Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Our Fairy Tale

Today's story is a fairy tale. Not one of those fairy tales filled with talking animals, singing godmothers with magic wands, & "happily ever after" endings - although I have to say that I do enjoy those. This is more of a modern fairy tale that includes an online dating service, emails, & cell phones. But just like the old-fashioned kind, it, too, has romance & sheer joy. It, too, leads the man & woman through difficult trials. But this fairy tale wasn't orchestrated by a sweet, though absentminded, fairy godmother. No, this fairy tale is orchestrated by God.

Every story has a beginning. Fairy tales typically begin with the famous words "once upon a time" & plop you right down in the middle of someone's life. This one, however, has no real beginning. Because God has no beginning. And before time began, before the world was created by Him, He planned this story. He planned for the man & woman to meet, fall in love, & get married. But it doesn't start with them, not really. In order for these things to come about, He had to plan for their parents, their grandparents, their great-grandparents, & so-on & so-forth - to meet, fall in love, & get married. Take just a moment & think about all of the little details that had to line up just so in order for these two people to even be born, let alone meet & fall in love! It boggles the mind! But, of course, that's why He's God & we're not.

As creatures, our lives are full of beginnings & endings, though, so this story has to start somewhere. So. . .Once upon a time, there was a young woman who wanted to be married. She had grown up loving the Disney fairy tales where some handsome young prince sweeps the beautiful princess off her feet & carries her away from all of her troubles to live happily ever after. As she got older, she graduated from these cutesy stories to more grown-up "chick flicks" where, again, some handsome fella & beautiful girl overcome some sort of difficulty & end up falling in love & living happily ever after. These stories always filled her with longing & a question of whether anyone would ever love her that way. Eventually, she realized that the answer was "no". No man would ever love her like that for one main reason - it wasn't real. She finally understood that what she was in love with was the idea of love, but she had no knowledge of what real love was like. She aimed to find out, though, & began reading books that would help her understand how to really love. (She highly recommends the Bible for this.) Even so, even though she wanted to marry & even prayed for the man whom God might bring to her, she finally came to have faith that if God allowed her to remain single, she had Him & He was enough.

Meanwhile, in a land somewhat far away, there was a young man who dreamed of falling in love & getting married as well. He, like her, watched as those around him married & began families. He wanted this for himself, but was beginning to believe that it would never happen. He loved to spend time with his sister & her family, especially his nieces & nephew. Few things - if any - made him happier than playing with & doting on them. This made him want to be a husband & father even more. So, when his sister & brother-in-law (who also wanted him happily married) suggested that he join eHarmony, he hesitantly agreed. Little did he know that God was working out His plan & his life would soon be forever changed.

At about this time, our young lady was nearing the end of her own eHarmony subscription & was debating about whether to continue after having sifted through several self-described "godly" men who were somewhat lacking. Then, one day in early February, she was matched with this new fella. His picture showed him with his two nieces, which was promising. They flew through the communication process & graduated to private emails very quickly. Then came his first phone call to her - on Valentine's Day. In only a couple of weeks, she knew that she wanted to marry him. Her mother's reaction to this news was understandably cautionary: "You need to slow down." Her young niece showed her displeasure by covering her ears with her hands, shaking her head back & forth, & repeatedly declaring, "I don't wanna talk about it!" Even so, everything was falling into place just as God had planned. They knew the first day they met in person that their feelings were mutual & he asked her parents' permission to marry her. After having met him, they heartily agreed - complete with a "bear hug" from her dad & tears from her mom. A mere three & a half months later, she walked barefoot down the aisle to meet her groom in a beautifully simple ceremony in her parents' backyard.

Three years ago today, I married the man of my dreams & prayers. God has blessed me richly with a godly man who leads our family in pursuing the Lover of our souls. We have struggles just like any other couple; no marriage is perfect because every marriage is between two sinners. Yet, we have a beautiful & joyful marriage because Christ is our foundation. We both look to Him to sanctify us. I've learned that marriage is work, but not because I'm working to change my husband. Marriage is work because I'm working to change myself. Of course, I can't speak for Michael, but for me, I constantly need God's help to hold my tongue, to be submissive, to be slow to anger, to be selfless, & to forgive. And then, when I blow it, I run to Him for forgiveness & restoration, which He freely gives. This is what makes a marriage that is refined - rather than consumed - in the fires of life. God planned this marriage. God brought this marriage into being. God is transforming this marriage day by day so that we bring Him glory through it. And that is the worthy goal of every Christian marriage!

Happy Anniversary, my darling! I am honored to be your wife, & I love you more than words can say!

*Our most gracious heavenly Father, thank You for our marriage. Thank You for blessing me with Michael. He is a godly example to me, & I love him dearly. Please help me to be a godly wife to him - to be loving, kind, humble, submissive, patient, & selfless - to be his helpmeet as You've created me to be. Please give him the wisdom & strength to lead our family in righteousness. Please forgive us both - & please help us to forgive each other - when we fail. Help us to love each other more every day, but protect us from making each other & our love into idols. Help us to love You supremely so that we can love each other better. Please use us & our marriage to point to Christ & the church & to glorify You. In Christ's holy name I pray, Amen.