With the relative anonymity we have as bloggers, I can write this without feeling like I am bragging (too much anyway!) You see, several friends of mine, both close friends and those who have not even known us for very long, have commented about what a wonderful marriage my husband and I have. I have to agree with every one of them. You see, my husband and I both came from somewhat sketchy backgrounds with a LOT of baggage. Some of it was self-imposed and some was a result of things that have been visited upon us without our consent or desire. Either way, junk is junk…and we both had a lot of it. So much so that the greatest compliment of our lives is when someone finds out about something in our past and says “oh my gosh, I would never have believed that about you!” Thank you, Jesus, for making that possible!
Anyway, the reason I say that is to say this: I think that after all we’ve both been through and amazingly survived, I feel that God has put something very special into our marriage to make up for those years we both were going through so much junk. One of my favorite and most applicable bible verses comes from the tiny little book of the prophet Joel, in 2:25 where God says: “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…” Its a weird verse to quote when talking about what a great marriage God has given us, but let me put it into perspective if you’ve never read the book of Joel. The prophet is bursting out with lament for what has just happened. God has allowed His people to suffer the most devastating plague in all of history: an enormous swarm of locusts. These locusts came upon the land and basically ate everything in site, so that there were no crops left to speak of. With this being an agrarian culture, of course they could not just go down to Kroger’s and buy some more food. That was it. With every crop in the land ruined, the people were staring down the barrel of sure starvation. This wasn’t just a problem for what they were going to eat for dinner that night. It would take years to plant, grow, and harvest brand new crops. What’s more, they could not give offerings from their harvests as they were required to do in order to make themselves right with the Lord. This was a BIG problem. But they had long since turned to other idols, prostituted themselves out for the most base of things, exchanging the incredible relationship they had with the God of the universe for a lesser way of life, to say the least. And so here we are in the book of Joel, reading this tongue-lashing from the prophet, telling all of Israel how they had messed up and how they should be distraught! He goes on to tell them not to “rend their clothing” (an outward sign of mourning) but to “rend their hearts” and return to the Lord. You see, God didn’t (and doesn’t) want fake, religious-looking worship or offerings…He wanted HIS people to have their hearts torn in two when they looked at themselves and saw how they had really turned from Him. So he tells the people, after recounting all that they were suffering through because of their terrible choices:
Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.
Who knows? He may turn and have pity
and leave behind a blessing—
grain offerings and drink offerings
for the LORD your God.
Then God responds with these promises:
I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm
my great army that I sent among you.
You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the LORD your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.
Then you will know that I am in Israel,
that I am the LORD your God,
and that there is no other;
never again will my people be shamed.
Ever since I first read this tiny little book of the bible years ago, I knew it was speaking right to me…right into my life. God was telling me that all those years before I found Him were not a waste. He was working, even then, on repaying me for the years that I was allowing to be eaten up by other, much lesser, things. So before I can start relating the story of how my wonderful marriage came to be, and what the keys are to keeping it that way, anyone who is interested in that must know that my marriage (and most likely yours too) is more than just a partnership. Its more than just a legal formality. Its even more than a great love. Its a real life illustration of redemption and repayment, just as God promised.
In part 2 I promise to get to the how-everything-happened-and-how-its-so-great and all that stuff. Stick with me.