Wedding Anniversary Reflections

Daniel and Sarah Wedding Vows

Today would have marked five years of blessed marriage to Sarah, but she is now in eternity as the bride of Christ! I spent most of today in devotions, meditation, and reflection on my marriage with Sarah, and I have so much to be grateful for as I recall the joys and trials alike. I have innumerable cherished memories as I recall the depths of love we shared. She was a daily gift from God to me. Her life and death have left an indelible impact on me, so I pray that this continuing dose of searing eternal reality will forever stay with me to spur me on for what God has next.

I am eternally grateful for the way that Sarah built me up in Christ. Her sweet spirit, gentle encouragements, soft suggestions, and fervent prayers on my behalf were grounded in a selfless love and authentic respect. When I felt weak, her faith in me made me strong. When I failed her, her kindness forgave and overlooked it. Every one of my accomplishments was enabled by her girding me up every step of the way. In countless ways her impact lives on!

One of the many beautiful crafts that Sarah made was a framed picture of our marriage vows. As I spent time reading over them again today and thinking over their meaning on both the earthly and heavenly realms, I was struck by the simplicity of how only thirty-four straightforward words convey an eternal weight of meaning. I was talking recently with a friend who also lost his wife, and he remarked how we truly don’t fully know the depth of what those marriage vows meant. Indeed, when Sarah and I recited these vows on that day, we never could have known everything that would transpire turning what we hoped would be a lifetime of living them out into only five years together. What we did do at our wedding though was to promise them in faith knowing that God’s grace would sustain us to keep them. I’ve written before of God’s faithfulness in helping to grow and strengthen that faith through many trials, and by His infinite and boundless grace we lived out our vows for as long as we both lived. In a day in which marriage vows are often so lightly esteemed, may Christians’ lives and marriages reflect what Jesus said in Mark 10:9, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

For those that are married, may I offer some reflections. Treasure your spouse. Outdo one another in showing love. Selflessly sacrifice yourself to serve your spouse. Yet, also remember they are but a gift from God for this brief “mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 1:14) Live with eternity in mind. Husbands, lovingly shepherd your wife’s heart that you may both set your “mind on things above.” (Col. 3:2) Wives, build up your husbands in love and respect to be that man.

For those not married, live out these same principles to those God has put in your life. If your desire is to be married, be intentional now about developing those characteristics in your life. Be intentional to “make the best use of the time” (Eph. 5:16), for when marriage comes your sin and selfishness now have a double impact on you and your spouse.

“Being married in the moment of death is both a bitter and sweet providence. Sweet because at the precipice of eternity the air is crystal-clear, and you see more plainly than ever the precious things that really matter about your imperfect lover. But being married at death is also bitter, because the suffering is doubled as one watches the other die …. The shadow of covenant-keeping between husband and wife gives way to the reality of covenant-keeping between Christ and His glorified Church. Nothing is lost. The music of every pleasure is transposed into an infinitely higher key.” – John Piper in “This Momentary Marriage”

“Marriage is more than your love for each other …. In your love you see only the heaven of your happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal — it is a status, and office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the King, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Living and Dying in Light of Eternity

Daniel and Sarah

Sarah is still reminding us of what living and then dying can look like when rooted and grounded in the eternal realities of God’s Word!  She wrote the following back in the fall of 2016 as fears about Ebola raged.

As what would have been our five year anniversary approaches this Friday, I’m so thankful that I had the privilege and joy to see her live this approach out while daily battling many trials. Though she is gone, her impact lives on in each life she touched. May God stir up this same faith in us!

I both understand and empathize with why people are so concerned, so *please* don’t take this as me trying to admonish anyone. With that being said…

I’m just not worried about Ebola and I’ve been asking myself why?

Maybe it’s because I’ve had cancer. Maybe it’s because I went through a very serious and dangerous post op hemorrhage. Maybe it’s because I had a severe colon infection that caused a dangerous fever, put me into hypovolemic shock, and landed me in the hospital for a week. I can’t remember it of course, but when I was a 1 day old newborn I developed a blood clot in one of my kidneys and came very close death. So from early on, God was creating this “theme” in my life….I understand it’s a unique perspective that not everyone shares.

I can tell you this – my lack of worry does not stem from thinking it cannot happen to me. Going through serious health issues has made me fully aware that it *can* happen to me.

God has spared my life many times. I’ve learned empirically that life and death are truly in His hands. As Christians we somewhat casually express that truth from time to time, but I think it’s a truth we ought to handle more thoughtfully. By His grace alone, He has taught me that living in fear of what might happen next is not helpful to me, and much worse, it’s dishonoring to Him. Does that mean I never struggle? Of course not. But when I do, I have to choose to renew my mind in the word of God and turn away from thoughts that rob me of peace and hinder me from looking to Christ as my source of joy and strength.

I love my life! But if God wants to call me home to Heaven, I am OK with that. I am actually more than OK with it! I desire to be with my Savior, but I trust in His perfect timing, and until that time, I rejoice in this life on earth – though there are many trials and burdens we all must face – I know I do not face them alone.

If you’re reading this and thinking “wow! how can you not be scared of death?” — the reason is my Savior. The peace of salvation, in Jesus Christ, is available to you. If you have questions, please feel free to send me a message. I’d love to share with you what Christ has done in my heart and life.

See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand. Deuteronomy 32:39

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27

But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city. Hebrews 11:16

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind. Job 12:10

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith. Romans 3:23-25