"But how can you participate, Leona? You aren't 'a couple' anymore. Aren't you a widow?"
Yes, Ted and I were a couple for forty-six years. Our wedding vows were "Till death do us part." And death did part us twenty-five years ago.
Remember that hymn, "Loved with everlasting love"? Some of the lyrics are: "His forever, only His; Who the Lord and me shall part? In a love which cannot cease, I am His and He is mine; But while God and I shall be, I am His and He is mine...." The renewing of vows I am talking about are my declarations of "I do!" between my Lord and me. Not on the occasion of a twenty-fifth or fiftieth anniversary, but daily! And out loud!
Why should I start each day as I awaken by declaring my commitment to the Lord? Isn't pledging myself to God a one-time decision like a wedding ceremony? Why repeat it? Who hears it anyway?
It is important that three set of ears hear my daily vows renewed.
First, with my own ears I hear myself declaring, "Lord, I present my body a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is [my] spiritual service of worship" (Romans 12:1). I renew my "first love" to You, Lord. Today I renew the surrender of my mortal body with all its needs, disorders, and growing limitations with the years. I remind myself that I am not my own; I am all Yours today: body, soul and eternal spirit, mind, emotions, my will, all that I am, all that I have, all that I hold in stewardship from You. I renew my vow that I want to do Your will today on earth as it is done in Heaven."
The devil is listening. He is not omniscient or omnipotent. He is not a mind-reader as God is, so he can't know my thoughts. But he can hear my words. I give him notice that he has no authority over me. He hears me repeat my vows. He realizes that he must back off because once again as I have re-declared Jesus' Lordship over all my life, and specifically this day. He can't interfere with my vow to do God's will.
God hears me! He doesn't get weary or bored with my expressions of love. As the chorus goes: "I love You Lord, and I lift my voice to worship You, O my soul, rejoice! Take joy, my King, in what You hear. May it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear."
God delights to hear my verbal desire to give Him my "first love." He accepts my daily declaration and blesses me with His graces according to my needs and His good and perfect plans for me in the day ahead.
With Nehemiah I pray and renew my vows, "O Lord, I beseech Thee, may Thine ear be attentive to the prayer of Thy servant...who delights to revere Thy name, and make Thy servant successful today...." (Neh. 1:11)
How about my friends who have never been married? You can also renew your marriage vows. "For your husband is your Maker, whose name is the Lord of hosts...." (Isaiah 54:5). There is no "until death do us part" in your relationship with God. You too may declare, "Loved with everlasting love: I am His and He is mine." Jesus, in turn, has promised, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).