In June I was struck by a text message sent to me by my wife, Kathy. I saved the text for this week’s devotion. On Monday, June 24, I was driving to Sterling, making many stops, taking care of errands along the way, as I traveled south to work on our cabin. While in Anchorage I looked at my phone and Kathy had texted me from work. The text log says this message was sent to me at 7:51 a.m., Monday, June 24. Here are the words of Kathy’s text. “I hope you have some time to relax. Please don’t use your phone while you’re driving. It’s your day OFF. Be careful. Electricity and gas. I want you to come back in one piece. I Love you!”
Maybe you can hear or sense the years of experience and knowledge from our marriage through this text message. I have always taken my calling as a pastor seriously, but have probably worked too hard at times. Do you hear Kathy taking care of me and wanting me to rest? While I don’t text while driving, I do use my Bluetooth and talk while on the road. Our administrative assistant at St. John, Judy Stahancyk, calls it my “Spock – Rock.” Kathy has a different idea of being careful with a phone while driving. Do you hear her concern about my safety? Finally, my reputation as a handyman is legendary, in that I have made many laughable mistakes over the years in my attempts to fix things around the house. Kathy will tell you that my handyman skills are getting better. However, I was on the way to the Kenai to get propane and electric connected to the cabin. (I did call professionals in to do that work for me.) Do you hear Kathy’s concern, and her warning about dealing with dangerous power sources?
But, when I saw this text message what struck me at that moment was just how much my wife of over 40 cares for me. Kathy knows my strengths. But, she also knows very well my many areas of weakness. Yet, Kathy accepts me for who I am and continues to love me. In fact, Tuesday, August 20, is our 42nd wedding anniversary. This text message from Kathy was a loud message from her that our love continues and has grown even stronger, much stronger, over the years.
Hollywood and the other media of today have a different idea of the love between a man and a woman. In Hollywood, love is always exciting, between extremely attractive people. In Hollywood, love almost always includes sex outside of marriage, often without commitment, and without God. But, as we watch marriages of Hollywood celebrities make the headlines, both in the coming together and the explosive splitting apart, the Hollywood dream shows itself to be shallow and short-lived.
A person might understandably expect that after 42 years of marriage a husband and wife might have become accustomed to one another, and that love may have cooled. But, as a pastor who performs marriages, and who also visits those in their last days and months of life, I can attest to you that love grows deeper over the years. I’m convinced that God’s intent is for a husband and wife to support each other in faith and in love through the joys and challenges of life, and then, if grace allows, to share their last years together remembering their lives and love together. I am thankful that in our marriage, I see that plan of God at work.
Proverbs 31 contains God’s wisdom spoken by King Lemuel. In Proverbs 31:10-31 Lemuel writes about the blessing of a good wife. This section begins in verse 10 with the following assertion,“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” Lemuel’s God-given wisdom is then summarized in verse 30. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”
Lemuel’s wisdom is different from the ideas of Hollywood. The Lord works through Lemuel to instruct God’s children to look for a spouse of “noble character,” who “fears the Lord.” I am a deeply, and undeservedly blessed man! Significantly, Scripture also compares God’s love for His church through Jesus to the love intended in marriage. St. Paul writes in Epheians 5, “This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” (Ephesians 5:32-33) If the love of a husband and wife grows deeper, how much greater is the love of God for His people. Well, the Father did send His only Son to save us! Such sacrifice also reflects God’s plan for husbands and wives.
Some of you know that I retire as full time pastor of St. John at the end of this month, and that I am struggling deeply with this decision. Perhaps my one guiding light in this new direction is that my wife of 42 years loves me deeply, in a way I do not deserve. Kathy wants to spend time with her husband. What a blessing that after 42 years of marriage my wife wants to spend time with me! I can surely say of Kathy, what Lemuel wrote in Proverbs 31. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”