Love for a lifetime...
"May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and I."
My fingers have been quiet these last 2 weeks. I've been working on enjoying the break in the chemo treatments. It's nice to feel a little better (besides some pain in my side that I try to ignore, hoping it's not the cancer growing back too quickly.)
After meeting with a cancer specialist yesterday, and being reminded of the rarity, aggressiveness and lethal-nature of my form of cancer, my thoughts have turned a lot to my bride.
God has given us something special. I couldn't say it was love at first sight... more of "boy she's cute" at first sight. However, it's clear our meeting was a God thing.
It was the first time we met to talk where I was truly smitten. We met at a local Village Inn (like a Denny's... not a hotel... get your mind out of the gutter... sheesh!) We talked for 2 hours and drank only water. Who could waste time eat at such a moment!?!??
I had never met anyone so beautiful. And, although her physical attractiveness has always been profound, it wasn't what made her so intoxicatingly beautiful.
She radiated Christ. (I know... I've written on this before... the Bible emphasizes things by repeating them, so I will too... hee-hee) Through Jesus' loving work on the cross and the message of the Gospel, I had been taught to love Jesus, and subsequently drawn to Him. Therefore, since Christ was aggressively manifested in this gorgeous angel, it was her or a monastery. Like, seriously.
Our courtship had many special moments as we watched God put the pieces in line to make us one. We waited. We prayed. We were excited. There was the one night where we slow-danced to "I Love the Way You Love Me" 30 times at the Air Force Academy overlook. We waited, but if you held a wet match between us as we danced, it would have been incinerated. Good times. (All PG)
Our marriage has been special. While there are times where I've tried hard to create a fissure, there has always been that thing that God teaches us about love in 1 John 3:16... that it's a choice. And, I must admit, it absolutely torments me when the relationship isn't right. It's agony until He leads me to repent. I must have oneness with her. (Get your mind out of the gutter.) She's that precious of a woman to know.
That's what makes my probable future so hard. If there's a woman on the planet who doesn't deserve to to have to endure this pain, it's her. I confess in my self-blame, I feel so guilty that I can't protect her from this it. A more beautiful woman, I've never met. Christ is that radiant in her.
However, it's that same Christ that makes her so likely to endure if I do pass. As beautiful as she is, she is even more strong.
Before we met, God brought her to the point where only Christ could be her lasting possession and chief in her heart's affections. Her heart was ultimately guarded for Him. I've seen that conviction so much over the last 21 years, especially during my bozo moments. I have watched her be hurt... BUT, she turns to her First Love. Talk about shaming! j/k It's the Gospel that has kept us together... Knowing that God has forgiven us of so much on the cross has made the petty conflicts short-lived. His grace to us compels us to ultimate grace to each other.
Therefore, I see how Christ has persevered in our lives, particularly in my wife. However, I'm deeply grieved when He doesn't remain the chief desire in other Christian's marriages... especially the Christian ones that end in divorce. I'm not judging... I'm grieved.
I'm probably dying, and statistically not too far into the future. It's tragic to think this beautiful thing could end due to my body self-destructing. However, even more tragic is the marital suicide that is too common among Christians. It's a greater tragedy to see the product of miss-placed passions, unforgiveness, bitterness and rampant selfishness.
"This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him." Deuteronomy 30:19-20.
I want to keep my marriage. I want to choose life, but I likely won't have that option. There have been so many times where my bride and I have shared about the future and what we wanted to do later in life. The grief of their probable loss is a knife in the heart.
You have the option to choose life. If you're struggling in your marriage, I'm going to ask a favor for what God has the right to demand: keep the blessing you have. The person you've married is precious in God's sight. If they truly know Christ, you can know they are precious to God as He gave eternity's best, His only begotten, for them. If the Eternal One has shown love so profoundly, then you can choose love by His strength in you. Therefore, you can forgive or repent of whatever it is that is currently or will affect your marriage in the future.
And, of little consequence in comparison, I ask you keep that what I likely won't get to keep.
God has reassured me on several occasions that my wife will be fine. However, the probable loss against my will is more painful than anything I've known in life. It's that conviction from Scripture that led my wife and I to put the words of Ruth into our vows from the beginning of this blog. We fear what sin could do to our marriage. Therefore, we've asked for the most tenacious discipline when we threaten a fracturing of God's union.
You, too, have the chance to preserve your marriage. And, you have the opportunity to help others preserve theirs. We've grown too accepting of the marital meat wagon. If we will live the Gospel to each other, we will be a long way along the path of the conforming to Christ that God ordains.