Do I Have To?
It was bedtime, the wife asked her husband to give her a goodnight kiss. He light-heartedly responded, “Do I have to?” She quipped, “Yes, you have to…but not that kind of have to!” You know what she meant, don’t you?
Does the mother of the infant child have to stay up during the watches of the night when her baby is ill and running a fever? Yes…she has to…but not that kind of “have to.” When one’s friend receives tough news, does he have to go to be with him? Yes…he has to…but not that kind of “have to.” When your child is to receive an honor at some ceremony, do you have to change your schedule, get all dressed up and go sit through it all? Yes…you have to…but not that kind of “have to.” And when your mother or your father experiences the dreaded downward spiral of old age and weakening health, do you have to go…do you have to witness the indignities…do you have to bathe, feed and comfort them as best you are able…do you have to oppose them for their own good? Yes…you do have to…but not that kind of “have to.”
The proper kind of “have to” arises from within one’s own heart…out of a supply put there by Another. Not because people are expecting something of us. Not because we will feel bad if we don’t step in. Not because our reputation will suffer if we are a no-show. No. We move under the compulsion of a heart full of love. If our beloved suffer, we will show up, even at the cost of tears and toil and leaving our comfort zone, simply because we can do no other. And how long will we stay? How much will we do? We don’t think that way. Love doesn’t waste time calculating hours and cost and levels of commitment. It gives no thought as to how it can pull out at an opportune time and be done with the hardship. It just can’t think that way. Do we really have to cry, to pray, to exhaust ourselves, to get messy, to speak, to be frustrated, to question, to hurt deep down and then wake up to another day of the same? Yes…we have to…but not that kind of “have to.”
Did our Lord have to come down from His glory, live out the wonderful story and pour out His blood to redeem us? Yes…He had to…but not that kind of “have to.” His love left Him no choice…no choice that His great heart could even consider.
Do I have to go to church? Do I have to give of my means? Do I have to sing? To pray? To read? To share? To listen? To be devoted to others? To weep and rejoice? To confess and repent? To struggle with sin? To walk in His steps? To grow? To care? To love?
Well…what do you think?