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Love and Marriage: Going The Second Mile

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Faith's Firm Foundation: Love and Marriage: Going The Second Mile

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Love and Marriage: Going The Second Mile

He had come in early, as was his custom now. The silent, dark halls echoed as he walked to the elevator and pushed the button. No one ever came in this early, so he knew he'd be alone.  The tomb-like silence of the empty office suite provided the perfect backdrop for his morning meetings with the Lord.  This was where he could pour out his heart and talk honestly with God--and himself.
Sitting now at his solid mahogany desk, he turned his attention to the monthly task he had come to dread and asked himself again, "Why is this so hard?"  Every muscle in his face was taut and his temples throbbed, as he wrote the check.  He knew he was gripping the pen too tightly, but he didn't want his hand to shake. Focusing with extreme determination, he filled in the amount, then slowly and carefully tore it out of the checkbook, and placed it on his desk, pressing it down with the palm of his hand.  There, it was done, for another month, at least. Leaning his elbows on the massive desk, and folding his hands, a muscle in his jaw twitched.  He couldn't stand it any longer, and he let loose on himself.  "What is the matter with you, man?! It's just a check. It's not like you can't afford it!"  Pushing himself away from the desk, he raised his 6'2" frame and began pacing back and forth across the length of the office.  Every now and then, he gazed out the bank of windows, where city lights lit up the predawn darkness. Muttering under his breath, he gave himself yet another tongue-lashing.  "It's the right thing to do. You know that. We've been all through this a million times," he chided himself.  "You've given your heart to the Lord.  You've got to keep a clear conscience and show her and the kids that you've changed!  Even though they've forgiven you, they've got to see that Christ has the power to change a person!"  He sat back down, turning his thoughts as he had a thousand times before, to how it had all gone down in the end.  They'd both been unfaithful in their own ways.  They'd said and done stupid things.  Immature, selfish, hurtful things. Thinking they had no other recourse, the papers were signed and it was done before either of them had stopped to think about the ramifications, what it would mean... She'd finally forgiven him, but... "I've forgiven her, haven't I, Lord?" He sighed. Leaning back into the black leather sofa, he looked around his plush executive office, and thought about his life.  Examining himself was new to him.  But more and more, these morning talks with his Lord and Savior had been a catharsis for him. "I have.  I know I have," he answered his own question aloud.  "Then, why am I so angry?" he thought to himself for the hundredth time.  This morning, all the pent-up anger and frustration, guilt and desire, had exploded like Mount Vesuvius inside him.

Running his fingers through the shock of thick black hair, just a hint of gray beginning to appear at the temples, he sighed again.  He was a man who was used to being in control.  Professionally, he had always been able to handle any situation and had risen to the top of his field, fast.  Physically, he was a specimen of perfection.  Joe had taken care of himself, and it showed.  Always one to watch his weight, he worked out, and ate right.  His marriage was another story.  God had used the breakup to get through to him.  He had recognized for the first time that God cared about him.  And cared about his actions.  He knew he was no saint, but now he knew he was a sinner, and never could do enough to be good enough for a perfect and Holy God.  It was humbling. But God had shown him that He had done what Joe couldn't begin to, through Jesus' death on the cross for him. He'd given Joe faith to believe in this risen Christ, and accept His forgiveness. Even though he wasn't sure he liked this new feeling of Someone else being in control, since he had given Christ the reins of his life, he had been at peace for the first time.  He was a new man.  He knew he was forgiven and he knew God was with him.  He'd made changes in his life. For one, he was determined to do right by Anne.  No one could accuse him of not doing right by her and the kids.  Punctual to a fault with his alimony checks, he even sent them early at holidays and birthdays.  Still, he just couldn't seem to shake these feelings.

He didn't know what to do to stop being angry and bitter.  "Lord, what do You want me to do?  Haven't I done everything a man could do?  What more do You want from me, Lord?!!"   As he cried out to God, involuntarily his eyes lifted up to the ceiling, as though seeing through to heaven's domain. He  didn't know what he expected. But there, in the quietness of this plush office suite, he heard God say as clearly as if He were in the room, "Go the second mile."
The second mile.
"And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile,
go with him twain." 
Matthew 5:41
Custom was, in occupied Israel a Roman soldier could ask a young Jewish boy to carry his pack a mile.  Anywhere. Any time. The boy was required to do it.  It is not difficult to imagine the feelings of the Israelite people towards this custom, and being interrupted and forced to do this service for their enemies.  Every boy felt the anger and bitterness every step of that mile. Jesus, teaching His disciples, told them, "Go the second mile."  What?!!  Are you insane, Lord!? "Go the second mile." They must have thought, "I'm doing what's expected of me. I don't have to do one thing more."  

But that's not God's way.  In doing just what was expected of them, they still seethed inside.  Only when they did what was not expected of them, and went the second mile, did they put into practice the principle of loving your enemies and doing good to them that curse you.  You can imagine that in the second mile, the soldier would inevitably ask, "Why are you doing this??"  In the second mile, Christ shines.  For there's only one reason to go the second mile, and that reason is Jesus Christ, and what He's done in your life. 

Joe sat down at his desk and picked up the check. He held it in the air and ripped it into little pieces.  Then, in obedience to his Lord, he took the pen and began writing a new check. With every stroke, he felt more free and joy began bubbling up inside of him, as he wrote another check, for more than was expected. 

"Go the second mile."  In that second mile is freedom. Freedom from bitterness, freedom from serving man, and freedom to serve and obey Christ.  Freedom to show the world a better way. 

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Matthew 5:39-48:
39But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
 40And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
 41And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
 42Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
 43Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
 44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
 45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
 46For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
 47And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
 48Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

The above story is fictional; it was inspired by a story told, in a Seminar I attended years ago, by Bill Gothard.

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Blogger Denise said...

Great post.

June 30, 2010 at 10:38 PM  
Blogger Jamie~ said...

Oh, wow. That was so powerful that I got the goosebumps!

July 1, 2010 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Wow! Can't ask for much more than that (goosebumps, I mean)! Going the second mile and turning the other cheek are so absolutely contrary to our human nature--it is definitely not natural--it's supernatural!
Totally not possible without Him doing it.
(How're you guys doing, Jamie? Hope you're doing well--Love your new profile photo--didn't realize you were in Arizona, either! My husband sometimes has to travel to AZ.)

July 1, 2010 at 10:06 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Wie gehen Sie, meine freunden? Glad you're visiting, my German friends!

July 1, 2010 at 10:10 PM  

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