Friday, September 05, 2008

Reprieve

I had a reprieve on Monday. It was Labor Day, which meant that we ceased from our labor (ha! just being in Hawaii seems like a cease from labor), ignored all social obligations, and cooked chicken shish-gabobs--as I so sloppily called them. Those of you who know me humorously take it in stride that when happy or excited I’ll sometimes slur my words. Thoughts of kebobs obviously did the trick. (Of course, I was thinking Persian with some sour cherry saffron rice…)

Though American versions, the kabobs turned out wonderfully. More importantly, the Monday-night-Bible-study was cancelled. Don’t misunderstand, I absolutely enjoy that study. Every Monday evening a band of military wives meet together at our house to have dessert, to study, to pray and to chat. Deanna and I are the non-military add-ons, which is never a chore as I’m highly sympathetic with my brother’s career and my sister-in-law’s resultant duties and joys. However, the current study (one I encouraged, by the way, so don’t feel too sorry for me) is on The Power of a Praying Wife.

Remembering a friend’s tale of spending a year praying for his wife with the corresponding book (Power of a Praying Husband) before he even met her, I decided that prayer is always valuable and I could participate without actually knowing this mysterious man I’ll someday call “husband”. In theory, I’m right. In prayer, I’m right. (It feels great to serve him this way without even being sure of who he is.) But in conversational practicality, I’m in a tough spot.

I don’t know if Deanna feels it as keenly as I do. Several times over the last few months I have been ashamed to discover my heart saying to the Lord, “Don’t torture me.” These are accusations I have never entertained against Him, for I know He does not torture. But in everyday life I have somehow gotten into a situation where I am weekly reminded of how different my life is than these women who all married in their early 20’s and have (for the most part) children to raise and marriage relationships to nurture. While they are discussing what to do with your heart when your husband has to work late and you’re resentful over it, I’m just wondering what it might feel like to be loved so much that someone has pledged to come home always (even if late) – to me. I know I can love like that, but to be loved like that is outside my realm of experience. (Except, of course, for the divine Lover, who as Psalm 73 declares, is “my portion forever”.)

I was delighted to be reassured by Him out of Lamentations 3.

“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
to the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the Lord…
Though He causes grief,
Yet He will show compassion
According to the multitude of His mercies.
For He does not afflict willingly (from His heart),
Nor grieve the children of men.”

Yet, it sometimes does feel like a weekly torture, especially when marriage problems and complaints dominate the conversation while I am quietly sitting there marveling at how quickly our human souls can forget how good and how merciful the Lord has shown Himself to us in first giving such a gift as a husband or a wife. It is easier to see this, I suppose, when the gift has not yet been given to me. But He reminded me in this scripture that His heart is not to torture or afflict. His heart is to have mercy, and part of that mercy, I know, is to take me through the necessary trials to purify and perfect my soul. Ah, mercy in all its facets.

I’m supposed to lead the group in a few weeks and I just have to laugh about it. I’ve been put in a position like this before, where I ended up leading a study on the week it happened to be about marriage. I – the only unmarried one in the whole group of 20 women! God’s got a great sense of humor and a great way of showing who actually does the work (the Holy Spirit, of course) when we let him. Somehow, He came through that night and much was done in the women’s hearts. I trust the same will happen again, though I won’t have to teach specifically on marriage. Beseeching the Lord together over our husbands will be much easier. And on that day I at least can be certain that the leader will not admonish me, in all seriousness, to sleep with my husband often and willingly. However scriptural that command is, it is not one I currently have in my power to obey. I shall stick to more universally applicable admonishments, or at least, to ones that Deanna and I can follow just as well as the wives. Perhaps something about unselfishly loving…

1 comment:

Mary said...

i cannot tell you how timely this was to my soul today, amy. i'm in tears! thank you - i needed the insight, and the scripture.

love,
mary