Steven and I are getting married on September 1 and it is a very exciting time. My sister made me a stunning bouquet. I made Asher, our little ring bearer, a beautiful lantern that will hold our rings as he presents them to us. My Father is conducting the ceremony and created a beautiful teaching on the importance of marriage and its symbolism to Jesus and His church.
It will be a small ceremony with only our immediate families. I didn’t want a big wedding and neither did Steven. At this phase in our lives, our marriage and life together is more important than a single day.
In preparation for the big day we are taking an amazing online pre-marital course that is walking us through questions, answers, conversations, and things that should be discussed before you say, “ I DO”.
We are learning what it means when the Bible says in Mark 10:8, “and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.” We are discovering what it looks like, practically speaking, when the two become one.
This weekend, we were tested in Mark 10:8, and I failed . . . Miserably!
Steven and I have been living in two separate residences throughout our entire dating life. Our personal conviction is that we shouldn’t live together before we were married. So we haven’t. This weekend, however, Steven began to move his belongings into my home as we are getting married in a few days.
My perfectly decorated home.
My everything in its proper place home.
My home that I have shared with my son for two years.
My home that works well for me and Asher.
My home that is now expanding to fit someone else.
I didn’t think about this moment when I shouted out, “Of course I will marry you.”
This sweet man came with two suitcases, a few items for one of his hobbies, his Marine Corps uniforms and awards, and a computer.
And I was beside myself.
My world was being turned upside down. I thought I’d be okay with this. But suddenly, this beautiful man with the kindest heart was moving in and I didn’t like it.
I am ashamed to admit that I even asked him . . . Slightly jokingly, but still . . . If married couples lived in separate houses. I know.
I can’t believe myself, and I am hanging my head in shame.
While I was a nightmare, Steven was a dream. He asked me every step of the way if he could hang a shirt here, put a computer there, put his shoes here, and would I mind if he put his cologne and deodorant in that drawer. He was so gentle and kind. He didn’t come in like a bull in a China shop disrupting my world. He came in gently, but I was shaken.
You see, part of me wanted Steven to move in and make my home his home . . . our home. A huge part of me wants to share a life with him. But the other side of me wanted to leave things just the way they were.
I had such a crummy attitude on a day that should have been so special. While I was short and quiet, Steven was gentle and kind. While I seemed annoyed at his every move, he remained patient and understanding.
I sat watching as he moved his massive computer onto my cute white desk, I had a sobering thought . . .
“Isn’t this how Christians treat the Lord when He takes up residence in the heart of man?”
Many Christians are happy with the perks that come with marriage to the Lord, but they don’t want the life with Him. They are content in knowing that when they ask Jesus into their hearts, they will go to heaven when they die. (John 3:16) They want Him to move into their lives, but only to the point that their world isn’t rocked. They essentially want the marriage, but want to live in separate houses. Of course, it just doesn’t work that way.
Many Christians want the blessing, but not The Blesser. They want the perks, but not The Provider. They want the benefits, but not union with The Beloved.
We want Him to move into our lives, our hearts, our thoughts . . . But only so much. We don’t want the Lord moving in to disrupt our way of life. We want Him to wave a magic wand of blessings, grace, mercy, peace, love, and joy . . . But we don’t want Him to convict us, rebuke us, or rearrange us to look more like Him.
As I watched Steven move his things into our home, I was reminded of all the times the Lord needed to rearrange me. I asked Him to come into my heart at five years old. I was baptized in the Holy Spirit in Kindergarten. I don’t remember a day when He wasn’t the first and the last in my life. But there have been times, I didn’t want Him to do the work that would make me more like Him. (Galatians 2:20)
“Erika, I don’t do that. I want Jesus to have all of me. I can’t relate to what your saying at all. I’ve given Him my whole heart.”
If that’s you, then you are a better person than most people I know. You are a better person than even the heroes of the Scriptures! I’d invite you into some conversations I’ve had with the Lord, and challenge you to think of the times when maybe you didn’t invite Him into everything . . .
* “But I’m supposed to be on BROADWAY! I am supposed to sing and dance and live a life on the stage! And you want me to be a MUSIC TEACHER! WHAT?” - 9th Grade Erika
* “But God, they are my best friends! I know they are weird and are into some crazy stuff, but they are my best friends in the whole wide world! How could you take them from me?” - High School Erika
* “Lord, please don’t take that relationship from me. He was my first love. We are supposed to get married. We made plans and I looooooovvvvveeee him!” - College Erika
* “Two miscarriages! What? Are you kidding me, Lord? You know those babies would have been dedicated back into Your hands! What are you thinking?” - Erika, 29
* “Compassion? Wait, you want me to show them Your love? They destroyed me. They broke my heart. They turned me into someone I don’t recognize with their evil schemes and deadly words and you want me to show them LOVE? I’m not you Lord. You’re going to have to do this one on your own.” - Erika, 37
These are just a few examples of my own times of wrestling with the Lord over the spaces in my heart. But you know what? I became a Music Teacher and I continue to use the education I learned to this very day, not only in homeschooling my son, but in how I teach, write, and share the Word with all of you. And I still sing, dance, act, and perform which the Lord knows I love dearly. He didn’t take away my Broadway dreams . . . He just rearranged them a bit.
Those “friends” in High School? Most of them became drug addicts and I found were only using me because they thought my parents had money. Of course, I didn’t know any of that when I befriended them . . . But God did. And even in my attitude of not wanting to give up my friends, He was protecting me from what I couldn’t see.
I discovered after a few years of a broken heart . . . Which did heal . . . That He had to take my first love away from me, because my first love was not meant to be my forever love. He wasn’t saved. He didn't want to know the Lord, and we’d be unequally yolked which wouldn’t align with God’s Word. (2 Corinthians. 6:14)
My two babies in Heaven . . . Some things you don’t ever find the answer to. And those go in the box that says, “Lord, I will never understand all of your ways, so this goes in the box of things I just don’t understand.” (Isaiah 55:8) And I am okay with that.
And compassion. Adult bullies are even worse than child or teen bullies. They are evil, mean, and full of hate. But I wouldn’t have the deepness of Christ’s compassion if it weren’t for them. I wouldn’t be able to love the unlovable among us. I wouldn’t be able to see the desperation of our culture and their deep need for Jesus. And I wouldn’t have three of the dearest friends in the world who walked through that time with me and sat around “The Hope Table” holding my hand.
You see, my friends, He doesn’t rearrange our lives without causing something new and beautiful to be born. (Isaiah 66:9)
So the question that needs to be asked . . . “Do you trust Him with your whole life?”
God, like Steven, doesn’t come into our hearts with a wrecking ball like a bull in a China shop. Steven didn’t impose his will on me when he moved into my home. He gently came in and loved me through it.
I know it sounds silly to you, but there are reasons from my past that made this day so difficult for me. Reasons that don’t fit the purpose of this article. But it was very difficult for me to see my world combine with his.
But Steven was gentle.
Jesus is gentle when He comes into our lives. Yes, He takes out things, relationships, people, attitudes, thoughts, and mind-sets that aren’t His, but He does so with love, patience, mercy, and grace.
I encourage you today, through my downfall and crummy attitude, to not be one of those Christians that only want Him on Sunday mornings. I urge you to share your life with Him . . . Your whole life.
If there is something that you’ve been holding onto that He wants, just let it go. I know it hurts. I know you thought it would be forever. I know you want it, but it isn’t God. Just let it go and let Him birth something even more beautiful inside of you.
I have seen this picture floating around the internet, but it is a powerful image of what the Lord does with us. When we give Him what we think is most precious to us, He comes back with something so, so, so much greater!
Steven is all moved in. His clothes hang in my closet. His computer is in my office. His Marine Corps flag and medals are about to be proudly displayed in our home . . .
And I am at peace.
My home is no longer mine. It is ours. And it feels even better than it did before. It feels, as my Asher says, "That we will live happily ever after".
I don’t just want the amazing benefits of a marriage with Steven. I want a life together. Just as I don’t just want the blessings from God. I want to be in an intimate relationship with The Blesser. I hope that is your prayer as well.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. How have you made space for God in your hearts?