Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It’s Amazing What God Can Do (Happy Anniversary, Chuck)

There was a beautiful sunset on the horizon as I walked the red clay shore of a lake in East Texas. A lady, a stranger and fellow camper at the park, sat in her camping chair. “Lord, please give me opportunities to meet people and minister while I’m here,” I thought. “Give me words.”  So it started with the simplest thing: “Beautiful sunset, isn’t it?”  Her response: “It’s amazing what God can do.”

And it’s amazing what God did in the span of a few days on that camping trip.  I had a lot on my mind, and this getaway with family was just what I needed to process the events unfolding.  I had been friends with Chuck Thier for over 2 years. In that time, I’d analyzed him from every angle. How did he relate to his family? How did he control his temper? Did he have integrity? Did he live by his convictions? He didn’t know it, but he was passing all my tests with flying colors. We were merely friends, and I had worked hard at times to keep it that way.  But recently, he’d done something unexpected. He’d held my hand. I knew this friendship was progressing into something more. Confrontation was coming.  Was I ready? 

You see, I’d developed a litmus test for relationships. Could I marry this man? If the answer was “No” or “Maybe someday?” then I promised myself I wouldn’t date him. Why risk your heart unnecessarily? It’d be easier to be friends.  It was a safe plan, fully rational in my mind.  Could I marry this man?  Well, now the answer was “Yes” which was both exhilarating and terrifying.  But the real question to me was “Could I marry?” That’s where it got uncomfortable.  My grandparents had gone through divorces. My parents had gone through divorces. Who was I to think I could have a successful marriage? My confidence wavered as I considered the opportunity that lay before me. Surely God wasn’t calling me to this. 

That’s where the lady on the shore came in. We began talking about our shared faith. We spent the next few days discussing so much from the Bible and our own lives. She told me how her husband had left her and their children after 14 years of marriage for another woman.  “There it is!” I thought. “God’s sign that I need to run.away.right.now!  If this lady couldn’t manage, how could I?” I shared with her my conundrum.  Her response changed my life.

“Is your Chuck a Christian? Well, then, Honey, he’s gonna love you like Christ loves the Church.”

Like a two-by-four between the eyes, conviction hit me.  And my vision suddenly became much clearer.  Ephesians 5 is what she was referencing. It instructs men to love their wives as Jesus loved the Church, “and gave Himself up for her.” The  Bible says that marriage is meant to be a picture of Christ’s love for His people. No one has sacrificed as much as Jesus for those whom they love.  If God was calling us to marry, God was calling Chuck to take care of me sacrificially. And not only was he to have this great responsibility, but God Himself cared that it be good, because it is a picture of Jesus and His love for us.  This wasn’t meant to be something we pull off in our own strength.  This was much bigger than that.

Suddenly, “Could I marry?” became “Could I trust God to do this? To carry me through, into this new territory? Where I have no wisdom and no experience?”  And I knew the answer to that. You bet I could!

I returned home, and we began dating.  It seemed a bit silly, since we knew each other so well already. And while it caught me off guard when Chuck proposed a mere two weeks later, I knew the matter had already been settled.  Could I marry this man? You bet I could!

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I write all this in retrospect.  Next week we celebrate 15 years of marriage.  And if I had known it’d be this good, I wouldn’t have been fearful.  If you would’ve told me that we wouldn’t have a single yelling-match in 15 years, I wouldn’t have believed you.  I’ve watched Chuck sacrifice his plans, his desires, and his dreams for what’s best for me and our boys.  Did I mention that he washed my feet during our wedding ceremony, to demonstrate that he would use his leadership to serve me? 

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God has given us the tools we needed to walk in life together. God gave Chuck the patience to learn how to relate and care for me. And He’s done the same for me. I’m not naive, I know that at any moment one of us could walk away from God and everything He’s built here. But that wouldn’t diminish the fact that He’s already given me way more than I could have imagined. And most of all, He gave me hope, strength, and faith that day that He could be trusted. And He’s been faithful to us ever since.

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I’m so thankful for the times that God ministers to me when I’m not expecting it. Especially through the lady on the shore. She was absolutely right, It’s amazing what God can do.

6 comments:

Mary McMillan said...

OH Baby ... Congrats on the 15 .. wow .. can't believe I forgot it :( I'm sorry .. Happy Anniversary .. I loved this blog.. I think MORE than ANY in the past .. You 2 give me HOPE :) thank YOU .. LOVE YOU

Anonymous said...

Wow! I knew you were special! Now I know why!! Thank you fir sharing with us
Marilyn Canady

grandmaw Babin said...

God is always faithful and I am so glad you've found Him trustworthy too. What a great love story.Many more great years to you and Chuck.

Rhonda Mathews said...

I love how God works in our lives.. He put two beautiful souls together. and look what has come out of this union.. You have a beautiful family and you are such a beautiful woman of faith.. I love you Angie ...

Veronica Hughes said...

Love you guys! Congrats!

Gabi said...

Beautiful post, Angie!