To Have and to Hold
"Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful." James 5:11 (ESV)
As I sprayed the front porch with my water hose, dirt and bugs poured down the side of my house. Blasting those things was exhilarating. Everything came off under the pressure of that water. Everything except one big spider web.
So I got a stool to stand on, edged in even closer, and blasted that web again. The silken threads thrashed to and fro with each gust of water. But the spider, the web, and her eggs stayed intact.
They weren't going anywhere.
Flabbergasted, I thought to myself, "Spiders must have an inborn instinct to have and to hold. Under the greatest pressure, they don't let go.
It reminded me of a time several years ago, when a friend came to me in devastation. Her husband told her he didn't love her—in fact, he said, he had never loved her.
"It's over," she told me.
We talked and I then asked, "Can you hold on to the marriage for just a while longer? You have nothing to lose. You've already lost him."
I told her to become his greatest admirer. Find the good in him. She did. It didn't work.
I told her to make his favorite dinners and desserts. She did. It didn't work.
I told her to make love to him as never before. She did. It didn't work.
I told her to do the things she knows he likes done. She did. It didn't work.
I told her to pray non-stop for him. She did. It didn't work.
I told her to tell him, "I vowed to you that I would hold on no matter what." She told him. But he didn't care.
After a month she came to me with tears in her eyes and said, "It's not working Sharon."
"He's not gone yet is he?" I said. "I know it's hard, but keep doing it... because love always protects, always hopes, and always perseveres."
She took a deep breath.
She chose to keep doing it. And very gradually things started shifting. He started enjoying the dinners at the table and all the other things she was doing for him—even intimacy.
A year later they found themselves passionately in love with one another. For the first time.
Now, I know the story is not going to turn out the same for everyone. I've given the same advice to others without the same results. But I can give you this advice with confidence: when the storms come—and they will—hold on tight, just like the spiders on my porch.
God calls us to have a love that perseveres and hopes. We can't choose what kind of love the other party will give in return, but there is power in God's kind of love—a holding-on kind of love.
To have and to hold means you've got to hold on when the storm rages. And even if it knocks you off kilter, ask the Lord to give you strength to get back up and hold on some more.
I finally got all the spiders and their webs off my porch. It looked beautiful.
As I was gathering my cleaning supplies and enjoying the clean porch, I saw spiders crawling back up the wall.
I smiled. If I can't get rid of them, at least I can learn a lesson from them!
Dear Lord, help me to have a love that perseveres through hard times. Help me to love the way You've called me to love. Give me hope, strength and wisdom as only You can do. You know I need it. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Are there areas of your marriage that you need to work on? Have you lost hope because you haven't seen the fruit of all your labor?
Ask God to help you and show you areas where you can grow. Ask Him to show you practical ways you can love better. Make an action plan of how you are going to tackle these areas.
James 5:11, "We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful." (NAS)
2 Thessalonians 3:5, "May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ." (ESV)