“. . . come together right now, over me!” ~ The Beatles
I read a Henry Ford quote this morning that grabbed me. It said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success!” Together . . . now there’s the rub. As a pastor, I have the privilege of “joining together” couples in the holy covenant of marriage. If you have any age on you at all, whether married or not, you know the easy part is coming together. Like the Henry Ford quote says – it’s a beginning. It’s the easy part. We come together in our organizations around a lot of different things – common beliefs, experiences, shared dreams, ideas, worthy causes, projects, etc. No one joins together with someone else with the idea, “this won’t last long.” I have never had a young couple sit down with me at the beginning of marriage counseling and ask to make provision for the divorce. We just don’t think that way – yet, so many ends up that way! The honeymoon doesn’t last – whether in marriage, at your new job, with your new house or car. The new wears off. The problems increase. Things start to break down. It’s at this point where we get to see what we are REALLY made of.
The second part of that quote says, “. . . keeping together is progress.” My mom and dad set the bar very high for the rest of our family. They were married almost 63 years when my father died. They hadn’t only come together, but they had kept together – through World War II that separated them by an ocean; through decades of economic challenges with raising four children; through job changes and health issues. Life made them to be different people than they were when they started – yet they continued to grow together even as they both changed as individuals over the years. Needless to say, it takes a huge commitment that is based on love when you see people finish together – starting is the easy part.
I think it’s in this “keeping together” stage where we have an eye-opening experience. We become disillusioned. And that’s not a bad thing – because the “illusion” has been removed. We begin to see things as they really are. Our mate, business partner, boss, coach, leader, pastor, friend – isn’t perfect. With that realization and some honesty, we sometimes painfully recognize that we aren’t either. It’s in these “crisis” moments that destiny is forged or lost. I either choose to acknowledge that God “joined me” to this person in marriage, in friendship, in a business partnership or spiritual relationship for the purpose of producing something that I could never accomplish alone or I completely discard it with a view that leaving it and starting over again will be the answer. Some people change jobs, marriages and churches like they trade cars. Something wrong with that! We fail to realize that we leave one situation and walk right into the next, carrying our same baggage and problems with us – only to wake up in a couple of years feeling like we’ve been here before, seen these same circumstances. We’re stuck in a relational “Ground Hog Day!”
As much as we’d like to take a snapshot of our happiest moment and freeze our lives in that place, we all know it’s not possible. Everything changes – we grow up , we grow older. So many things in the life of my family don’t even resemble the way things were done in the lives of my parents. We live and work differently; we travel and are entertained very differently. Yet, with all the changes, I learned something vital from my parents – I can’t make anything successful until I learn to work together with others.
Dawn and I will celebrate 25 years together this year. We are still learning how to work together. We have been pastoring Victory Church now for over 21 years. We are still learning in that arena of leadership as well. I am thankful to have the opportunity to see people come together regularly. The favor of God has been upon us and a lot more are coming together as we’ve seen growth. It’s an even greater blessing to see people willingly address differences that are a part of life and choose to keep together in their homes and marriages, on their jobs and in their local church. But the greatest accomplishment is seeing people make the choice and commit to working together to accomplish something that we could never do alone. I’m thankful to say that this is happening in the lives of our congregation right now more than I’ve ever seen it before in the history of our church. Jesus said in John 12:32, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people unto myself.” Jesus caused us to come together – can keep us together and can show us how to work together. Come together . . . right now, over Him!