President's Blog: Leonard Buhler
True commitment makes true love possible.
Not too long ago, I had the incredible honor of officiating at my son Mark’s wedding. Whenever you’re a wedding guest, you’re likely to spend a few moments thinking about the nature of love and commitment. This time, being the person up front conducting the ceremony as my eldest son pledged his life and future to his bride, I was just blown away by the magnitude of what they were doing.
It got me thinking about my own marriage to Debbie. One memory in particular stood out. Debbie and I were still young, living in Manitoba. One day, Debbie and I were out for a walk when we spotted a note pinned to the railing of the bridge ahead. Curious, we read the note. It was addressed to my wife! Debbie would often come this way on her walks, and a stranger had been watching. Following. Admiring. The note left a phone number and invited Debbie to give him a call. I was enraged that someone was stalking my wife. We left the note where it was, and kept walking. Only minutes later, we looked back and noticed a man stop and pick up the note.
Leaving Debbie behind, I ran back to my house in time to see the man pull away in his truck. Within seconds, I was in my own vehicle, chasing him down the road. I pulled ahead of him and then slammed on my brakes, forcing him to stop. I physically hauled him out of his car, slammed him down on the hood, and shook him. “Are you stalking my wife?” I yelled. He denied it, until I pointed the note in the back of his car. Still shouting I yelled “You leave my wife alone and never go near her again because I will use every resource I have to stop you!” I’m one hundred percent sure that if not for God, I would have hurt the guy badly. I was that furious. That was the end of him coming anywhere near our house or that bridge.
Maybe you’re appalled that I lost my temper. To this day, I shake my head over how rashly I behaved. But I’m not sorry that I acted so swiftly and decisively to protect Debbie and our marriage. And that incident taught me more than few things about love and commitment.
So often, when people think about commitment they think about what they stand to lose. If I give myself to this person, I’ll lose my freedom. It will cost me so much – so much time, so much money, so much energy. What if the sacrifice is too great?
Yes, commitment involves loss. But it also involves enormous gain. When you make those vows, you gain a lifelong ally, a refuge, a protector. Someone who will fight with you and for you, for the things that matter most. Those vows Debbie and I made were what compelled me to run after that man. Because Debbie had pledged herself to me, I trusted her; I didn’t need to stop and wonder whether I had misread the situation. Because I had pledged myself to Debbie, I leapt to her defense. I risked my own safety to make sure she would be safe. Commitment makes a new kind of love possible: deeper, more courageous, more adventurous. True love is not possible apart from true and total commitment.
Think about this in the spiritual realm. So often people worry that if they pledge to follow Jesus, God will ask them to give things up. He might; it’s true. But we’ve got it backwards if that’s what we focus on. Because giving ourselves fully to God actually involves enormous gain. Satan sets out to destroy us. But picture this: the Creator of the universe grabbing Satan and shaking him. “You have no idea who you’re dealing with! Stay away from my child!” That’s the kind of power and love we have on our side when we’ve given ourselves completely to Jesus. (If you doubt me, try reading Romans 8:28-39 every day for a week.) And when you’re sure of that love and power, you’ll find yourself loving God and loving others more courageously and more freely than you ever imagined.
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