On December 21, 1989, my husband proposed to me, and when I accepted he said, “Things are going to get busy.” If I would have known then what ‘busy’ meant, I might have turned back.
But God orders life in such a way that He lets us see just a bit. At that moment, I could say yes, even knowing that my future husband was a divorced father of a four-year-old. But would I have said yes if I had known that we would live in eleven homes in twenty-four years? That we would ultimately be the parents of four children? That I was not only marrying a teacher, but a therapist, and a pastor, and a university administrator?
Maybe. I was a starry-eyed twenty-three year old when I said yes. I knew what was behind me — divorced parents, an eating disorder, my college education. I had survived so much already. How hard could this be?
Hard. You probably know all too well that life is hard — just when you think you are sailing smoothly, a storm pops up — a job change, an educational challenge, a health issue, financial trouble, extended family trouble, and the list goes on. Sometimes it feels as though we can’t handle even what this particular day holds — how on earth would we manage if we had the whole script in front of us from day one?
I was still a little starry eyed in 2004 when my husband said to me, “God is calling me to the seminary.” In six months’ time I finished coursework for my Master’s degree, prepared a house for selling, sold/gave away half of our possessions, packed up a family of five, and relocated three states away. I was excited because of what I knew — God had called my husband into ministry. Would I have been so excited if I had known, really known, the struggles our children would face in St. Louis? Would I have been happy to embrace a life of busy-ness, a busier busy-ness than we had ever known? What if He’d said, “You’re going to be there for 10 years, you are both going to experience significant health issues, and there is going to be plenty of family strife.” Would we have still signed up?
Maybe. I mean, back then we were still, in our minds, pretty invincible. We might have still signed up. But maybe not. We might have been scared. We might have wanted to protect our family from struggle. We might have wanted to protect ourselves from struggle.
And if we would have done that, the story would be much different than the story is today. We have been changed. I am not the starry-eyed twenty-three year old who agreed to marry my husband. I am not the optimistic ‘let’s do it!’ wife who moved mountains so that we could answer God’s call. I have been changed.
And I’m still changing, because life keeps happening — the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.
It’s pretty easy to thank God when He gives you a beautiful granddaughter to hold and adore. It gets a little more difficult when you, or the people who you love, are hurting. But I find assurance in knowing that even before 1989, God knew every little thing that He would bring into my life — even the stuff of today. He knew in advance that He would be with me through all of it — that He would be carrying me in the palm of His hand.
This morning the pastor at the church we were visiting recalled, through the genealogy in Matthew 1, God’s faithfulness, especially in light of the faithLESSness of man. He started with Abraham’s unfaithfulness, then Isaac’s, and so on. His point was that God knew, from before the creation of the world, that we (all of us) would screw it up. And yet he planned, from before the creation of the world, to keep a covenant with His people. The covenant did not depend on us doing the right thing, saying yes at the right time, or answering a call. It only depended on the faithfulness of God.
And He is faithful. Faithful to love me when I couldn’t have cared less about Him. Faithful to hold me when I felt all alone. Faithful to heal me when I was hurting. Faithful to carry me when I was too tired to walk on my own. He knew before time began that He would be faithful in all these things, even when I was faithLESS.
Back in 1989 I didn’t know what was in store for me, and today is no different. I have no idea what will come into our lives in the years to come, but I do know that God will remain faithful to us. He will continue to carry us in the palm of His hand.
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God;
He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations…