Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: CLUE (09/06/18)
TITLE: A Marriage Mystery
By Linda Lawrence
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I would go to sleep asking God what Carl thought of our marriage. He wasn’t one to talk about how he felt so I didn’t have a clue except that he seemed comfortable being married.
We thought so differently. He was more inclined to analyze what was going on in the world, rather than what was going on in our relationship.
I saw Carl as being the tool God used to shape and refine me. It seemed marriage was the cross in my life. That is, if taking up our cross means to learn to follow Jesus by denying self, then marriage is a natural place for daily practice. From morning to night there are choices to make. Please me or please my spouse? Deny myself or deny my spouse?
Then a most extraordinary thing happened. I was wakened early one morning with a message in my head: If you want to know what Carl thought of marriage look in the novels he wrote. I was stunned. It was such a clear message. I laid in bed trying to remember. Carl had written books about the massacres in Rwanda, about a revolution in Chiapas, about the church in China, about a Swedish missionary — all journalistic reports. But he had also written two novels based on true events he didn’t think would be believed unless they were told as fiction. One of those novels was about a Cambodian family betrayed by the Khmer Rouge. Another was about a man in Mozambique separated from his wife while he attended Bible school in South Africa.
The first book was written a dozen years or so into our marriage. I couldn’t remember much about that book, so I rolled out of bed and tracked it down. I skimmed through it, looking for references to the marriage of Chea and Wife — this is how Chea referred to her. I laughed when I realized what Carl wrote about their courtship actually described ours! I hadn’t remembered that. As I read on I found more clues than I ever expected. Chea was a jeweler. In a moment of regret he realized he had thought of Wife as a tool to be used. But suddenly he saw God had given her to him as a gem to be cherished.
Oddly, I was the one thinking my husband was a tool in God’s hand. Yet Carl had often written on anniversary cards that I was God’s gift to him. I hadn’t actually believed the words; I just thought he was writing what he thought I’d like to hear. But suddenly I realized God was letting me know, the words were true and in Carl’s heart he had cherished me, even if I was unable to recognize or accept the signs.
I thought about the African novel, written as we approached our fiftieth anniversary, and recognized that it contained three strong marriages. In each one the husband depended on his wife’s strengths in order to fulfill his particular calling — three husbands who cherished their wife as a partner in ministry. I actually typed that book for Carl and thought at the time that the portrayal of the marriages was rather idealistic. But I wanted to know what Carl thought of marriage and God was showing skeptical me what I wanted, and needed, to know.
I was overwhelmed by the graciousness of God to gift me with those assurances of Carl’s satisfaction in our marriage. And I could see now how Carl had also been a gift to me, as well as the tool God used to turn me to Himself for my ultimate satisfaction.
And what is God’s perspective of our very imperfect marriage? Well, in His book I read this good news. Jesus gave up His life for us, to make us holy so He can present us to Himself. Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
I sleep well now, satisfied that God can solve the mystery of marriage.
Ephesians 4:16; 5:25-27
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