By Jolene Engle, Contributing Writer
On December 19, 1997, on a sandy beach in Southern California, my Beloved etched words in the sand asking me to be his wife.
With an overwhelming love for him, I said yes! I knew at that moment that God handed me, sinful, vile me, a beautiful gift that I was not worthy to receive.
He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD. Proverbs 18:22
We had a three month courtship and three month engagement which made our beginnings sound like a romantic fairy tale coming straight from Hollywood.
But what shortly followed was anything but.
Just one month after our vows I entered into the world of ill-health at age 28. Surgery was in order because I had pre-cancerous cells of my cervix. The doctor told us we may never conceive as a result of this condition. Being that I’m adopted, those were words I never wanted to hear. I was devastated by the news.
But God gave us a gift….
On our one year anniversary I found out I was pregnant. I was thrilled that God would allow me to have this gift; the gift of being a mother and to raise up a Godly generation. Yet, as the boy inside of me was starting to grow so were a host of debilitating and chronic issues that would soon unleash in my body.
That young, vibrant, energetic, go-getter bride that my Beloved married was now becoming a distant memory……
It’s been a long road. A hard road. A road filled with the sting of life. A road that many times I don’t feel like I can travel. This laying down of my life. Surrendering my all to the Lord. The brokenness that I’m so familiar with; sometimes
I think it climbs in bed with me, I know it climbs in bed with me because often times that’s where my tears fall the most.
But God gave us a gift….
After all those years of being a chronically ill wife, my husband became chronically patient. The Lord was shaping him into the servant-leader that Christ desires a husband to be. On the other hand, the Lord was fashioning my natural, take-charge, self-sufficient personality into a woman who now naturally follows and relies on her husband. In the breaking of my physical body, Christ was chipping away my will. The Potter was fashioning His clay giving me what I needed in order to have the glorious marriage that I desired. The one flesh in our marriage grew stronger as a result of our trials. Through the unbearable journey that the Lord took me through, the original Gift Giver knew what we needed in order to draw closer to Him, as well as to one another.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
Of course the Gift Giver is very generous! Christ allowed my husband and I to endure incredible financial hardship over a span of 5 yrs. so He could mold us even more and make us better vessels to build His kingdom.
Although I surrendered my will and asked God to choose my spouse all those years ago, what I didn’t realize what that marriage, more specifically, my marriage, was to bring God glory. You see, I didn’t have the spiritual maturity to understand that concept over 14 years ago, but today I do.
It was the Gift Giver who came up with the concept of marriage. The Great I Am, the Creator of the Universe said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Gen. 2:18) Marriage was created by God and it exists not just for the sole purpose of bringing forth Godly offspring, but for us as God’s dear children to bring Christ glory in all our circumstances.
All things were created by him and for him. Colossians 1:16
Now I’d be lying to you if I told you what the Lord has taken us through has been easy, but again, dying to yourself is never easy. Learning contentment is the last thing we naturally seek to do when we’re faced with loss, broken dreams, and pain. Walking the Narrow Path and being in the center of God’s will does not mean life will always feel good. A prime example of this is Job’s life.
And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:2-5
But God has given us a gift…
My life’s circumstances have shaped me and through the sufferings that I’ve endured God has given me a gift. As the Potter has molded, refined, and purged me, I am now a vessel that better resembles her Maker. God has answered my prayers; prayers to be more like Him.
Oh friend, no matter your trials, heartaches, or the uncertainties you may be facing, I encourage you this Christmas season to bask in the presence of the Gift Giver and enjoy the marital present He has blessed you with!
Marriage is a gift given to us by God.