Don't Let Go of the Rope!
When I was a kid, Dad borrowed a speed boat from his business partner, and we pulled it down to our cabin on Lake Gaston in Carolina. Actually, it wasn't a cabin but an old burned-out trailer Dad had rebuilt and restored. And it wasn't on the lake but in the vicinity of the lake. But it was our retreat into nature, and the only time this city kid was able to hunt and fish. It was also the only time this (clumsy) city kid ever tried to water ski. Or maybe I should say, it was the time my father tried to kill me teaching me how to ski!
The story goes like this. After unloading the boat and getting a brief lesson on water safety and skiing fundamentals, we were off. My sister went first, and within minutes she was skiing circles around the lake… so I knew that it had to be easy. When my turn came, and I gave the ready sign, and Dad took off with the boat. I came up to my feet like a shot, paused for half a second (if that long), and went right over onto my face. Then the fun really began! Dad pulled me behind that boat for what seemed like ten miles-- UNDERWATER. In all the excitement, I forgot to let go of the rope. In fact, I didn’t know that I could let go of the rope. I’m not sure why Dad kept going-- maybe he wanted to see how long his idiot son would hang onto the rope. So I was dragged along bobbing and weaving, diving and surfacing like a Rebel minnow on fast retrieve. Finally the boat came to a stop and my miserable life was spared. I honestly did not know that I could just let go of the rope.
On December 30, 1977, Lynn walked down one of the aisles (they had two) of the Colonial Heights church building and for some reason pledged to be my wife for as long as we both shall live. I guess I'll never know exactly why she did that, but I thank God that she did. My ship came in that day, but it has not been only smooth sailing all the time. The lake has gotten a bit rough. At times I have made her life as bumpy as my first (and only) skiing lesson. There have been twists and turns, flips and bumps. But we are still going strong. And the reason for that is that, like my skiing experience, we just refuse to turn loose! Letting go is just not an option, no matter how bumpy the ride gets.
My sermon Sunday is on divorce. What was almost unheard of when I was a kid is now commonplace. Put 100 average adult people in a room, and 25 of them will have gone through a divorce. For every 10 marriages in our country, there are 4 (or more) divorces. We have learned at some point that not only is it possible to let go of the rope, in a growing number of life situations, you are basically expected to do so.
The issue of divorce for Christian is a complex one, and my sermon Sunday may muddy the water more than it clarifies. But there is one thing that I know for certain from scripture. God hates divorce. Period. Every time a divorce happens, the will of God and the heart of God are broken. We can spend a lot of time discussing “exception clauses” and “the Pauline Privilege.” We can come to the text looking for loopholes. And we can make the Sermon on the Mount a more restrictive legalistic system than the Pharisaic system Jesus was trying to correct. But what remains clear is that God hates divorce. For those seeking to please God, maybe that should be enough.