each of us. The full depth of this affection is incomprehensible, but as we draw near to His heart, we will continue to experience and trust His loyal love, that will allow us to have the ability to demonstrate that same loyal love to those around us, even when they are unlovable or it is not reciprocated.
Most loyal Heavenly Father, words cannot express our appreciation for Your love for us. You are faithful, constant and satisfy our deepest needs to be loved and valued. Holy One, please help us appreciate Your guiding hand upon our lives as You give and take away. May we always submit to Your plans and purposes for our lives, giving You full permission to workout every detail because we know Your love is loyal. It would contradict Your nature to be otherwise. Draw us near to Your heart, so we may understand the depth of Your love for us then give us strength and courage to demonstrate that love to our friends, neighbors, teammates, and the unloved in Your world. Bend our knees in prayer for those who need to come to the understanding of Your perfect, loyal love. Amen