My grandfather stood before John and me the night he married us and spoke of the college degrees we had just earned. While they were good accomplishments, he told us to get ready because we were about to enter the “University of Hard Knocks”, and it would be best, rewarding, and rightly lived staying together.
Surely, these are some of the days to which he was referring.
John and I are living hard days, not because we did anything wrong even though we’ve lived those times together too. The time is hard because of truth, that “In this world you will have trouble.” Because we are one, we are in the same boat.
In the beginning of this particular ride, both of us rose to the task, each grabbing “an oar” to do the next thing we knew. We were strong, believed faith journeys were worth the fight, and pushed off from the bank of one situation to be led to shores of another. We also didn’t think this journey would be this long. Currently we are midway across “this pond”. What we left is far behind us now, but we still can’t see the shores of what is ahead. Ahh yes……the blessed waiting phase.
We are still paddling, sometimes with the vigor we had in the beginning; sometimes not. Sometimes John has to paddle harder because he can see my arms are weary. Sometimes he doesn’t even have to look to see how I am, he can just feel it as our boat tries to move along, and he does what is needed to keep us on track. At other times, those roles are reversed. Our situation is uncomfortable, and everyday I pray for its end.
The other day I had lunch with a friend and she spoke of a marriage that was ending. She said the lady “wasn’t willing to do the hard things to get to the really good stuff”, and my friend rolled her eyes and said it in such a tone as to say, “Is that not crazy? What a waste! She missed out.” My friend said this not because she doesn’t understand hard times, for she certainly does, but more importantly she also knows the joy on the other side.
Our culture has spoken a lie that a spouse is only to be there to provide a sweet life and if it doesn’t look sweet, then bail! It is an easy lie because marriage is hard; it just is. The evil one is prowling to “steal, kill, and destroy”, and this culture lie has stolen many opportunities for people to be shaped into gold and enjoy rewards their minds and hearts cannot imagine.
My marriage to John is rich, but not because we’ve always had it easy. What character does the easy life produce?! It has been because we have had seasons that haven’t gone our way, they’ve been challenging, have emptied us out of our own agendas, and led us to lean harder on the only Rock that is true: The Lord. We have stories together, and they are exciting because they also involve the element of conflict, and don’t the best stories always have conflict? We also have joy and a lot of it. What would become of our treasure of joy if a conflict was allowed to win. Are we willing to throw that overboard too?!
So we paddle on and the ripples in the water could have names: perseverance, patience, grace, mercy, commitment. God is ultimately the one pushing our boat along, but He needs to change us, refine us, teach us in the process so He tells us to stay in the boat and do the work all while resting and trusting in Him. He is in control.
Someday this season of time will be over. I’m excited to see the revelation of God’s plan in this journey. It’s coming. It will be good because God is good. I also want to be with John. We will laugh and celebrate as every finish of a good race deserves. We’ll add the story to our collection and be able to tell the whole adventure together, for it will be lived together. I pray we will be more radiant for each other because we’ve both been in the fire being changed, and we’ll get to enjoy “the really good stuff” because we’ve been through the hard things….together. Glory to God!
33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart;I have overcome the world.”
2 Corinthians 3:18
18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.