Several years ago, I spoke to a “Single Parents Raising Kids” group. The experience broke my heart because it stimulated a trip down memory lane. After my parents divorced I was raised by a single parent. Tears formed easily as I listened to stories about past and present circumstances. So much pain.
Single-parenting isn't easy. A major part of the challenge is previously broken or currently breaking relationships. Ex-spouses, step-parents, visitation, legal issues.
Relationships. You can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them. Lots of people feel this way. At times, I feel this way.
The final bullet point on the group handouts provoked discussion.
“Relationships: Are they worth it?”
I usually utter some form of that question when disappointed, rejected, forgotten or betrayed. Soon thereafter, the temptation to live as an island (preferably ON an island) begins. But isolation is not an option. Is it?
The Christian can answer simply, “Relationships have to be worth it because Jesus Christ came to earth and lived among us, as one of us, for this very reason.” His purpose was to reconcile a broken relationship between humankind and God; and it was a purpose He accomplished by paying the highest price.
Consider what Jesus experienced in His relationships — scorn, abuse, misunderstanding, and betrayal to name a few. And still, He died willingly? Even for the scoundrels? Even for me? Yes.
Peter denied Christ three times. The rooster crows, Jesus looks at Peter and he spontaneously wails with grief. Peter betrayed and abandoned his Friend. And Peter, the determined, passionate, and zealous one failed to keep his vow.
After His resurrection, Jesus reinstated His repentant friend and issued this challenge, “Peter, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you,” Peter replied. “Feed my sheep,” Jesus said. (John 21:15, my paraphrase)
People. It’s all about people. “Feed my sheep,” “Take care of my sheep.”
Jesus didn't give up on people. So, if I claim to follow Him and walk like Him, neither can I. It’s not easy, but abandoning people is not an option. He didn't just think relationships were worth it He lived like they were. If Jesus can do that, I can do that. I need to do that. I must do that.
What Jesus did, I can do . . .
Lord, You didn't say relationships would be easy. They aren't Thanks for doing what was right, though, and not what was easy. What You did, we can do. Thanks for counting us worth it, then for asking us to follow You. Please help us to pass that on by persisting in the relationships on our path. In Jesus’ name. Amen.