My husband and I celebrate sixteen years of marriage today. As I look at the man sitting beside me, and I remember the same man on the day we were married, I realize there was a lot that I didn’t know about him on our wedding day. Sixteen years ago, I thought I knew him well. I knew he was kind and hard working. I knew that I could spend hours talking to him. I thought he enjoyed running since he would run with me (turns out I was wrong about that one!). I knew he was a man who was dependable and would do what was right, one who loved pizza and playing games. Most importantly, I knew that he loved me. After three and a half years of dating, yes, I knew him, and I knew I wanted to spend my life with him. But I didn’t know everything.
I didn’t know how blessed my children would be to have him as a father. I also couldn’t know how much our children would take after him. (Often at dinner I feel like I’m eating with three or four Jonathans, depending on the day!)
I couldn’t see on our wedding day how he would blossom into the spiritual leader that he is today. I didn’t know that he would encourage me to keep going when I wanted to quit. I had no idea that he would be the one to see the best in me when all I could see was the bad.
I didn’t know how many countless times he would hold me while I cried. Just come sit and let me hold you, he so often says. That steadfastness. How could I have explained the value of that to myself sixteen years ago?
Not to say all has been perfect. Even though we ate breakfast together every day during college, I had no idea that listening to him eat cereal in the morning would come to drive me crazy! There have been disagreements on raising our children and how we spend money. We’ve had plenty of ups and downs as we’ve grown together. I’m sure we have ups and downs yet to come. But there’s no way that sixteen years ago I could appreciate my husband the way I do now.
We’ve been through so much together – children, deaths, moving, jobs, trips, sickness, and uncertainty. We’ve had times of closeness and times when the cares of life have pulled us apart. Even if someone had tried to explain it to me on our wedding day, I couldn’t have appreciated the value my husband brings to my life. It’s just something I had to live to discover, but that doesn’t invalidate the commitment I made to him originally. You see, even though I didn’t know the details of what life with my husband would bring, I knew his nature, and I knew I didn’t want to be apart from him. I committed to live my life with him.
My relationship with God has taken similar turns. When I was baptized into Christ at age 11, I didn’t know the Lord the way I do now. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t know Him. I knew His nature, and I knew I didn’t want to be apart from Him. Now, at age 38, I appreciate the peace of God so much more than I could have at age 11. That doesn’t invalidate the commitment that I made, though. The commitment was just the beginning.
Just as with my husband, there are so many things that I just had to live to appreciate and love the Lord the way I do now. Hours upon hours of Bible study have given me a deeper knowledge of Him. Just as with my husband, my relationship with God grows as I live with Him daily.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. John 15:4
At age 11, I could never have understood how valuable knowing God would be in enduring the death of loved ones, and explaining that death to my children. I couldn’t know how God’s guidance, protection, and peace would be invaluable in raising children in this world. Even if someone had tried to explain it to me, I couldn’t have understood how many times God would comfort me – how many times I would find peace in His saying Just come sit and let me hold you.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
I had to live it myself to understand. I had to walk with the Lord, and spend my life with Him to know Him as I do now. There have been times I haven’t been as close to Him as I should, times when the cares of this world pulled me away from Him. I know how those times hurt, and I appreciate even more the love and patience the Lord has shown to me. Through the ups and downs, God’s steadfastness and love for me has been unwavering. As I look back, I can see it. We’ve been through so much together.
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18
As with my husband, my relationship with God is a journey lived daily. It is tempting to look back and question the value of the commitment that I originally made, just because my knowledge is so much fuller now. But that growth had to start somewhere. Yes, there are things that I didn’t know on my wedding day. Yes, there is understanding about God that I didn’t have when I became a Christian. Lord willing, in another sixteen years, I will look back to this day with an even greater knowledge and appreciation than I have now. That’s what daily growth brings. God is good. A life lived with Him is full. But, I can’t explain it to you and you comprehend its fullness. It’s something that you need to live to discover for yourself.
O taste and see that the LORD is good;How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Psalm 34:8