How amazing that God gives many of us the opportunity, during our short time on Earth, to get extremely close to another human being in the context of a lifetime covenant marriage! Such a relationship is set apart for deep intimacy in every area—physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. The problem comes when we think that God gave us the institution of marriage to make us happy. The truth? God knows how very selfish we all are, and marriage is his best tool for revealing our basic selfishness. God doesn’t give us marriage to make us happy, he uses it to make us holy! God is in the business of perfecting our character and making us ready for eternity in heaven with him.
My grandmother always used to tell me, “You’d better look your best—you never know when you are going to meet your future wife.” And she was right, on August 24, 1982—the first day I laid eyes on Julie, the woman who would become my life partner, I was walking down the sidewalk with one of my seminary friends when Julie and I crossed paths. When she passed by, I turned around to watch her walk away, exclaiming to my friend, “Who was that?” I asked her out on a date later that day, and within three days, I knew I wanted to marry her. We dated by telephone for one month while she was back home in Canada, and the very next time I saw her in person, I asked her to marry me. She replied, “What took you so long?” We were married on December 4th that same year. Only three months and nine days after I first saw Julie, I stood in front of over two hundred people in a church in Toronto, Ontario and said “I do!” I don’t hold this up as a model I think others should follow—but I do hold it up as a testimony of God’s grace in giving me the gift of an awesome wife.
I don’t believe each person has one perfect match or soul mate on the entire planet whom he or she must find, as if searching for a needle in a haystack. I do believe God can guide people together, and I believe He delights in giving his children good gifts. I believe Julie was a direct gift from God to me in 1982—and yet I must confess that I have taken this gift for granted many times during our thirty-five years of marriage. I remember the first time I thought I might lose Julie. During our first year as missionaries in the DR Congo, she was pregnant, but before we could announce our pregnancy, Julie miscarried. I will never forget her urgent cry for help from the bathroom in the middle of the night. She wouldn’t stop bleeding, and I raced across town to wake up Juanita, our missionary nurse, praying urgently all the way there and back—pleading and bargaining with God, terrified of losing my precious wife. I wonder why we often fail to see how much someone means to us until we nearly lose him or her?
REFLECTIONS: Can you think of ways you take your spouse (or other loved ones) for granted? When was the last time you thanked God for the gracious gift he has given you in your spouse? When was the last time you told your spouse that you consider them a gift of God to you? Have you ever imagined life without your spouse as a wake-up call to how much they mean to you?
He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.