5-2-2019 – e-News

Twenty years ago, I was just days away from graduating college. Then, just a few days after that, I’d be standing in a church in Wonder Lake, IL, where Julia and I would become husband and wife. That was May 21, 1999 … a very happy day!
Even though we’ve been married for twenty years, I don’t think either of us would consider ourselves experts on marriage. Certainly no one is breaking down our door asking us to write the next best-selling book or to lead some big conference.
That said, I believe our marriage has worked for two big reasons:
First, and not to be trite at all, we have tried to honor Jesus in our marriage. Honoring Him means honoring each other. As he begins his teaching on marriage, Paul writes these words, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)
Too many people read that section of scripture and try to figure out who has the power in the relationship. But the truth is, it’s not about power – it’s about mutual submission to one another out of reverence for Jesus. That mutual submission means respect. It means honoring the other person above yourself. It means sacrificing for each other. And, of course, it means love.
No one can be in a relationship that lasts, especially a marriage, without realizing that love is a decision long before it’s a feeling. We have to decide to love each other sometimes. We have to do loving things and say loving things (or at least not do the opposite), even when we’re hurt or mad and really want to. We especially have to choose to love after a big fight, when one or both of us said or did something stupid, and we need to make it right. In those moments, when you don’t feel like it and they certainly don’t deserve it, love decides to forgive and reconcile.
That decision to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ is no small thing. It’s made twenty years possible.
The second thing that has been critical has been remembering that marriage takes work and we vowed before God to work until we got it right. You’ve probably heard these vows many times:
I, ___, take you, ___, to be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death; as God is my witness, I give you my promise.
Anyone can get dressed up, stand in a decorated room, and say those words. That part is easy. The hard part is living them out when you had a big dream and it didn’t work out, or when you have big bills to pay and not enough money to pay them, or when you have to sit by a bedside in a hospital waiting for surgery or worse. We’ve had to deal with all of those and more.
I know there have been times when I didn’t qualify for the gold medal on fulfilling those vows. I also know that I will have plenty of time to practice in the months and years to come. There are days when it will be easy, but there are also days when it will be work.
And I think on the days where it will be work … that’s when it counts the most!
I’m sure Julia would join me in thanking you for loving us through sixteen of these twenty years. Thank you to many of you – young and old alike – for being such great examples to us of what a Christian marriage can and should be. Thank you for supporting us and our family in good times and bad. You have sustained us and built us up more than you will ever know.
Blessings! Pastor Jim
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