Thursday, June 13, 2013

Twenty-One Years... And Counting

דודי לי ואני לו
"My beloved is mine, and I am his"

It has been so long since I've posted here that I've had a hard time figuring out where to start again. Our 21st anniversary seems like the perfect place to begin! I feel like we've lived two lifetimes in the past two decades, and it has been a grand adventure!

I am astounded at God's faithfulness to our family over the years, and so grateful. I keep a photo of Craig in my Bible as a bookmark for Isaiah 51:2, which says,

"... look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many." (emphasis mine)

I keep his photo near this verse as a reminder to live with a generational point of view. Back in January 1988 when we first ever laid eyes on one another, we couldn't have imagined that the Lord would extend our line fivefold (although Craig says that he knew then that he'd one day marry me).

God called Craig long ago to be the leader that he is today, and from him He has made "many".

As a "daughter of Sarah" (ref. I Peter 3:6), I am called to follow, compliment, and support Craig in his calling. Since my nine-month absence from blogging, our family is facing yet another move - this time to South Africa. Many people have asked me, "So, are you OK with this?" I suppose that the question is a natural one, especially in our culture that abhors the thought of having a man make a major decision without consulting his wife first. Craig values my input and always includes me in the decision-making process; but ultimately he is responsible to answer God's call boldly, however that may look, and I am to follow peacefully, trusting that God's purpose and will for our family is perfect, eternal, and unable to be thwarted by a "bad" or "scary" decision.

Fortunately, this is a very exciting move for our family; but as I've pondered the many questions from others, I've been reminded that when God called Abram to leave his country (Genesis 12:1-5), Abram didn't consult Sarai to weigh whether she felt comfortable with God's command. He obeyed. She followed. The Word of God makes no reference to her having wrestled with that decision or suffering depression or anxiety over the drastic change or resentment over Abram's decision to obey unquestioningly.

I haven't always taken this view. As starry-eyed as I was at the age of 19 when we were first married, I was resistant to Craig's role as spiritual leader of our home. The Lord is so gracious and merciful to teach me through His Word, mentors, and faithful authors through the years - as well as various trials - gently guiding me into an understanding of His design for marriage that is entirely opposite the popular views of our culture.

Occasionally, I will receive questions from younger women asking marital advice. In these cases, I try to think not only of what the Lord is teaching me, but I also consider what I might say to my own daughters. Any advice that I would want my daughters to embrace must have its basis in the eternal, unchanging Word of God. With this in mind, I prayerfully consider how best to answer a friend in a way that will honor God and fall in line with the teaching of His Word.

Recently, I received an unexpected message from a young lady who will be married in the fall. I was humbled that she would ask me, as I have not known her long. I took this as God's assignment and weighed my response for a while before offering counsel. If you don't mind, I'd like to share what God put on my heart concerning this future bride's question, without divulging her identity. Feel free to fill in the blank with Caelyn, Morgan, or Gabriela, as I would say the same to them:

I'll start with your last message in which you asked, "What is the hardest part about transitioning from being engaged to being married?"
I've thought about this for several days, not wanting to be hasty or inaccurate in my response. I'm sure that others would have different answers to this question, but I would say that the hardest transition for a new bride is to go from seeing her new husband as her peer to seeing him as her leader.
This was hard for me because 1. I was a new believer & didn't have much of an understanding of Scripture, 2. I was a staunch feminist & an absolute rebel, and 3. We were both kids, and I saw myself as more mature & responsible in those days. (Ha!)
After the excitement of planning and then the actual wedding and honeymoon, it can be somewhat anti-climactic and disillusioning to settle into your life together with the mundane soon outweighing the adventures. This is where the reality sinks in and sanctification begins.
I assume that your groom-to-be is a believer, and I pray that he understands the immense responsibility of his God-given role as spiritual leader & provider. You, ______, have the tremendous privilege of building him up in this role as you seek The Lord daily, praying for your man, creating a haven for him in your home together, committing every grievance & trial to The Lord, never ever sharing negative details about his flaws to those outside your home.
Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 3, Proverbs 31, and Titus 2 have lots to say about your role as wife and how best to help equip your husband to freely walk in the path God has marked out for him. He should trust that you "have his back".
Marriage is a wonderful gift and is meant to symbolize the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church. It is hard work, though, and very painful at times. Those closest to us have the greatest capacity to wound us, and vice versa. We have to be willing to be vulnerable and risk heartache if we want to grow and glorify God. His Word says that He is close to the broken-hearted, will not reject a broken and contrite heart, cares for us, and is familiar with our suffering. 1 Peter is a great book to study during times when you feel that things aren't going the way you'd like in your marriage. It was transformational for me at a time when I thought it was all falling apart. God is faithful!!
This morning as I was praying about responding to you, I got a picture in my mind of marriage hanging by a thread, with the threat of many blades from all directions. This seems scary, but if God is the Guardian of your marriage, no man can destroy it!!
Psalm 127:1 says, "Unless The Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless The Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain." This applies to the delicate "thread". If you depend on romance, finances, "peace", agreement, happiness, satisfaction, or any other element to keep your marriage strong, it will be vulnerable to the "blades" of the flesh, the enemy, and the world. If Christ is your ALL, He will be faithful to make your marriage relationship a beautiful vessel of His glory.
I hope that this helps and doesn't cause discouragement. Marriage is a beautiful and desirable thing, not highly valued by the world. Praise God for bringing you together, and trust Him to keep you together! I rejoice with you! Please keep in touch and feel free to ask any and all questions that come to mind. With God's help, I will be delighted to be a help to you. Pray also for me that I will honor The Lord in my marriage and as a mother, and in all things as Christ's ambassador.

It's impossible to summarize 21 years of marriage lessons in one blog post. I have never regretted marrying Craig and marrying young. God is indeed faithful to His covenant, and by His Spirit He keeps us. By His enabling I hope to continue to be my husband's crown, for the glory of God, until He calls us to our eternal home with Him to worship around His throne!

Happy Anniversary, Babe. I'd do it all again.