Bound by Love’s Strong Cord
Steve Wellman, New Hope Church, 200 E. New Hope Road, Goldsboro,
Jeremiah 13:11, Matt 11:29
There was a spiritual retreat held recently in North Carolina. People from several denominations were in attendance. One of the activities at the retreat was an obstacle course challenge. This obstacle course was unique because it involved two people cooperating, bound together with a rope. It was a profound reminder that we don’t travel as mavericks in church life. We are bound together by covenant. How we travel will depend on how we take one another into consideration. Although this is a creative activity to teach this lesson, it certainly isn’t unique to the 21st century. The line “Bound by Love’s Strong Cord” was composed in 1886 by Russell Carter from his hymn, “Standing on the Promises.” He was an instructor at a military academy. Instilled within the soldier’s mind is the mentality of mutuality and dependence. No one thrives independently and in isolation. Russell Carter’s exposure to military training brought to mind our supreme reliance on binding ourselves to Christ. We do not travel through this world alone. Any chance we have to survive and thrive requires the confidence to walk through life with one who is qualified and competent to lead us where we need to go. A strong, loving cord binds us. The image of love’s cord assures us that Jesus will never leave us, forsake us, or abandon us.
Though this hymn captures the thought, it too is not unique. Rewind to Jeremiah 13:11. God gives the people this picture of God binding Himself to the people with a strong cord. God desired to love the people with an unbreakable connection. They were assured that through dependence on God’s expectations, they would align themselves with a leader who would see them through to completion. It was the strongest guarantee God could provide that they would never be steered in the wrong direction. When we arrive at the New Testament, how does Jesus describe relationships? He describes it with love’s strong cord. The invitation is for His people to take upon them a loving yoke whereby Jesus is given the authority to accompany us along life’s way. We are bound to Him so that where He goes, we go. It’s not a matter of simply following Jesus as He stays ahead of us, and we’re staggering along, attempting to remain close. For Jesus, He desires that we bind ourselves inseparably with Him. Throughout Scripture, there are warnings given about grieving the Spirit. Whenever we attempt to conduct our lives as if we are independent and have a right to operate by self-preference, love’s strong cord reminds us that Jesus is in control. We are not independent but dependent.
Peace does not come by attempting to lead a no-strings-attached life. The modern world would have us believe the best way to live is to cast off whatever constrains us. No one should bind us to anything. To live this way is to lead a life without covenant. It’s to operate as if we never make promises or vows to anyone. Nothing binds us or constrains us. How is such a mentality associated with love, much less God’s love? God has no intention of loving us by casting off all that binds. This isn’t asking for more, but much less. Peace does not come from leading an unattached life. Traveling as if we’re our own master and captain of our destiny is not where serenity of heart and mind emerges. Jesus combined peace of mind with tying ourselves to Him with His strong cord. The blessing of restfulness doesn’t come to those living as mavericks. Restfulness results from knowing we are bound to a friend who refuses to let us go. It is not us pulling Jesus along, but we are walking in alignment with Him. Jesus said we would love Him when we obey Him. As we stay in step with Jesus, we are assured He leads us to a place where His promises are fulfilled. Jesus said it’s His desire to lead us to the place where our joy is made complete. Put on His strong cord of love, and He will give us rest. His peace comes no other way.