Dear Fellow Children of God,
In my first year as pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in St. Louis, MO, Harold and Wilma Knedel were among the members of our congregation. They lived in St. Louis County and St. Paul was in the deep inner city, but Harold and Wilma loved their church and cared for their pastor. When the temperatures climbed into the humid hundreds, they bought Kathy and I a room air conditioner for the brick parsonage in which we lived that had no insulation in the walls.
Then Wilma became sick and entered the hospital for a heart by-pass operation. The doctors expected a full recovery. But in 1980 medical science was not what it is today, and Wilma’s heart was in worse shape than the doctors realized. Wilma died on the operating table. I still remember the horrible grief and loss, the shock and bitter tears, that Harold experienced and shared with me. They had been married 35 years and Wilma was Harold’s best friend, his wife. In 1980 I had been married 3 years and remember thinking that 35 years was really a pretty long time. I now better understand Harold’s love for Wilma, his loss, and his lost-ness at Wilma’s death. Tonight as I write this, Thursday, August 20, is the 38th anniversary of when Kathy and I were married. We celebrated with an anniversary dinner.
But, in our modern, affluent culture, it seems that love and marriage can be rare. There are so many heart-aches, so much pain, and there is so much divorce. I’m convinced that many people live together outside of God’s plan for marriage because they see so much failure and brokenness in marriages that they don’t want to experience this pain themselves.
God’s creation plan for marriage is found in Genesis 2, especially verse 24. In creation God describes marriage in the following way.
“22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman, 'for she was taken out of man." 24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. 25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
God’s plan for marriage is one-ness that blesses the husband and the wife, and all those around them. This one-ness is shown when a couple share dreams and fears, love and loss, troubles and joy, trusting in the promises and mercy of God. God’s love in creation, and the love of God in Jesus, is the source of the love that Harold and Wilma knew, and that others still know today.
I gave Kathy a card and some flowers on Wednesday night. On Thursday morning I found a card on the breakfast table from Kathy. I hesitated sharing this for various reasons. But, I share Kathy’s words because I want people to know that God’s love still works in marriages and families. Kathy’s words brought tears to my eyes.
“Your love for me has made me such a better person than I ever would have been without you, and we are better together than we were when we started. Thank you for loving God, and me, and our family the way you do.”
We are not perfect, but God is. Genesis 2:24 may talk about God’s plan for marriage in the beginning, but in Ephesians 5:31 God also uses these very same words to describe the forgiving and saving love of Jesus for His church, His people. God cares for us and He still takes imperfect people and grows love in marriage, love that blesses those around the married couple. Love in marriage may be a miracle, but it still happens regularly even today, because God continues to love His people in Jesus.
A Child of God, Thankful for my wife and for God’s gift of Marriage,
P.S. Here are a few pictures that I cherish. https://picasaweb.google.com/114993745799525883148/GodSLoveInMarriageAugust201977And2015#
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am always adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you don’t want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.