Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross
Yesterday marked thirty years of marriage to a woman I met when she was still technically a “girl” almost 32 years ago. God has blessed her with extraordinary beauty and youthfulness, but He has blessed me by her in ways far deeper than that. She constantly encourages my spiritual growth, helps me read my spiritual compass, and drives me to be closer to God and do His will better. This is not only a daily benefit I enjoy in marriage, but a benefit I typically enjoy throughout each day! Yet, she is also fun-loving, has a great sense of humor, and loves life and people profoundly. I could not have asked for a better mother for my children, and I could not have dreamed for a better companion to travel life’s road with.
Paul indicates that God created the marriage relationship to illustrate the relationship Christ would have with the church (Eph. 5:22-33). That’s profound! The Author of the most intimate relationship on earth wants us to learn and grow through this transformation connection we call marriage. He teaches us vital truths throughout His Word that we grasp and understand to our great benefit. Consider a few of them.
- “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband” (Prov. 12:4a).
- “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (Prov. 18:22).
- “House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord” (Prov. 19:14).
- “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life” (Prov. 31:10-12).
- ““You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride; You have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes, with a single strand of your necklace. How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than all kinds of spices” (Song 4:9-10).
- “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself” (Eph. 5:28).
- “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them” (Col. 3:19).
- “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered” (1 Pet. 3:7).
I am impressed with how much God honors and upholds marriage. He invented and instituted it (Gen. 2:18-25). It was His sweetest gift to humanity, second only to the sacrifice of His Son for our sins! He has given us an instruction manual to help us navigate the many ups and downs that are a part of it. It can bring us some of life’s most difficult and excruciating moments. But undoubtedly, it will give us some of the sweetest, most memorable, and sustaining moments, too.
So much happens in three decades of life, especially in the marriage context. While it seems like just a moment ago that we stood before my dad in Manchester, Georgia, that Friday afternoon, seeing three grown, married children and some inevitable physical changes in the mirror tells me more time has passed than it seems. In the treasure chest of my heart, there are so many memories and events over the span of those years. Invariably, right there in my mental picture of them all is the sweet, pretty face of that blonde, witty, and intense beauty who grounds me, balances me, and pushes me to be my best me.
It scares me to think about where I would be without her. It humbles me to think she chose to spend her life with me. It blesses me to think that, as the Lord wills, I get to do life with her today and for as many days as He gives us together. Thank God for the blessing of marriage! May I bless my Kathy as she has blessed me!