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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine arrangement
Valentine arrangement

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"Lasting Love"

"So she became his wife, and he loved her" (Genesis 24:67b).

Today is Valentine's Day when we especially celebrate romantic love.  The lobby downstairs has red and white balloons scattered about the room along with several Valentine flower arrangements.   There are retailers playing up this special day with sales events and romantic get-aways everywhere we travel. With all the reminders flashing before our eyes there can be no excuse in forgetting this special day.  This evening Brooksyne and I plan to go out to dinner together and celebrate. Ester will be with some friends of ours from Lancaster County who are also visiting Myrtle Beach this week.

There's no shortage of photos and stories of young love, couples in the springtime of their relationship; vibrant, strong, and attractive. Yesterday we heard the story about a marriage proposal on the beach with the man making a huge heart in the sand to stage the big question. But today we want to share a story that goes beyond that of initial romance to one of lasting love.

Bill Fernan is one of many treasured friends we've known through our journey of life. He and his wife, Lenore, lived in the mountains of northern Pennsylvania in a spacious farmhouse with a great big barn behind it. He was an engineer and inventor who was always designing something new and original. We were amazed the day he showed us his own nautilus type fitness center he'd designed and built using bricks as weights.  He was a thin man but strong because he worked out on a daily basis.  Brooksyne made visits often since Bill made custom mats and beautiful wooden frames in a room off his large barn.  In fact she and Bill did a little bartering where he'd make mats and frames for her and she'd do calligraphy for select pictures he was framing.

Later in life Bill's wife, Lenore, had a debilitating stroke and instead of admitting her to the nursing home Bill chose to lovingly care for her at home.  He fed her, changed her, and every three or four hours, day and night, Bill would gently turn her over so she wouldn't get bed sores.  Several years later when she finally went to a nursing home Bill told us he would still awaken each night at the accustomed time. While we were living in Massachusetts we received word that our greatly respected friend, Bill Fernan, had passed away.  He was in his mid-eighties at the time.  His wife was still living and being cared for in a nursing home.

According to our western customs Isaac had a most unusual courtship.  His was clearly an arranged marriage, dutifully executed by Abraham's faithful servant, and thoroughly recorded in Genesis 24 (which happens to be the longest chapter in Genesis.)  They had just met one another on the occasion of our daily verse and I'm intrigued by the phrase "he loved her."

This is the first time this expression is found in Scripture and indeed Isaac and Rebekah began a long and eventful life together marked by lasting marital love.  Although we don't know how old Rebekah was when she died, we are told that Isaac married at 40 and lived until he was 180!  Scripture records that they were buried together.

His love for her is demonstrated when he prays for her on the occasion of her barrenness (Genesis 25:21.)  Later, after the twins, Esau and Jacob, were born Scripture records the two in a passionate embrace (26:8).  (The KJV uses the word "sporting", the NIV "caressing".)  Still later we find the aging couple agonizing over the bad decisions their children had made (26:35, 27:46).

Like any marriage there was some conflict in the home and much overcoming, yet their marriage endured the storms of life.  They surely had many of the same challenges we have today.  They differed in their interests and very likely their personality and temperament.  They dealt with infertility, sibling rivalry, favoritism and grief over their son Esau's marriages.  Our last glimpse into Rebekah shows her and Isaac heartbroken as they send their son Jacob off to get a wife from her relative's clan (Gen. 27:46).

What is the picture of marital love that you have?  The passion of newlyweds, a young couple as they push their newborn baby in a stroller, or an 80-year-old as he regularly turns his invalid wife to prevent bedsores? 

Look at the daily verse.  Do you remember the words to a song "Put a little love in your heart….and the world will be a better place!" What would our present world look like if husbands and wives everywhere genuinely loved their spouses with an enduring and sacrificial love like Bill Fernan demonstrated to his wife, Lenore? Flowers, jewelry, and candies are nice gifts that warmly say "I'm thinking of you this Valentine's Day." 

But carrying out our promise to love our spouse "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer till death do us part" is the greatest demonstration of one whose love has matured from that of romantic love to that of a tested abiding love.  Think about that this Valentine's Day!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, Your love for us is most visible when we consider the great sacrifice You made for us as You died for our sins.   The love we have for our spouse is not always convenient but at times is costly requiring great sacrifice.  Help us to take our vows seriously and carry out that which we promise so that our tested love becomes an enduring love.  As we do so, we honor the sacrament of marriage that You ordained, we honor our spouse, we are an example to others, and we fulfill the Scriptural command to be faithful to our mate.

Dave & Millie
Dave and Millie are friends of ours who will soon celebrate their 63rd anniversary. They sure demonstrate lasting love!

Singing fudge maker
We were walking through a tourist type area with shops here in Myrtle Beach when we heard a group singing, "My fudge, talking about my fudge" (To the tune of "My Girl").  We walked in a fudge shop and saw a singing fudge maker who really enjoyed his work and put on quite a show, leading the customers in an impromptu choir!

Today's Suggested Music and
Supplemental Resources

We do not have access to the internet in our room where we are staying this week. I normally seek to find audio files of specific songs that relate to the message but am unable to do so this week.  Late each morning we walk down to a coffee shop that has wireless internet to send these messages out. So all through this week we will share two playlists that have an assortment of music.

Info about multi-media files used on daily encouragement.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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