I was never really a rebellious kid, but I didn’t always think before I acted. Like the time we were vacationing on Salt Spring Island and had gone to a small lake to swim and cool off. My family had one pair of flippers that all five kids were taking turns using. When it was my turn I started swimming around, fascinated by how much stronger I could swim with the flippers. I noticed on the far side of the lake, I don’t think it was more than 150-200 yards away, a small floating dock. I thought to myself, “hey, I bet I could swim across this lake.”
My cousins were with us and so with the five of them and five of us there was a lot of splashing and chaos, so it wasn’t a lack of attention on my parents part, but you can imagine my folk’s reaction when they realized I was more than half way to the other side. I certainly didn’t need to imagine what their reaction might be. When they managed to get my attention I was told in no uncertain terms I was to get to the dock and stay there till Dad walked around the lake to get me.
On the walk back Dad justifiably suggested I had used this as a means of extending my turn with the flippers, but I honestly had no intentionally devious motives, I simply had never swum across a lake before and wanted to see if I could do it. However, I had pursued what I wanted without any consideration for anyone else particularly my parents.
That’s a natural inclination for most of us, including the way we relate to God. How often do we set our plans and make our decisions based on our own assessment of what we want to see, or think should happen in our lives. But we need to learn how to acknowledge the sovereignty of God in our lives, even in the small, daily, mundane things.
One of the things that has helped me to live this way more consistently is to honestly examine my motives. Is the particular decision or course of action coming from a desire for self-fulfilment or from a desire for Jesus? But let me caution you, I’ve found I need to be ruthless in assessing my motives. Like swimming across the lake, it’s easy to rationalize and justify, and wrap it all up in noble sounding motives, but really I just wanted to do my own thing.
This week I celebrate 25 years of marriage to my favorite lady in the entire world. With that in mind I hope you will pardon me if I abandon my usual format and indulge in telling you about some of the reasons I love this wonderful woman I have the privilege and joy of calling my wife.
I have to be honest, the first thing that made me notice this tall and slender beauty was, well, she was tall, slender and gorgeous! Some say physical beauty fades but I would suggest to you that it merely transforms. Wendy doesn’t look exactly like that 20 year old I married; she’s more beautiful now than ever.
But it is true that beauty only goes so far, and I quickly learned that Wendy is completely devoted to God. Some people mistakenly believe that a wife’s first allegiance ought to be to her husband and vice-versa. This is wrong first and foremost because God is worthy of her loyalty far more than I. But beyond that, because Wendy’s affection is to God first she is then better able to love me. Because God is first in her life he enables her to love me to depths and degrees that she never could on her own. A woman, or a man for that matter, is far more attractive when their first devotion is to God and second to their spouse.
If you were to spend much time in conversation with my wife it wouldn’t take you long to recognize that she is a woman who passionately cares for people, particularly those who have been abused, or oppressed and taken advantage of. She has a strong sense of justice but an even stronger drive to protect and care for the hurting ones. She loves to help bring healing and wholeness, drawing out the full beauty of people who have been wounded.
Maybe the most compelling thing for me about Wendy is that she has seen me at my worst and still chooses to love me. She knows my weaknesses and failings, my shortcomings and ugly sinfulness that hides in the shadows yet still she daily chooses to love me.
This list is only just a beginning, but in each characteristic I see the person and nature of Jesus. Admittedly the expression isn’t perfect, but the reality, and this by God’s design, is that I know and experience the love of Jesus better because of how Wendy loves me.
Wendy I love you.