My wife and I recently celebrated our 18th anniversary. All those years ago, we would have never imagined what our life looks now. We didn’t set out to have a bunch of kids. We never had a goal to raise five children. We didn’t talk about adoption before we married, but here we are, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
When you’re standing at the front of the church in your tuxedo on your wedding day, you can’t imagine all that’s ahead. If I had known then what I know now, I probably would have chickened out and bolted from the ceremony.
If you had told me on our wedding day that my backyard would one day have a deck, a grill, a geodesic play dome, a sand box, a zip line (with a deer stand), a tree house, a fire pit, a trampoline, a ninja rope, a slack line, a fire pit, a baseball pitch back and a tree swing, I would have rolled my eyes at you.
If you had told me that I would one day take all my vacation days so I could stay at home with the family, I would have wondered what you were talking about.
If you had told me that eventually we would have some boys I would love more than life itself, I would have questioned you.
If you had told me that I would one day be primarily concerned that my boys would see their dad love their mother well, I would have had a hard time imagining that.
If you had told me that I would one day be more concerned about the health of my family than the wealth of my family, I would have secretly questioned you.
Just the other day, my four-year-old asked me if I was old. I said, “No, Daddy’s young.” He then said, “Granddad’s old.” I said, well he’s older than mom and dad. He said, “Granny’s old.” (Granny was Grandad’s mom.) I said, “Remember, Granny died and went to heaven.” He said, “Oh yeah, Granddad’s old then.” If you had told me that this would be one of the best conversations I would ever have, I would have smirked at you.
We didn’t talk about adoption before we married, but here we are, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
If you had told me that Amy and I would one day celebrate our anniversary at Oakfield Baseball Complex watching a four-year-old tee-ball game and a 13-year-old baseball game, I would have said, “Probably not.” But we did, and we wouldn’t have had it any other way.
If you had told me that my relationship with my wife would one day be even better, deeper and richer than it was on the day we married, I would not have believed you.
If you had told me that in years to come I would grow in grace and realize more about the truth of the gospel and Christ’s love for the church, I could not have anticipated it.
On my wedding day, I would have nodded affirmatively to the truth that marriage is God’s design. I’ve read Genesis 2:24 hundreds of times: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” But there is a big difference between intellectual assent and personal experience. Years of marriage, with all the ups and downs, have confirmed to me that this whole thing is not about us. It’s about God and his design.
On my wedding day, I would have nodded affirmatively to the truth that marriage is a witness to a watching world. Back in 1999, I was excited about Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” But I have learned that there is a big difference between excitement and commitment. When the world looks at a man trying to love his wife as Christ loved the church, they scrunch their eyebrows and scratch their heads. Marriage has shown me that it’s about God and our witness before him.
On my wedding day, I would have nodded affirmatively to the truth that marriage is a tool for personal sanctification, but I didn’t realize that God would use our marriage like he has to shape me more into the image of Christ. We have a special yearly emphasis at the University where I work entitled “Faith in Practice.” Nowhere has my faith been put into practice like in my own home. Marriage has certainly been used of God to cause the fruit of the Spirit to grow more heartily in this sinner. I have a long way to go, but because of my marriage, I am more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled. Hebrews 12:14 says, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” Few things have had as much positive impact on my striving for holiness like my relationship with my wife. Indeed, marriage has shown me that it’s about God’s working of sanctification in me.
On my wedding day, I would have nodded affirmatively to the truth that marriage is a platform for God’s glory. God’s design is marriage, and his desire is his own glory. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). When a man and a woman live their lives to glorify God in all things, God’s desire is fulfilled, a couple’s joy is multiplied and a watching world takes notice. I have learned that the happiest couples are ones who say, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness” (Psa. 115:1).
If you had told me on my wedding day that through the institution of marriage I would know God, live for him, witness to him and serve him in an even greater way, I could not have imagined. It really is true, though. As I look through the wedding album this year and see all those pictures of us and our families and friends, I realize that our marriage never has been about us. It’s always been about our faithful God.