I’m still in a bit of an afterglow of our 50th anniversary celebration weekend. It has been wonderful as we have been reminiscing over the many blessings and gifts GOD has given us over the years.
As I read through the many cards that came through, I was reminded of the following:
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,
always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,
because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
And I am sure of this,
that he who began a good work in you
will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
As I read the many kind notes to us as a couple and as individuals, I realized that GOD has been working in us something that I don’t see often. I read those notes and wondered, “How did they see that, particularly during those years?” I knew what I was like then. I had no idea those good things showed.
Last Fall and this Fall, we have been doing 2 studies by a woman named Julie Sparkman from Birmingham, AL. She is a Christian counselor, but is very Biblical as well! The study last year was entitled IdolAddiction. This year’s study is Unhitching from the Crazy Train: Finding Rest in a World You Can’t Control. They are both video studies with accompanying workbooks, but the latter also has a book written with most the content and questions there as well.
The first study goes into more detail re what happens when we become a child of GOD in terms of our adoption, and the difference between our old nature that is sinful and twisted to the core. And our new nature as children of GOD that is brand new in terms of desires as those who are in Christ. This new nature is ours at salvation in Christ but we don’t always feel it or experience it. We still sin. But GOD is making our real life desires and actions more congruent with our new nature as part of the work He is doing in us.
This second study is reviewing that of course, and is basically a study of Matthew 11:28-30. How do we learn to give GOD the yoke we keep trying to carry alone and allow Him to carry that burden we have tried to carry, of doing life on our own? This is all background for the next part of what I want to say.
Hearing that something we did in our life, either together as a couple or individually, was encouraging to someone. GOD has been working in us…and it shows!
So as I enjoyed our weekend and read the kind words. I realized that GOD has been working in me over the years. I am too close to the project of what He is doing. I know what goes on inside of me. I see all the mess when construction is going on. Evidently, they see some of the masterpiece that GOD is making that I don’t see. I’m very thankful for that!I realized that GOD has been working in me over the years. I am too close to the project of what He is doing. Evidently, they see some of the masterpiece that GOD is making that I don't see. I'm very thankful for that! Click To Tweet
It has worked that way in our marriage. They have seen a couple who aren’t perfect. It is obvious for sure! The best advice we were given regarding marriage was to strive for oneness. (cf. Genesis 2:24) No, not that one of you is supposed to just disappear. We are both strong willed enough that this is not a danger. (For some it might be, that is why I mention it.) Is my action one that will promote oneness in our marriage or hinder it? This is a helpful guideline when it comes to things that may not be moral issues.
But GOD has been knitting us together over the past 50 years. No, we aren’t one yet, but we’re more one than we once were. We don’t finish each other’s sentences. Ron would consider that the closest thing to hell-on-earth so I have to be careful about it. But we try to treat each other with the respect, the kindness, the politeness, and honor that is called for.
When we are angry or need to ask for forgiveness, we try not to let it sit inside us and simmer, but rather deal with it sooner rather than later. With age, we have learned how important it is to take care of those issues quickly so our insides don’t rot. We don’t want resentment to sit there and stew!
But our marriage isn’t perfect just as yours isn’t. We mess up all the time and we need to remember with joy and humility, the grace that GOD showed us as we forgive each other and those around us. We are weak and deeply flawed.
We are new creatures in Christ. We have new natures with new desires from what we were born with. We often forget about that!
But we are also alive in Christ! We have a new nature that has been given to us. GOD is growing us into it and reforming all of our lives because of it. That’s why we need the Body of Christ to be functioning around us. We need them to be encouraging us when they see the encouraging signs of growth in our new nature. It’s easy (and sometimes necessary) to point out our sin and failure.
Generally, people tend to be much more aware of their sin and failure. There are exceptions, but this is generally true. However, we are much less likely to make a point of telling them when we are encouraged by watching their patience with their children in specific situations, the care for an ailing loved one, their kindness offered to a newcomer, the kind words offered to us on a bad day, etc.
Sometimes, hearing from someone that they are noticing GOD’s work in your life for good, can be incredibly hopeful and encouraging. Just when you wonder if you will ever look like or behave like a decent Christian, someone else can pass on kind words like that in writing or in person, and they can make your day.
That gives you an idea what our weekend was like…in spades. Thank you so much! To those who wrote and to the Holy Spirit who has worked in us something that has ministered to others. We are grateful!
If you haven’t made the time to write a note to someone recently to encourage them for what you see GOD doing in their life, this would be a good time to do it. Yes, you could also tell them in person. The nice thing about a note is that they can pull it out to read it over and over again. It’s a gift that keeps giving.