"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ain’t No Cheatin’ in This Lovin’

By Micky Wolf

Country—music that is—speaks truth. Most of the artists and creative types who inhabit this genre are made of honest, straight-forward stuff. Their lives often exemplify perseverance, love and commitment in the most extraordinary of circumstances. Their musical stories poignantly describe joy, peace, failure and weakness. Whether or not these singers and songs are your cup of sassafras, they can be appreciated for the unflinching and unaffected willingness to “sing it like it is”. Through the awfulness that may be the present moment, country music usually exhorts moral truth with an ending that is encouraging and often enthusiastically empowering as well.

In that vein, carousing about, in some manner or form, is too often an ingredient of life, a topic well-addressed in StopCheatin’ On Me by Kellie Pickler. While her words report the pain and misery brought about by a philandering mate, there is a deeper truth to cheatin’ that illustrates our propensity to betray a loved one. 

We do it—Jesus doesn’t

As Christians we kinda like to believe it ain’t so true, yet it is. If Jesus were the countin’ sorta guy, he would have long ago continued on his way, leaving many of us to our ‘other lovers’. While we can be eternally grateful he is ever-faithful, it seems we would do well to pause occasionally and at least confess, repent and commit again to being faithful to the one we claim as our first love. 

So, who are these other lovers anyway? One of the easiest ways to discover clues as to whom and what we are being faithful is by examining our day-to-day choices. The Ten Commandments, tried and true, is a great place to start. For all the nuances and complexities hidden in the depths of Sacred Scripture, God really does give us a pretty simple template for being faithful. We can view the Big Ten as hard, fast and uncompromising rules imposed upon us by a judgmental, severe God—or we can see them as His gift to help keep us in loving relationship with Him and those with whom we share the journey. 

  1. Mirror, mirror on the wall…
Yep, lookin’ at that face starin’ back at us may give us our first real unsettlin’ reality check. What is it about gettin’ outa bed in the mornin’ that makes us think the better part of the day oughta be about what “I want and need”. And yet, Jesus speaks quietly to our heart in so many lovin’ ways—‘come to me with your weariness…ask and you shall receive…seek and you shall find.’ Our lover whispers. Are we listening? [Matthew 11:28-30]

  1. Big and little gods, idols all…
My job. My vacation. My ministry. My hobby. Jesus desires to be with us, to be part of every moment of our bein’ and doin’. And yet, this thing, that thing—all the things in the days of our life become our life—too often apart from the One most in love with us. The One most attentive to being a friend, an ever-present kind and compassionate companion. We look elsewhere. Everywhere but to his spirit within. [Matthew 28:20]

  1. Talkin’ up a blue streak…
Ever felt frustrated, lower than a mole, just plain ornery and cantankerous? Thoughtlessly, effortlessly, we take our lover’s name in many sayins’ of vain. After all, Jesus isn’t in the room—so we think. Or is he? Words harm. They can hurt, and at the very least, give witness to the real issues of our heart. [Proverbs 4:23-24]

  1. Lazy days and my ways…
One day a week. For him. For the Jesus we say we love. Even a few hours of that day, nevertheless, we go off on our own. To the park. To the bar-b-que. To the office. To a meeting. It’s not that havin’ fun is bad, but, from our choices, you could kinda figure Sunday is just another day. We want to get on with our plans and our way of spendin’ time. Did we pray and ask God where and what He desires?—which, for that matter, is a good idea for any day of the week. [Psalm 119:32-33]

  1. Elders have done their duty…
Conceivin’ and birthin’ me was the choice they made, right? So now, I figure, it’s my turn. My purpose, goals, hopes and dreams. Our parents, their parents, the generations before me, they’ve done their thing. Interesting—Jesus honored and respected his. Do I? Cheatin’ on the other sometimes means I tend to pay little attention to the very kinfolk who gave me this gift of life. [Leviticus 19:32]

We do it—Jesus doesn’t

  1. Killin’ and a woundin’…
Takin’ a life ain’t always about murderin’ someone in the flesh. That’s part of it. The other part can be just as nasty and hurtful. Like when I criticize, judge and persecute those who are different than me, including, on some days, the one who stares back at me in the mirror. Lover Jesus doesn’t want that kinda stuff happenin’. And yet it does—day in, day out. [Isaiah 42:3]

  1. Sleepin’ with another…
Philanderin’ in the flesh happens.  Too often. And then, in too many other ways, it happens in the thinkin’…in the feelin’…in attitudes and behaviors and actions. I let myself slip away from my lover Jesus in ways that break his heart and expose my selfishness. He not only promises to stick around, he does so without imposing himself on me for his personal gratification.  [Romans 6:16]

  1. Takin’ what ain’t mine…
Stealin’ stuff off the shelf or robbin’ the bank is one thing. Tryin’ to take another’s ideas, peace and joy, or good intentions is a whole other kettle of worms and yucky stuff.  Grabin’ to get is cheatin’ of the greedy kind. Jesus is more than enough for any and all of us. Plenty to go around, a lover with more to give than we can ever understand or comprehend. [Luke 6:38]

  1. Tellin’ fibs and makin’ up stories…
Not tellin’ the truth is something important your Momma warned ya’ about. Bearin’ false witness, whether against your neighbor or Jesus—the One who truly loves ya—is cheatin’ in an awful way. He promises he will not abandon us if we stick with the Truth, so best to forget about startin’ or repeatin’ that which isn’t. [Deuteronomy 31:6]

  1. Wantin’ what belongs to someone else…
What is it about out nature that we sho’ would like to have others stuff—their spouse, their house, their kids GPAs—basically most anything that seems more and better than our stuff? Not being satisfied, we forget the part about being grateful and thankful for the blessings we have been given, through the honest work of our hands, and the generosity of our lover, Jesus. Cheatin’ by covetin’ is not a pretty thing, in any shape or form. [Philippians 4:6]

We do it—Jesus doesn’t

Cheatin’ is a subtle kind of choice and behavior. For sure, cheatin’ on Jesus is not something we would consciously choose to do. In the same awareness, it is good, from time to time, to renew our sense of commitment to our first love, the preciousness that is the attentive presence of our Divine Lover, an incredible gift from a compassionate Father to His sons and daughters. 

There ain’t no cheatin’ in this kind of lovin’ may be the country-told-Truth. Speakin’ in that love language, seems Jesus would smile and relate--bein’ a kid from a small town and born in a stable with the animals, no less.

Is Jesus my first love?

Am I choosin’ to cheat a little here and there along the way?

Ten ways to be unfaithful—am I needin’ to fix my gaze on the One instead?

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