Between the Extremes

It’s my Sweetie’s birthday.

It’s a quiet day after several days of traveling and being with precious family and friends. Having attended a lovely wedding yesterday and having been honored to conduct a wedding ceremony two weekends past has caused me to reflect upon the vows she and I made almost 32 years ago.

The officiating minister that day got a little tangled up and said, “in sickness and in wealth, in poverty and in health…” It was kind of funny.

The traditional wedding vows are a set of extremes or opposites: poverty and wealth (richer or poorer), sickness and health, for better or worse, and so on. These extremes, of course, are opposite ends of different kinds of measures of life.

The truth is that most of us will never see the extremes in real life. We may have seasons of relative poverty but will never be truly poor by the objective measurements of the world we live in. We may have times that we have more sickness than health. We will probably have really great times (the “better”) and will surely experience some difficult seasons (the “worse”). 

But most of life is lived in between the extremes. If there is a secret to a joy-filled marriage, I think it might be in learning to recognize that there are so many things to be grateful for no matter what the circumstances around us that seem to be pressing in upon us.

It is to see the better when the worse tries to cloud our vision. It is to recognize the richness of our lives even when some resources seem to be running low. It is learning to be grateful for the health to keep active enough to injure ourselves in our sleep.

It’s easy to miss the blessings when the burden of the moment seems to demand our attention. This morning I want to encourage you to remember that most of life happens between the extremes.

I suppose it’s closely related to what Paul was teaching his friends in Philippi when he wrote these words:

“… for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”

Philippians 4.11-12

To be content is, in essence, to be mindful of the blessings you have instead of the things you don’t have. In all of the years of birthdays I’ve shared with my beloved, very few of them have seen us in especially wealthy circumstances or in dire straits. None of them have been in the health we want or strive to attain but never have we been questioning whether we would live to see the next one.

In all of these seasons together, some better and some worse, there has never been a moment that we haven’t known that we were richly, deeply, and profoundly blessed to just be together.

Happy birthday, Sweetie.

I don’t know where we’re going, but we’re going together. And, if you ever leave me, I’m going with you.

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