Today is my parents 47th wedding anniversary. 47 years ago my father married my mother. After dropping out of school in the 8th grade to help support his family through the depression, then going to serve in the Korean war and then returning home to be a bachelor farmer Dad married my Mom. Their marriage is a true example of two phrases that fascinate me in scripture, different versions depending on your translation, “set his heart or determined in his heart” and with “your whole heart.” Several of God’s commands say do it “…with your whole heart.” People in scripture “set their hearts.” Setting in your heart is making a decision ahead of time and with your whole heart, well that’s obvious. Back to Dad, he married my Mom in 1946 in a small community in southwest Iowa where everybody knew everybody and when being a single mom was not nearly so prevalent as it is today. He not only got Mom, he got my brother and I. He determined in his heart this was the thing to do and he gave us his whole heart. He ignored the talk around town and loved us like his own from day one and so did his whole family I might add. Dad took us in and completely committed himself to loving all of us. Through the smart-alec talk of young teenagers, broken curfews, ball games and music lessons.He was there. He legally adopted us as soon as he was able. We have his name. We are his children.
Today, Dad continues with his lifelong decision. They are off the farm now, living in town where Dad takes care of my mother with Alzheimers. I haven’t mentioned how he also opened his heart to Mom’s whole family and now has 3 widowed sister-in-laws which he helps with in any way he can. And then there is the 94 year old neighbor man…well you get the idea. When I was younger I didn’t understand my Dad’s quiet witness of love. He’s not a talker. He shows you the love of God by example. I’ll never forget the day or two before and the day of their farm sale. Men just kept showing up to help, most were close neighbors but others drove miles to come and help. They told my brother and I countless stories of times my Dad had been there for them and that they were pleased to be able to help him back. He made a difference in their lives because when he was a young man he determined in his heart to give his whole heart to loving God and loving his neighbor like himself.” I get it now. It’s a matter of the heart.
As we consider relationships and “matters of the heart” this month think about your “heart”. Have you given in wholly to God? Are you all in? My Dad’s commitment effected my life and is still. If we live “all in for Christ” who might we effect? What’s stopping you? Let’s do this together!