It was a few more years of learning what God meant by the impromptu wedding scene in that isolated little chapel in the jungles of Indonesia, before I entered into a covenant of marriage with my now husband, Bryce.
Marriage is one of the most tangible covenant relationships we have the opportunity to enter into. It has the potential to be one of the most exciting, or brutal promises a person can make on this earth. Hopefully its exciting at least at first. Mine was. After living in Australia for 3 years and traveling from there to Indonesia and Taiwan several times, I had come home from Australia a completely different person from the person who’d left the states. I felt ready to commit my life to one man, to settle down and dream with him, buys a house and raise children, “until death do we part.”
Yet, the first several year of marriage were nothing like I’d envisioned. Nothing went the way I’d dreamed it would. It felt like everything was a fight, or ended in one. Even on our honeymoon, we had a fight that was so intense I ended up walking out of our cruise ship suite in tears. My new husband ran after me, concerned that I might try to jump off the ship. That made me laugh, and we got over it, but that was a foreshadowing of the years ahead of us.
In the darkest days things were so bad I didn’t know what else to do but leave. We had three children, and had walked through the death of a parent, unemployment, a cheating boss and underemployment. We were at the lowest point of our relationship and I had actually told Bryce, “if you don’t get help by the end of the week the kids and I won’t be here when you get home from work.” He got help, but then I felt even more trapped.
I’d told my children I was going on a trip to rest and that I’d be back home in 5 days, I reassured them I wasn’t leaving them. I told my husband if I did’t leave for five days, I would leave him. Bryce reluctantly agreed I should go.
It was in these five days that God got ahold of me again. I’d been clinging to Him, I thought, but it was more the idea of Him, the hope of His presence with me, more than it was actually Him. And in those five days He dealt with me, face to face, as once can be with an infinite holy being. He took me back to that day on the hill, the hot drippy sun and the chapel. The dance between Him and I with the audience of brown eyes watching through the open windows. To that day I said yes to the covenant proposal He offered me.
“Child, you said yes. And I believe you mean yes. Right now is when that yes matters most. Your covenant with your husband isn’t about just him. It is founded on your covenant with Me. Beloved, do you understand what a covenant is? ”
We spent hours each day walking on the beach, Holy Spirit and I. To the casual on-looker, I was the crazy lady talking animatedly to myself. But in reality, I was in the depths of heart to heart wrestling matches for understanding covenant in the context of my marriage. At night, He’d speak to me some more, leading me through my Bible to uncover covenant.
“Beloved, covenant puts your marriage as a greater priority than you as an individual. Your marriage covenant is based in your covenant with Me. And it means that when love is the last thing you want to do, you do it all the harder. When kindness is the last thing you want to show, you display it all the more eagerly. When patience is the last thing you want to have, you seek it out with every fiber of your being. When mercy is far from you, you go out of your way to possess it and distribute it. When you aren’t getting your way, you yield your rights to have your own opinions and values honored and you honor the opinions and values of your spouse. Understand, Beloved, I say yield. To put your insistence of being seen and heard aside for a time in order to see and hear the opinions and values of the one you have made covenant with. To receive them without expectation that they will receive yours. In all these things, you will honor Me and I will make everything right. This is all possible only through starting with forgiveness.”