I had an opportunity to teach some young men who were training to become ministers, and was asked a question about marriage (I was teaching Titus, so it was very relevant). During that talk, one thing I remember saying was "I've seen marriages ruin ministries, and ministries ruin marriages." And it's true: since I was a kid, I've seen scandals on television, I've seen friends in ministry quit the ministry outright, and I've seen preachers I've known lose their marriages over the course of their ministry. This absolutely breaks my heart! And yet, I've got a peace and rest in this because God has granted me a partner who has not merely stood by me through thick and thin (Tammy Wynette would be proud), but has been my partner in every ministry, encouraging me, lifting me up, praying over me, and serving alongside me.
Today marks our thirteenth anniversary, and it is probably the roughest one. This season, we've seen personal family tragedy with the loss of her father, and I was encouraging her to cancel our plans. In her wisdom, she said "God gave us each other. We need to find joy, even when we're facing rough times. We need to celebrate us, and fight for us, and encourage us, even when we're mourning." I don't deserve her. I know that she loves Jesus more than me (she has to in order to put up with me!), and followed His calling away from our home state to Oklahoma and now to Arkansas, My wife has made homes for us everywhere we go, and she's done so at much personal risk and hurt. Yet, she's trusted God each step and we've seen Him come through again and again for us. She's done as Jesus said, put her shoulder to the plow and not looked back, and her dedication to Jesus humbles me. She's helping me raise 4 amazing, godly and handsome sons, and she selflessly serves each of us, because that is her gift. She balances me out, and I know God knew what He was doing when He put us together.
If there is any encouragement in any of this: find a partner who loves Christ more than you, and you love more Christ than them. In this way, we all end up evenly yoked. Marriage is not easy, and the world is trying to break it down. Yet God is its author, designer, and creator, so we who are His followers must hold it sacred and fight for it as our first ministry if that is what He calls us in to. Find joy in it, laugh, cry, mourn together. More importantly, serve the Lord together, and seek His will above all else. It won't be easy (We have an enemy who wants to kill, steal and destroy, after all), but with God we can endure and thrive, no matter the circumstances. Proverbs 31:10-31 An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.