Love, a gift from above

In what will be a huge shock to my wife, today I’m going to write about something very personal. Yesterday, we celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary. What can you say to someone who you’ve spent over half your life with? There are no gifts or no greeting cards that could ever express the emotions that you feel when you slow down to think about the amazing people in your life. You don’t get to choose your family but your spouse… Some people have not been as blessed as we have been in finding a true match or a true partner for life. Sure, there are ups and downs but all in all, we’ve been blessed to have each other. What kind of a gift do you give to a person like that? You tell the world! Since these devotions reach around the world, that is exactly what I’m doing; tell the world how much I love my wife.

I’m not one to be serious for long, I keep finding ways to lighten the mood – so here you go: As I wrote the last sentence in the last paragraph, I thought that people are going to think that I did something horrible and this is how I’m being punished; a grand gesture because I was a complete jerk. It’s true that I can be a jerk at times, but this is written purely from the heart. We regularly celebrate what a great team we are, how we support each other (her supporting me more) but we constantly work hard at it. People ask, what is the secret? The answer is complicated to do but basically simple, keep your spouse in mind – always. This is the foundation of teamwork, putting the team ahead of your own desires or ambitions. We have always cared for each other, even when the kids were small. We knew we were stronger together than we were apart. Today, our nest is empty and when people ask how it’s going, I always reply, “We still like each other after all these years so it’s going great”.

17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. 19My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:17-20

What a verse to describe your spouse – “Every good and perfect gift is from above…” As a couple, our path to faith was a winding road. I believe that the good and perfect gift of my spouse is truly a gift from above. We didn’t have “a moment” that brought us close to God, but we did have constant reminders that faith in God and the understanding of the love shown to us by our Father and His Son was important to our lives. God’s love was consistent and reliable, just as James is reminding us here. While there is great marriage advice in verses 19 and 20, it is also great advice for living in these turbulent times.

Verse 19 really needs to be repeated, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”. In a world that we often cannot tell fact from fiction, we must take time to seek the calm in the world, God wants us to be righteous and love one another. President Kennedy, in a commencement address he gave at Yale in 1962 said: “For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” As I have been blessed with great love in my life for 34 years, I hope that you choose love, truth and peace over hate, myths and anger so you can “produce the righteousness that God desires.” You can do it because Jesus is beside you all of the way.

True Friends

We have a sign in our home office under a photo collection that reads “A good friend will come and bail you out of jail…But a true friend will be sitting next to you saying ‘Damn that was fun!’” The photo collection that it sits under is of friends that we have traveled with and watching each others kids grow up; they are our life long friends that we have known for 15 years but we live 2800 miles apart. We have always been able to pick up the phone and call one another just to hear a friendly voice when we get down, to share troubles with a sympathetic listener or to celebrate exciting news. They are True Friends. To have such a blessing is unusual – I think, and I am grateful for their friendship. Who stands by you when you need it? For us married men, it’s usually our wives at the top of that list (if you’re smart anyway). Lisa and I will be celebrating our 27th wedding anniversary this week and she has stood by me every day(9855+ days). We joke about what a great team we are when it comes to getting things done around the house or dealing with the kids but the real teamwork we share is working to be True Friends for each other. No matter what, we support and love each other every day, not because we have to but because we want to. I have had a number of professional opportunities come my way throughout the past 27 years, and she has supported every one of them. She’s changed states twice, we’ve lived in four apartments and five houses over the years and she continues to support me today as my number one cheerleader and encourager. While it’s highly unlikely, I know that if I found myself in jail, she would be sitting right next to me and we’d be laughing at the fun we had. To my True Friend, Happy Anniversary!

Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you…”

We have all heard people say or we have said ourselves “God has a plan for you”. Some believe that the circumstances in their lives are merely chance happenings and that God doesn’t get into those details of their life or worse yet, that there isn’t a God doing anything. God does have a plan but as I’ve said before, it’s on His timeline not ours. A day or a year in God’s eye is not the same as an earthly one. Many of you will agree that “this life” is complicated and filled with all kinds of problems and trials. Can this really be part of God’s plan? It sure can be! God will only give us what we can handle and He wants us to grow in our faith and in our lives. We cannot grow if we are not challenged. The baby who first learns to walk is then challenged by climbing stairs, and again climbing down them before walking down. These are all challenges (ups and downs) and they exist in our lives but on a different scale. God wants us to grow! Like parents who help their baby take those first steps, He is there with us holding our hands for balance. As things get harder and the waters of our lives turn into rivers, He will be there so you are not swept away. God’s grace and love are with you everyday, sometimes you need to simply stop and realize it. Like the friend sitting with you laughing, God is always there – a True Friend. Thank Him for His care and presence in your life.