Pastor Mark here. It’s a big week at our house with the 16th birthday of our oldest son Zac, and the 23rd anniversary of our wedding. For a fun change of pace, this week’s newsletter is from my wife Grace.
Happy 23rd Anniversary!
August 15, 1992 was the beginning of our new life together! We started dating at age 17 in high school, were married at age 21, and had no idea the journey God had for us. We made plans, but God redirected us many times…and we are still together trusting Him and learning how to love and serve each other 23 years later! We’ve seen God’s faithfulness in the “for better or for worse, richer or poorer, sickness or health, joy or sorrow.”
Looking back, at age 21 we were so young yet didn’t think we were. We finished our final year of college and started the adventure of ministry that God had clearly called us on. We were happily dirt poor and creative in our dates. We loved spending time together talking, laughing and growing in our walk with Jesus. Life started to feel more serious as we started a church and got “real” jobs, instead of summer hotel jobs. It was easy to let life’s busyness get in the way of building our friendship and marriage, and feel good about getting our to do list accomplished. The Enemy likes to keep us so busy with life that we can miss the spouse in front of us that is supposed to be priority. We both caused hurt in this area to each other, but God was so gracious to teach us and grow us as we repented and forgave.
In the last year or so, our friendship has grown even more as we have walked through a “valley”. When I’ve felt down, overwhelmed, or discouraged God has shown Mark how to love me through to the other side, and vice versa. A helpful tip from a recent book I’ve read (Living Right Side Up by Debbie Morris and friends pg 115) said to “pause, ponder, and pray” instead of reacting from emotion, which is helpful in all relationships. When we are joy-filled, we get to laugh and thank the Lord for all He has done and taught us in our lives: for His provision, for our children, for the wonderful people we have been able to serve, for guiding us into the next season clearly, for protection, for the support of family and friends, and for never leaving us or forsaking us!
I love that God has given me a faithful husband to walk this journey of life with, in all it’s twists and turns, highs and lows, triumphs and trials. The longer we are married, the more work we put into our relationship, the more enjoyment we have. When we committed to marriage we said there wouldn’t be a back door, and by God’s sweet grace we have grown closer to Him and one another.
These are some practical habits that I have learned along the way:
- Praying daily (and throughout the day) for dependence rather than independence. Let’s not deceive ourselves that we can go about our day without God. Proverbs 3:5-6 tell us to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” Submission of our hearts to God and His Word leads to submission of our actions.
- Praying daily for wisdom. Any right decision we make is because the Holy Spirit prompts us to make it. God wants us to ask Him for guidance in everything and He promises to give it in James 1:5 when He says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting…”
- Praying daily for strength. The Proverbs 31 woman “dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong” and is even able to “laugh at the time to come” (v. 17 and 25). Strength is so evident that it is like an outfit to her; one that she adorns as she enjoys the roles God has given her. Stress and anxiety make us weary, so we need new strength every day to face responsibilities and trials. Our mindset needs to be that dependence on Him results in emotional, physical, and spiritual strength in our life.
- Praying daily for a repentant heart. We need to pause and examine the ways we sin, especially habitual sin. “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Mt. 3:8) or else we stay in bondage and blindness to our sin. There is always something to repent of, and when we do it allows us to walk in the light and have a clearer picture of how to live.
- Praying through scripture. I like to either pick a Christian book to read and meditate on, or look at the verse for the day on the Bible app and pray for understanding in my own life. Psalm 119:114 assures us, “You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.” And encourages us in Psalm 119:11 “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” God continues to teach me to enjoy His Word when I am willing to read it.
For the married women, your marriage is different from mine, your husband is different than mine, your circumstances are different than mine, your journey is different than mine, but we all can follow the same amazing God to learn and grow into the women He wants us to be with the marriages He wants us to have. Though I sometimes wish learning was easier, I look back and am thankful for what God has taught me along the way. I pray that each of us women who are married or will marry can have a friendship and marriage that is growing and joyful walking with Jesus together.
Ecclesiastes Part 2
Lastly, Today Ecclesiastes called “Meaningless Life? part 2, Stuffing the Pita of Life: Ecclesiastes 1:12-18, is available. My hope is to spend some months taking a road trip, verse by verse, together through this winding and confusing Book. This will include an informal audio podcast, blog based Bible commentary, and small group questions.
Pastor Mark Driscoll