Mindy and I will be married for five years on September 1st. Every year I like to make a list describing what has happened to us in five years. It would look something like this.
In five years we have been called to five churches between teaching and preaching; we have lived in two apartments and one house in two states; we have lived with our parents three separate times; we have had three cars, and we have three wonderful kids.
The reason I love to do this is because it reminds me of what God has done in our lives in the past five years. There is no way I would have expected to see such a list just five years after we were married. I am asking for Him to slow things down, but beyond all this external stuff is the internal stuff. God has done so much to change Mindy and me from where we started.
During my history of dating, I was addicted to love. I was going to make sure divorce never happened to me. I had fallen hopelessly in love several times--every time believing that particular girl was the one, only to get my heart broken time and time again. I look back to the time when people had to listen to my complaints about being heart broken and hoping for the arrival of the right girl. Regardless, there was something about that feeling that was overwhelming--when you fall in love and just want to be with that person every moment.
To some of you who have celebrated many anniversaries, it may seem like a long time ago--so much stuff happens in life that separates you from the first time you met your spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend.
Mindy and I were set up on a blind date that I really expected to tank. I even had a back-up plan of eating ice cream with old college friends. That moment God brought the love of my life into my life.
Mindy loves to watch those bride shows on TV. You know--vote on the cooler wedding. Seriously I love the memories of our own wedding, and don’t want to watch a show every weekend with brides critiquing each other while trying to win a honeymoon. But now and then she begs me to watch with her, and sometimes I submit. Oh, the part of marriage we never talk about! Movies and TV illustrate all the great stuff that you will fall in love forever, but they never credit God for His plan of bringing two broken people together and the challenges in that.
Oh, all right, before I headed to my sister’s wedding on July 8th, I talked about the same text and had something to say about marriage. But I really didn’t get to preach on the hard knocks involved in the submission of love. This week in the church year calendar, that Ephesians text comes up. With the majority of people celebrating anniversaries during the summer, it seemed like a good topic before the end of the summer season.
Plus it is not too far off from following Jesus. When we first see Jesus, we become aware of all of His wonderful gifts. We see how He offers forgiveness for the sin that plagues our lives. We see the peace He gives us. We see how He is love.
We realize what it means to submit to Jesus and follow Him. It means we are often criticized by others when we make mistakes (or what they perceive to be mistakes). We hear the hurtful words of those who don’t share our beliefs. We feel the pressure to follow God’s commandments, and often beat ourselves up when we make mistakes. We look at an imperfect world with all the things we must avoid. We become aware of all the places where we could share the message of Christ’s deep love for us, His submission to death. This message creates a desire to follow Him, but sin makes it so hard. God never quits refining us. No one is done.
But it is….
All worth it!! Come hear about it this weekend. We will talk about marriage, but even more, about the deep love of Jesus and how it is something we can never get enough of, and how it compels us to respond and share this wonderful message.