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GUEST COLUMN: A desirous end to our faith

Deck Cheatham

Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for more than 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton.

Naivety is an admission no one wishes to share, but it is a quality we all possessed at one time in our life. Some hold onto it longer than they should. Life (and usually silence) cures it.

I offer you my own passage with all the confidence (naivety) a young male possesses. Fresh is the memory that as my wife and I were attending pre-marital counseling in preparation for our wedding day and life together, the wedding vows entered the discussion.

Being the traditionalist (naive), I expressed my desire (naive again) to include the word “obey” (obtuse and naive) in her part of the ceremony. With 33 years of joyful marriage as a reminder, I now know (not naive anymore) reality can trump desire.

Obedience is an old word, a heavy word. It has fallen from favor by a consuming give-it-to-me-now society that craves permissiveness over patience. Obedience paints a picture of God (masquerading as my mother) forcing an “innocent” lad into cutting his own hickory switch to be used as punishment.

As Christians, our dilemma is a bit more problematic. The good book is clear. We are to be obedient; and any sincere or deep desire to be faithful to God, to be truly grateful in our life for his prevenient grace, demands our obedience. Willfully, we live by exception, not rule. In Christ, only grace, love and forgiveness compel us toward obedience, even while we cling to exception, by enlightening us to the truth in both masters.

Alas, we fail in an effort to be obedient not because we are imperfect, but because we fail to comprehend. We stumble in a desire not to be burdened, while lacking in understanding and wisdom, in seeking and not seeing, in hearing and not listening, in speaking and saying nothing. Perhaps we have become disconnected from God’s manner of speaking or maybe it is from indifference and lethargy.

As God calls me to faithfulness, obedience also seeks my attention. Not fully understanding, I desire it so.

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). This verse abides in me. The thought never leaves me. It enfolds me. Faith, hope, and love cohere in my heart. This trinity, given at the moment grace appears, inclines me toward obedience.

In God’s love, no longer is obedience the oppressive, burdensome weight we cannot endure. No longer is it a command, but a desirous end to our faith, our hope, and our love for God. Only in love can I be impelled to that desire. Only in love can I submit myself to God’s call to faithful obedience.

I remember that premarital session. I remember the patient, wry, smile on my wife’s face. I remember the minister, in his wisdom, glossing over my request. I remember my naivety. Obedience has been relegated to time undeterred. Undeterred, it waits. It waits for us.

“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15).

Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for more than 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton. Contact him at pgadeacon@gmail.com.