God is faithful in the good times and bad, sometimes we just can’t see the mountains of beauty surrounding a rocky marriage or trial until we submit and allow Him to intervene.
I’m sitting at a round wooden table in a cozy loft-condo as I write these words and the view— it doesn’t get much better in my opinion. From the glass doors leading out to the balcony, the scenery is not only inviting, but breathtaking as well. Situated four stories below and cascading outward are attractive rustic shops and welcoming lodges to accommodate the many visitors, which surely outnumber the locals. This little rural town is encircled by a display of boundless mountains. Evergreens thickly cover the slopes and golden shades of Aspen trees experience the effects of Autumn. At the summit of the taller mountains, last year’s remaining snow can still be seen and heavy gray-colored clouds graze the tops in a steady manner while the sun occasionally makes an appearance.
Our family makes it a point to take in God’s impressive craftsmanship by venturing to the Rocky mountains in the heart of Colorado annually. Only this time the kids are back home entertaining grandparents which leaves just my husband and I. We took a trip to Mount Rushmore this past summer which we enjoyed as a family (so no worries the kids aren’t feeling too left out) plus I’m sure they’ve considered the fact that we’ll come back with a surprise of some sort for each of them. This year, and even more definitively- this week, marks thirteen years of marriage for my sweetie and I. And as an effort to celebrate we decided it’d be just the two of us on this adventure. It’s the first time we’ve been on a get-a-way without children or another couple, so to say we were a “little giddy” months before this retreat arrived would be an understatement.
I could carry on about the desire of coming to this remarkable place for a number of reasons…the cool crisp air, the Aspens that I’d love to scoop up and transplant to my backyard if it were that easy, to the comfortable warm fireplace just feet away from where I’m sitting, but the most appealing piece of this moment is seated directly across from me, my husband, with his Bible laying open on the table as he reads and studies God’s word. It’s something I witness often and it never grows old. It’s something I prayed over for months with our children- to see their father come to faith. Tears well up in my eyes as I consider God’s answer to prayer and His loving faithfulness. To see our family grow in the Lord humbles me and leaves me wanting more of Him.
It wasn’t always this way though…
I grew up attending church with my family, never knowing (however) that God desired more than just a Sunday morning commitment from me. After a long road of disobedience and naive sense of direction in regard to my faith and choices as a teenager and young adult, I finally found a genuine relationship with Jesus in my late twenties.
My husband, on the other hand, grew up only knowing of church as a building where weddings and funerals take place.
We began dating off and on as teenagers, but to refer to us as “high school sweethearts” would be a distant stretch from the truth. We had an uncommitted, unhealthy relationship, much bigger than a couple that age should have—far exceeding the capacity of our maturity level. From a worldly perspective it’s a wonder we ever married, but God (in all of His flawlessness) had a plan for us even back then in the midst of the negativity and ignorance as teens and then as newlyweds. Although our lives weren’t following Him at the time, He was leading us in His direction. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” God is as alive these days as He was thousands of years ago when those words were spoken to the Israelites.
It wasn’t until after years of selfish behavior, many mistakes, a questionable marriage and three children later that I finally surrendered to God while sitting in the church pews with my young babies right beside me and my husband at home with an alcohol problem. I was at a point in my life where I knew things needed to change, I knew there had to be more to life than chasing dreams that never seemed to satisfy. I was a mess when I walked through those church doors that morning, but the guest speaker was a woman and it would be my first time hearing a woman preach so my mindset was a little different and I was desperate for an answer to my hurt and brokenness. I remember her quoting Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”, and stating that she was sure all of us were probably familiar with that verse. I was amazed that as often as I had sat in church, that highly quoted verse was very unfamiliar to me and I felt guilty over all those years I had wasted not pursuing Christ, just warming a seat and not listening attentively― but that promising verse changed my life in a huge way…
I began reading God’s word passionately and prayed zealously for my faith and trust in God to grow. It was one of the most intense times of my life and honestly I wasn’t sure if my marriage would survive; my husband didn’t seem to understand my new walk with Christ, regardless the kids and I hit our knees and folded our hands in prayer daily, in total reverence to God, praying that their daddy would have a heart change.
During the time that followed I studied 1 Corinthians chapter 7, which instructs believers on marriage, advising ‘Christian men or women to stay with their spouse even if that person is not a believer. (Obviously if abuse of any sort is happening in the relationship there are exceptions in those circumstances.) If the husband or wife who is not a believer insist on leaving, let him or her go, but otherwise there is hope that the unbeliever might be saved by the positive influence expressed from the believer.’
I held on to those very words with great expectations and trust. I don’t know where your faith stands, but Y’all God is so amazingly good― my husband’s heart was softened within a few short months and my kids and I both saw the results of answered prayer. It still amazes me how quickly he came to accept and put his faith in Christ. I want to believe if I hadn’t sought counsel through God’s word regarding marriage, mine may have easily faltered. I realize not every Christian husband or wife witnesses a change in a non-believing spouse even after years or a lifetime of crying out to the Lord in prayer, but trust that God sees your good-heart intentions and perseverance even in the middle of the struggle.
God is faithful in the good times and bad, sometimes we just can’t see the mountains of beauty surrounding a rocky marriage or trial until we submit and allow Him to intervene. Spending time with my husband in the Rocky Mountains is truly a blessing to our marriage, but there’s so much more to love than that…it’s paying attention to one another’s needs every day― even when it may not always be convenient, it’s breaking the yokes on a couple of over-easy eggs before serving them every morning before 6 AM, it’s making sure the toilet paper rolls outward instead of inward because your spouse has a slight obsessive-compulsive disorder, it’s lathering cream on a shoulder rash that may possibly be West Nile (seriously, but he’s too stubborn to have it doctor-checked), it’s laughing hysterically with one another over absolutely nothing.
Most importantly love is about trusting in a God who created you and I both, trusting that the best love story took place when Jesus died on the cross for my sins and yours because he wants us saved from a life of eternal damnation. Love is written all over in God’s word from front to back, scriptures that point to Christ’ love for us. When our marriages are healthy they will resemble the kind of love Jesus shows― sacrificial, authentic, faithful love and I can’t think of anything I desire more than that.
….Since I know my husband loves to check up on me with my blog, I know he’ll be reading this… so here’s to you babe― Happy 13th Anniversary!!! You make it easy for me to love you more and more everyday…now “FORWARD, FORWARD, FOOOORWARRRRD!” (Just like our hippie river-captain commanded as we white water rafted down the river on his yellow rubber yacht;)