Tuesday, September 15, 2009

20 yEARS

On Saturday, September 12th we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. Seeing that little factoid in print is very surreal. On the one hand it feels like it was only last week when we visited the Justice of the Peace and vowed *in sickness & in health; for poorer or for richer; in good times and in bad;* and on the other hand it seems like 100 years and many lifetimes have passed in between.

I asked Dustin a question I was asked by a friend:  What does 20 years mean to you? He replied that it showed we are committed (no, not that we should be committed!) He paused and then continued, "And that we're not quitters." I thought this was a good answer.

We decided to get married after 3 weeks together (or so) and then, around 5-6 weeks we discovered we were expecting a baby. For both of us this meant that the December nuptuials we'd been planning would need to be sooner. It was intended to be a very small ceremony anyway, so it wasn't a huge inconvenience to move things up. The thing is, our friends all said they'd be surprised if we lasted 6 months! I'm sure our mothers thought the same! But God is so good! By His grace He has proved them all wrong! Of the several couples we knew that got married in the 2 years before and the 2 years after us, we are one of very few who made it this far!

I love that so many people believe that God only works in the lives of the "holiest" people; that for those living in sin (which the world defines as *having no fun*) God has no interest. God's attendance to a life is reserved for the Pope, Billy Graham, and Mother Theresa. This is what I believed anyway. But, there is nothing Scriptural about this sentiment! Dustin & I met at a bar - the very last place I would ever suspect God to be moving. Thankfully He was that night in May 1989. God even does miracles in bars. As the joke goes, "I may not have been there to see Jesus turn the water into wine, but I have no doubts about living for Him. You see, it's because at my house He turned beer into furniture."

I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior on November 1, 1991. I didn't truly understood clearly what it meant to *live for Christ* until a few years later, though. But, as God revealed Himself to me, I began to make choices that reflected His presence within me.One of the things I especially loved was that as I read my Bible I discovered that the Heroes of Faith I'd heard about for my entire childhood were flawed: pride, lust, murder, envy, lies, prostitution, swindling & cheating. In short, they were all disobedient to God at some point in their lives. They were human! They were like me... I cansee my shortcomings and flaws in the lives of these mighty Biblical people. Yet, even though some did things society considers rank, GOD USED THEM. He used them because they loved Him, because they had experienced His grace and wanted to be a part of God's divine story. They knew that, in spite of their sins - and for some it was many - God would use their willing hearts regardless of their infirmities and character flaws. Moses - the one who delivered a nation of approximately 6 million people from slavery and oppression - stuttered. Rahab - a descendant in the geneology of Christ - was a prostitute. David - the man God Himself declared was a man after His own heart - committed adultery and murder. The Apostle Paul persecuted and killed Christians before his conversion and went on, through the indwelling and guidance of the Holy Spirit, to write the bulk of the New Testament. Peter was impulsive - he cut off a man's ear! And, theologians say, Saint Peter and Saint Paul didn't even like each other! But God used them all.

So, twenty years later, this is my desire: to have a part in God's work in bringing people to know Him. I think I'm a perfect candidate. I've been very, very far from God at times in my life. I've sinned. I've fallen short of what God wants from me. I've repented. I love the King of kings, Lord of lords, the Everlasting King and Prince of Peace. He is my Alpha and Omega; my beginning and end. I've bathed in the torrent of His grace and forgiveness. This all means little, though. The broken young woman who met the lost young man 20 years ago in a crowded, smoky bar - both a little drunk - these flawed human beings know what it means, what it feels like to BE loved by their Creator. I am still so humbled that He calls me His beloved child. Yes, I have the qualifications and the desire to be used by God...

So, what does twenty years mean to me?

It means forgiveness, grace, mercy, love, healing, joy, perseverance, peace, purpose... and so much more that is unfathomable to this flawed human mind.

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