A year ago, the arrival of a tiny puppy into our household rocked my world. My entire summer was devoted to caring for and learning to train our new Australian Labradoodle. The ensuing months continued to be puppy-centric as we persevered in the process of helping our doodle become a member of the family. Lucy is now officially a dog. Although there is undoubtedly a good bit of training work still to be done, she has indeed become a member of the family. There are moments when I miss coming home, scooping her out of her crate, and holding her against my chest like a baby. On the whole, though, I so appreciate the relationship I have developed with her that I would not choose to return to puppyhood even if I had the chance. I love where we are, right here, right now.
When a man and woman fall in love, the wonder of the relationship and the excitement of infatuation dominate life. Research by Christian psychologists suggests that this period is important for the bonding that will lead to a lasting marriage. But it is also well understood that a couple cannot live in a newly-in-love state on a long-term basis. Eventually, the honeymoon will be over. Maturing love begins. It is then that marriage partners can begin to enjoy the deepening of their relationship as they live life together.
It seems to me that as brothers and sisters in Christ, we can learn from my experience with Lucy and my observation of marriage relationships. The beginning of relationship is special, sometimes seemingly magical. But if we don’t move forward into a maturing relationship, we will become increasingly disappointed by and frustrated with our relationships. As we worship together, pray together, work together, and grow together, we will inevitably go beyond the newness of relationship to the nitty gritty work of becoming one in Christ in spite of our sin and brokenness. This work may not always feel as good as new relationship felt, but it is well worth the persistent effort that mature relationship requires.
We are now in full summer. The new, fresh, glorious days of spring are now past. While Spring was a treat after the winter we had, we have moved on to the fruit-bearing season. In spring’s place is the season for mature fruit. The bounty of fresh produce available is a testimony to God’s creative energy as well as a blessing to us. And the fruit we enjoy now was not available in the glorious days of spring. May we see our relationships with one another in a similar manner. Summer is the season of barbeques, pool parties, and walks in the park. We have lots of opportunities to pursue fellowship with one another. These relationships may not be as exciting as they once were, but now we have the opportunity to experience the richness of shared experience and the fruit that the Lord is producing in, through, and among us.