“How can I say thanks for the things You have done for me?”
So begins the first line in a 1970’s classic song by Andrae Crouch. How appropriate that God would bring it to me now, as my husband & I chose it for the recessional march in our wedding, coming on to our 40th Anniversary later this year. This year. The year that we have been shut in together as he is rehabbing from his knee replacement surgery, and I am beginning yet another RA treatment.
Time for lots of reflecting. . . .
We were so young and in love, thinking we understood what it meant to surrender . . .
I was the “Christian good girl” and he was the “newly converted wild one.” Oh, how many things had to change between us and in us. Where I thought I knew what needed to be “fixed,” he thought he knew what needed to be “freed up.”
And all the while God knew where love and surrender would meet up again and again.
We set out all starry-eyed and fresh-faced. But when the pornography monster reared it’s ugly head, not once, but many times, I thought I could him help control the awful interloper. He thought he could control it too.
Enter surrender’s voice calling out to our hearts. Only God can have true access into the heart.
And when the mercy of God carried us through that early trial, bearing the scars, yet loving all the more deeply, we thought we knew the formula required to conquer the storms. But God is no formula, and love seeks not it’s own way.
With every stormy trial, (you’ve probably known some of them too: job loss, ministry loss, family struggles) we learned there could be only one constant: God’s ways are not our own.
“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,’
declares the Lord.” Isaiah 55:6-8
The true oneness that God designed to bring to marriage can only happen as hearts continue in surrender to His ways. We found the deeper oneness as we surrendered during every trial. We resisted, and we struggled, but in the end it wasn’t ever our own efforts that brought any kind of victory. It was only God’s mercy that guided us through the storms.
But what about these later years when physical weakness feels like an unending trial?
Where is the surrender then?
Could it be that God is showing us a deeper oneness, even as we share in the offering up together of our own inabilities in this place also? I cannot drive far, and he cannot drive at all yet. We are shut-in here in this small town. We are dependent on help. We know that only GRACE, the way of Jesus, will carry us into this new season also.
And for those times when the young love seemed tested, but had so much father to go?
Well, the words spoken then were gifted to carry us through the future trials too. God’s ways see beyond what we can ever imagine.
~Sonnet written by Barry for Bettie (Beth) in 1985
And for the future? What will those surrenders look like?
The same Lord who was with us in the past, is with us today, and will be with us tomorrow, bringing the change and the help that only He can.
If I would see Your ways
Then cleanse my eyes
Only things that move
If I would see Your ways
Then cleanse my eyes
Only ways that tug
If You could part the seas
If You could slay the giant
If You could cage the lion
If You could still the storm
You could cleanse my eyes
You could wash my lips
You could purge my heart
Open Heaven here
To see the way You see
To love with a heart unfettered
To walk Your path
Not my own.
Have you been weathering harsh storms lately? Can you join me in prayer as we look upward together?
Dear Heavenly Father,
We come before You bowed with our hearts in surrender. We know that we cannot see the ways to love. We confess that we have tried to fix or to free on our own. Thank You for the deep mercy You have showered on us as we have come in repentance to You. We stand in awe at the love that You have allowed us to taste. We are overwhelmed by the ways that You have given us Your love to weather every storm. Help us to lift our hearts to You and You only. Let us love each other with the very love You have poured on us.
In the name of Your precious son, Jesus, we pray,
And thank you so very much for all who have joined us in prayer during this past month. We are truly grateful for every word uttered to the Lord on our behalf!
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