First Christmas…

A year ago today I was sitting right where I am sitting now… in a Starbucks in Stow, Ohio of all places.  Last year there was a snow storm brewing outside.  This year, a dreary, cold rain typical of this dreary, cold state.  Eh, I know I shouldn’t hate on Ohio.  My family is from Ohio.  More importantly my wife is from Ohio.  So this place gave me very good things.  Regardless, a place seemingly permanently domed by grey skies has an effect on your mood no matter how good your coffee is.

But I did not start this post to complain about Ohio.  I started it to reflect on the difference in my life from last Christmas.  Last Christmas I was just Gina’s fiancé.  This Christmas I am her husband.  Last Christmas her family still wasn’t entirely sure about me (it had to be my cabbie hats throwing them off).  This Christmas I am family.  Last Christmas God’s promise to me was gloriously within reach.  This Christmas His promise to me has been consummated into a gloriously God-exalting union.  I.  Love.  My.  Wife.

God did not fail me.  God held true to His Word.  God carried me through a very busy year.  God carried me through a wonderful, however challenging transition.  God gave me insight and wisdom.  God disciplined my bad behaviors.  God made His Word come alive to me.  God showed me a new facet of His endless beauty.  God stayed with me.  God continued saving me.  God exulted over me with singing.  God quieted me with His love.  God rejoiced over me with gladness.  God increased my joy.  What a good year it has been.

I know that I won’t be able to pause each year and say that the whole year has been very good.  I know that some years will be hard.  Some painful perhaps.  So until those years come, I will pause and rejoice in the goodness He has lavished on me through easy, comfortable joy.  I say “easy, comfortable joy” because the joy is always the goal – but the means to that end are not always the same.  If God gives me a wife this year, it is for my joy.  If God takes a wife away from me next year, it is for my joy.  Anything and everything He does, whether it brings pain or healing, is all for my joy in Him.  It is all for smelting the idols from my heart, and fine tuning my affections toward Him.  It is all for magnificently and perfectly showing me that my Ultimate Treasure is in Christ alone and in no mortal or created thing.

This Christmas I find myself a man so very different from the man I was at any other Christmas.  I spent all but one Christmas of my 20’s wandering the desert east of the Jordan River.  I have only myself to blame for the hardness of my heart and for the pride of my eyes.  I have only God to thank for hardening my heart and for allowing my eyes to be full of pride.  His penetrating omniscience prepared me throughout my painful 20’s for a lifetime of joy with my wife.  This is the first Christmas of my adult life wherein I feel complete and whole.  I am at peace.  I have a hope and a future.  I am not weary.  I am not toiling.  My life is very good.  And because I did walk through the pain and the toiling, and because I am now wholly at peace, I have changed.  There is something about the 40 desert years that perpetually and eternally increases the joy, the fruit, and the value of the Promised Land – the foretaste of the Edenic affiance.  Having now walked that road, having now tasted the reward, I would not change one day of my past however dark some of those days were.  I believe in the providence and sovereignty of God.  Therefore every day of my past was designed to align my path with Gina’s.

I have often imagined marriage like two puzzle pieces coming together.  The two pieces are uniquely cut so that they cannot fit with any other piece.  They could be forced to join another piece, but that causes some of the piece to bend, or squish, or tear, or break.  Or it can leave gaps and holes where the pieces do not touch.  I say that because I know.  For me, being unequally yoked goes far beyond doctrinal pillars.  The possibility exists that God has created a perfect mate for you, and wills that you should marry them, and yet gives you the choice to marry the wrong person.  And still, it was His will that you marry that wrong person.  Confusing to the human mind – perfectly God-honoring to the Divine mind.  When two puzzle pieces are forced together, they eventually are torn apart, or they eventually whither away.

But oh the joy of two pieces that were cut for each other.  And I use the word “cut” intentionally.  The process of the pieces being prepared for one another is the process of cutting.  Cutting hurts, initially.  But we shouldn’t forget that the doctor cuts first in order to heal.  After the cutting, the pieces are ready to be joined.  The joining brings great relief and great joy.  The world should pause in wonder at seeing two perfectly prepared pieces come together as one.  I believe that Gina and I were cut from the same material long ago, and have now been reunited.  And the longer I reflect on our joining together, the more I see how intricate our joining lines really are.  Michelangelo could not have crafted a more beautiful fit.

I am only five months in to discovering this new land.  I am just getting my first tastes of the fruits and the waters and the milk and the honey.  I am just learning the lay of the land.  I am trying to grasp the options available for where and when and how to establish a settlement.  I am quickly prepping defenses against the enemies I am sure have already been alerted to our presence.  Forget Star Wars, forget Lord of the Rings.  The real adventure is right before me.  See the picture now: Gina and I are dressed and packed for exploring.  We’re ready to go now.  The lush land of forests and mountains and meadows and rivers is before us.  Our friends and family are back at the Jordan, their celebration din now subsiding.  The Lord our God is with us, laughter and excitement beaming from His eyes.  Our hands are joined.  It’s time to journey…


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