Today is my 18th Wedding Anniversary! Being completely immature and a bit crazy when we first fell in love, we had our wedding date planned from the time we had been dating for two weeks! For many reasons, which I will not go into here, we were not at all well-suited to each other and we had no business dating, let alone getting married. Sometimes, however, there is no talking sense or right and wrong to couples in love, especially immature couples!
I love the perspective that 18 years of marriage brings me. It gives me a bird’s eye view of God’s miraculous work in my life in a very real way. Instead of letting us suffer the full consequences of sinful decisions, as He had every right to do, God graciously rescued us. He has given us a fulfilling, loving and faithful relationship and blessed us with the miracle of six wonderful children. It boggles my mind that God would allow me, someone with a history of making very big bad decisions, have six of His precious children to care for. (WHAT is He thinking?)
Slowly, through all the hills (some really high ones) and the valleys (some very deep ones) of marriage, God is teaching Steve and I to die to ourselves in order to become more like Him. This weekend, we attended a conference where the speaker spoke about this verse:
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Mark 8:34
In so many areas of our life, we are able to avoid taking up our cross and dying to ourselves. When things get rough at work, we can go home that night and avoid the situation. When things are difficult at church, we can just find another church. When things are hard at school, we can move onto another classroom. When a friend disappoints us, we can stop calling. If we don’t like our neighbours, we can move away. Opportunities to hide and avoid abound in our modern lives. But, there is no escaping from the cross in our family.
At the conference, we heard that God uses all kinds of people and situations in our life to ‘crucify us’, so that as we die to ourselves – or decrease – Jesus will increase. We become like Him slowly, little bits at a time. Like it or not, our spouses are used by God to ‘crucify us’ and we are used by God to ‘crucify them’! God has chosen our spouses to help us clearly face head-on the very sharp edges on ourselves that He longs to smooth away in order to make us more like Him and to draw us close to Himself. When we understand this concept and co-operate with what He is trying to do, we begin to experience the true joy of not only a marriage of two people, but a marriage of three.
When I think of how far Steve and I have come in the past 18 years, I am so excited about the next 18 years. There are opportunities each and every minute in my home to deny myself, take up my cross and follow Him. I am willing, Lord!