Saturday, June 23, 2012

5 Years Ago Today, My Emma Died

5 years ago today, my Emma died. 

5 years ago today, I felt Emma’s last movements and heard my little one’s final heartbeats.

5 years ago today, I was told that my daughter had just died. And, the realization began to set in that my daughter would not, in this world, ever see my face or feel my arms around her.  However, though she does not know what I look like, she has looked into the face of Jesus.  While she has not known my arms holding her, she knows the embrace of the King.  And for that, I rejoice.

Tomorrow is Emma’s birthday.  5 years ago, I labored.  I delivered.  And there was a silent room.  I did not hear her cries.  And for my lifetime, I will not hear her sweet voice calling me “Mommy” or saying that she loves me.  But for all eternity, she will sing to her heavenly Father and praise Him perfectly in love.  While I do not sing her lullabies at bedtime, she is able to rejoice with the angelic choirs praising our amazing, eternal, sovereign Savior. And for that, I rejoice.

Monday will mark 5 years since the day I rode away from the hospital with an empty car, no baby to take home.  But the truth is, she was already home.  She was already in her true home…already in my true home too.  And for that, I rejoice.

So, 5 years later, I will rejoice.  I will make her birthday dessert, and I will cry.  And as I do, I will rejoice in my good, faithful God, Who has carried Josh and me as we have walked through the valley of the shadow of death (See Ps. 23:4; 28:9).  It would have been easy to fall into depression and despair, yet I will say with David:  “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”  (Psalm 27:13)  Our God is so very good.  In the midst of our lives whether in a trial or not, He is unchanging, unwavering, loving, faithful, gracious, strong, peace-giving, trustworthy, and a million other adjectives that would still be inadequate to describe Him.  Our God is awesome.  He alone is able to work all of the circumstances of our lives for our best and His glory (See Rom. 8:28).

I do not know the matters of your heart, but join me.  Rest in Him today.  Rejoice in Him today.  Yes, grieve what needs to be grieved over, but in it, rejoice in Him, just Him. Because He really is beautiful.

Take heart.  Lay down your burden.  Rejoice.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” Phil. 4:4

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Ministry of Marriage

So, the other day, I was watching some talk show on tv, which I had never seen before and have not watched since, and on it, they were discussing how shocked they were to see statistics showing that couples who live together before marriage have a higher divorce rate than those who do not.  They went on to say that personally they felt that this “practice” time would be so beneficial to a relationship.  One host even went on to say that he preferred living together outside of marriage because it provides “an out” in case a fire breaks out in the relationship.  Then later in the week, one of our youth at church asked with great seriousness, “What happened to marriage?  I have never seen a marriage work the way the Bible talks about it.”  Then a few days later, another youth told me that she is trusting God for a biblical marriage someday, even though she has never seen one displayed in her home or her friends’ homes. 

What is going on?!  What is happening?!  Why don’t students, who, by the way, are practically marrying age, have any idea what a biblical marriage is?!  It occurs to me that the definition of marriage has changed.  It is no longer an institution designed and established by God for the purpose of demonstrating a picture of Christ and the Church, among other attributes of God, like love, faithfulness, patience, etc., but it is instead a highly sensible, very practical living arrangement between two individuals who get along very well in a functional capacity.  Our culture has redefined marriage as “roommates with benefits.”  And what’s terribly worse, is that this redefinition is taking over how young couples and teens view marriage.  The biblical, God-given definition is becoming muddled by worldliness. 

I really think it’s time for Christian couples to rise up and step into the roles that God has designed for a husband and a wife.  God should be being glorified in your marriage, and if He is not, there’s a problem somewhere.  Ephesians 5:22-33 is so familiar, and is certainly not the only passage in Scripture where God discusses marriage, but I’m gonna use it because it is so pertinent.  It says,
“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.  But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.  So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.  FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.  This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.  Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”

Wives, our job is to operate with such submission to our OWN husbands as though we are submitting to the Lord Himself.  Your husband is not God, nor is he your God, but he is your God-given authority, and as such you should submit to him.  This is not a submission that applies to any other man than your husband.  So if your pastor says you need to volunteer for something and your husband says not to, do what your husband says, and then don’t go and compare the two men.  Your husband is YOUR husband.  He alone will be directed by God for your lives together.  He alone will be making decisions out of love for you.  Biblical submission on the part of the wife, results in great respect and trust of your husband, just as it does when we walk in obedience to the Lord.  

Husbands are to love their wives sacrificially, keeping their wives from sin.  This is exactly what Jesus did for His bride.  And the man’s nourishing and cherishing of his wife, secures her in his love and enables her to operate in biblical submission.  Godly love from the husband leads the woman easily to a place of submission.  Jesus’s sacrificial love for the Church enables us to trust Him fully in His leadership in our lives.  We know He loves us because He shows us.  And so He is easy to obey because we know His leading is for our best and is out of love. 

So let’s do it!  Let’s reclaim marriage for what God designed it to be!  Let’s teach the future generations how God says marriage works best!  I realize that most of what’s been mentioned here is not new to the majority of you.  But I just wanted to offer a reminder to live out what you know.  Future generations are watching us.  Would the young people observing your marriage be able to say that they have seen a picture of Christ and the Church when they see you and your husband?  So, final thought, the ministry of marriage is, yes, absolutely to your spouse, but there is also a ministry that comes with marriage that teaches the young observers all around us how marriage glorifies God.