Tuesdevo: Uncertain Devotion

It caught my eye when I was bringing the trash out one morning. A piece of paper – looked to be 8 1/2 by 11, folded over. At first, I thought it was a church bulletin from someplace. Not wanting to have stray paper on the ground, I walked over, picked it up and intended to put it in the trash. The words caught my eye: ‘To Hannah”. There was a picture on the “cover” – badly faded and scratched up. But I think it was a print of a photo of a man and a woman. I couldn’t help myself. I opened it up …

There was another picture on the inside cover – better preserved for it being protected from direct contact with the weather. A man and a woman, standing with one arm around each other, gazing with smiling faces at the camera. They looked to be in a classroom – a college classroom perhaps?

I began to read … “Hannah, I love you so much. You are so perfect and amazing …” Then, I just couldn’t read any more. I felt I was intruding. I closed the love note, and began to speculate. How did such a thing end up on the ground in front of my house? Wouldn’t one take better care of such a note – perhaps save it, put it in a scrapbook. Or, at the very least, when it was time to discard it, make sure it was discreetly placed in the recycle bin – down beneath a piece of cardboard or a plastic bottle – someplace where it could not be read by roving eyes, or blow away onto someone’s yard? Aren’t such expressions of devotion (and acclamations of love and perfection!) to be savored?

Did the affection between Hannah and her beau end badly? Abruptly? Had something happened to fracture it? Did the author of the note discover imperfections in his lover? Did Hannah collapse under the burden of having to sustain the appearance of perfection? Or had she received so many expressions of affection like this that she didn’t have to worry about squandering them?

Human devotion can be fragile, and fickle. It easily buckles under the weight of disappointment. Disagreements – even over small things – can render our devotion cracked and crumbling.

Who – or what – are you devoted to? Who are the people or the circumstances you keep returning to, no matter how much disappointment or frustration they cause you?

As followers of Jesus we are called to be devoted to at least this: Truth, and Christ. Not “truth” as we want it to be, but “Truth” as it actually is. Christ, not a sugarcoated spirituality, but an incarnate, blood-in-his-veins messiah who is as familiar and comfortable with getting down and getting dirty as he is with rising from the dead and ascending into heaven.

As uncertain as our devotion can be, Christ’s devotion to God and to us is unwavering. I don’t know the status of the relationship between Hannah and the man who wrote this love note to her. But I do know this: Hannah is loved – not because she is perfect, but because she is a child of God. I hope she knows this. If she doesn’t, I hope she meets someone who will share the good news with her.

A blessed Tuesday to you.

Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.