Summary: Christian parents need to model and teach what it means to keep one’s word.
For 13 months during World War II, a young Army Lieutenant named John Blanchard was overseas. While there, he fell in love with a woman he had never seen or met in person. Through a complex sequence of unlikely events, he had become a pen pal with a woman named Hollis Maynell. As they corresponded, they began to open their hearts to each other and it soon fell in love.
When Blanchard received orders to return to the States, they arranged to meet in person on a particular night at Grand Central Station in New York at 7:00 p.m. Since neither one had ever seen the other, she told him to look for a woman with a red rose on her lapel. At one minute before 7:00 on the appointed day, Blanchard waited nervously as people walked toward him.
He said, "A young woman came toward me. She was tall and slim, with blond hair. In her pale green suit, she was like springtime come alive. I started toward her, failing to notice that she was not wearing a rose. And as I moved in her direction, she smiled and asked, ’Going my way, soldier?’ Almost uncontrollably I took a another step closer to her. And then I saw Hollis Maynell.
"She was standing almost directly behind the girl. A plump woman well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat. But she wore a red rose on the lapel of her coat. The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away, and I felt as though I was being split in two--so strong was my desire to follow her and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me and upheld me during the long months overseas. And there she stood. Her face was gentle and sensible, her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had been and must ever be grateful.
"I squared my shoulders and saluted, ’I’m Lt. John Blanchard, and you must be Miss Maynell." Even as I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment. ’I am so glad you could meet me here,’ I continued. ’May I take you to dinner?’
"The woman’s face broadened in a confused smile. ’I don’t know what this is all about, son,’ she answered, ’but that young lady in the green suit who just went by - she begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And then she said if you were to ask me out to dinner I should tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test."
What was the test? It was the test of being true to your word. This is the value that we want to think about today. Fidelity - being true to your word; keeping your commitments, fulfilling your promises. Webster’s dictionary defines fidelity as FAITHFULNESS.
Hollis Maynell wanted to know if Lt. John Blanchard was a faithful man. Could he be counted on to do what he said he would do, even when it looked like things weren’t going to work out as he had hoped? But she wasn’t alone in her search. All of us are looking for relationships that are characterized by fidelity or faithfulness. In fact, our passage for today tells us that God is looking for people who practice fidelity.
There is much that we could say today about valuing fidelity. But allow me to focus on one area where fidelity - faithfulness - being practiced, modeled, and taught, will make a radical difference in our culture.
Years ago, Christian counselor and author Charlie Shedd came out with a book called, "The Best Dad Is A Good Lover." The idea being that one of the best things parents could ever do for their children is to practice, model, and teach fidelity and faithfulness - to demonstrate to their kids what it really means to love someone with an "unfailing love" as the Bible expresses it in verse 6 of our text.
According to the Stepfamily Foundation, one out of two marriages ends in divorce, with the average marriage in America lasting only seven years. According to pollster, George Barna, "Baptists have the highest divorce rate of any Christian denomination, and are more likely to get a divorce than atheists and agnostics."
It is generally considered by researchers that couples today have a deficit of skills with which to make partnerships last. Why? Because the longer the trend toward infidelity continues in our marriages, the fewer examples of fidelity there are for children to learn from. What a difference could be made in our families and our culture, if marriage partners would practice faithfulness in their vows to one another.