Mark Batterson writes often of the inverted gospel. I am the poster child of that life, though I suspect I am not alone. I walked through life making my choices, seeking what I thought I needed to be happy, and if I could find those things on my own, then maybe I would ask God to come in and bless my life. Maybe then I would follow his path, however, I always had this nagging suspicion even when things were grand that it would never last as long as I led the way.
I will not pretend that I did not have my share of fun. I did. But somewhere along the way the down times grew deeper, and the ride was no longer worth the fall. Life became emptier with each excursion. Now a wise man when reaching this conclusion would have turned but I stubbornly held on because as bad as things got at times I still trusted my way more than God.
I sat in church yesterday with my wife Julie beside me. I reflected on her beauty, grace, the depth of heart that she possesses. I pursued love in my own vision and all of those times put together does not hold a candle to what I feel when she looks at me with clear eyes straight from her heart.
As stated many times before I was angry at God for most of my life. A minister would share how we are not worthy or don't feel worthy and I wanted to shout bull. I deserve the best of everything God. But I tell you when it comes to Julie I tell God he gave me way more than I ever deserved. Way more than I ever dreamed. She often tells me I taught her things and hopefully this is so but my wife taught me what real love is. There are not many lessons greater than that.
One thing we did as we were discovering each other that I know I did not always do and I bet many of you did not as well. Be honest with each other. Put all your cards on the table early. Let go of the fear that if I tell them who I really am they may not like me.I used the term deal breaker with Julie. Is this a deal breaker, or that deal breaker?
One thing I knew about Julie was I would never be first in her life. And for once I was glad of this in a relationship. I can't measure up to being someone's whole world. I will fail them and they will fail me.
Julie might have been attracted to me a few years ago but she would have stayed away from me and rightfully so. I needed to be a man seeking the kingdom first.
Julie was like a lot of us when we are alone. She would ask God where is the man for me? Once he responded to her that he was getting that man ready. But we don't want to wait do we? So we rush ahead, the inverted gospel at work. I want this relationship God and I want you to bless it... after I get it.
Maybe along this same time frame I remember praying one day. "God I do not want to be alone forever but if it is not someone that you approve of and will bless our path then I would rather remain alone because it will fail like every relationship has failed before." That was big for me because having that special relationship with someone who would treasure love the way I do was my hearts greatest desire.
I think at that moment God might have peered over the balcony of Heaven and spoke to those around him. "Aw, I have his attention. Let's go to work."
Yesterday after church we shared a laugh with Julie's parents, Don and Jan. A few years back Julie's mom one day in frustration was praying and asked God where is the man for my Julie? Lord, I don't care if he is in his 50's as long as he loves you and will love our daughter. Tell me God was not preparing all of us for what was coming.
This past Friday when we went to the movie, 'Son of God,' with Julie's parents. Jan introduced me to a couple she knew. "This is our son in law. Julie's husband, and we could not be happier." I don't know how you could not see God in the things that have transpired with Julie and I. I not only have a wonderful wife who treasures nearly every moment with me but I have a wonderful loving relationship with her parents. It is often me who says to Julie, "Call your parents and see if they want to meet us for..." I do this because I enjoy their company.I listen to the soft words of wisdom that often come from Julie's dad.
We all have our stuff don't we? One amazing thing that occurred with Julie and I as we were dating is not only were we falling in love and sharing the laughter of such an event. We helped heal each other of past hurts. We cried together as we learned we could trust each other. I mentioned my past failed relationships. Some that ended badly. One day as I was saying something else derived from past pain, Julie looked at me and said, "You keep sharing stuff as if this going to be the one thing that drives me out the door. I am not leaving." she stated, leaving no room for debate. I needed that.
You know what one thing God so graced me that I could give to his child that he so dearly loves? I am humbled and yet very proud that I was able to do this. I showed her how beautiful she is. She did not know. Often in those early days if I was to say something like that she would drop her head. I would lift her chin gently and say, "Julie I need you to hear me."
Very soon it will be one year since we were married. It has been the best time of my life. Thank you God. I have no words to truly express my gratitude.