Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Far Side

Recently Christy was arranging books into a bookshelf we finally got for our bedroom after 13 years of marriage. My side of the bed no longer looks like the aftermath of a Christian bookstore explosion! But as I was glancing across the shelf at some of the books from a box or two that went back early on in our marriage I was reminded of just how different Christy and I really are.

Here’s what I saw and laughed out loud…

Yes, Gary Larson artist and author of the now retired Far Side comics spooning with Emily Post and her Book of Etiquette right there on the shelf in front of me! I seriously did laugh out loud. I’ll let you guess which book is Christy’s and which is mine.

I thought WOW, God had to have been setting up in heaven, needed a little entertainment and said to himself, “I’ll match these two up and see what happens!” Reminded me of what we used to do in college to the freshmen during enrollment when I was Resident Assistant in the dorms. I’m completely guilty and slightly remorseful for taking freshman that didn’t have a roommate and matching with someone “interesting”, like placing students with their former high school rivals or putting together someone from a big city with someone very country, maybe even a “polo” with a “goth” once. Then we’d stand back and watch our own little personal sociology experiment unfold! OKAY, you can quit judging me NOW! That was back in the day when I wasn’t so close to God…and I won’t tell you that right now I’m finding some humor in remembering some of their faces and the stories that followed when they came down to request a different roommate! God’s grace is BIG, I’m forgiven quit judging me!

Anyway, back to me and Christy, I know God has gotten a good deal of entertainment from watching us figure each other out over the years. I on the other hand, haven’t been as excited about some of the stumbling blocks in our marriage and there were times in first few years that I was ready to go to the front desk of the dorm and request a different roommate…truth be known, Christy had the right to visit the front desk way more than me. The night of July 4th 2001 comes to mind.

That was the night that I came home from a party and became fully engaged in a multitasking exercise that had me with one foot on the floor making my best attempt to stop the room from spinning, as I held down the couch I had not so nicely been asked to sleep on, all while making a last ditch plea to convince my eight month pregnant wife not to go across town to stay with her parents. I think her parting words, in the kindest way possible, went something like, “…and make sure you repaint that wall that you threw-up all over last night!” At this point Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” was far far from my mind.

Today as a pastor, that’s one of the most transparent stories I can can give you about my marriage and my life before I drew close to God. Honestly, I had no intention of telling that story when I started this post it’s just where the Holy Spirit led me. I think it’s important as church leaders that we share our flawed pasts as well as our future mess ups. Church leaders are not called to the ministry because they are perfect; we are called to the ministry because God can show his power by using us through our past and in spite of our flaws.

God was disappointed in the condition I allowed myself to get into that night, but he rejoiced in the fact that Christy didn’t give up on me when it would have been very easy for her to, because this wasn’t the first time this had happened, but it was the last. That next day I made a promise to her that she’d never see me in a drunken stupor again. And she has not!

I'm confident God has enjoyed watching us stick it out together knowing we had nothing in common other than the first time I laid eyes on her she had me hooked, and when she saw me…well, I don’t know what she saw in me. It’s excites me now to look back and see what He had in mind for us all along. Now we can see the fulfillment of Jeremiah 29:11. Maybe fulfillment is the wrong word because it seems so final. I’m convinced there’s so much more that lies ahead of Christy and I. Like the line from Jesus Culture song Come Away that we sang at church last week, "I have a plan for you - It's gonna be great - It's gonna be wild - It's gonna be full of Me"

If you would have told me that night as I laid alone on the couch that Christy would still be with me after 13 year, we’d have two awesome boys, I’d be the missions outreach pastor of a thriving church, we’d be adopting a girl from Ghana and my sometimes beloved beagle Missy would still be sleeping on my back porch…well, first I may have puked on your shoes, then I would have said you were crazy! Listen to me now when I tell you God has a plan for your marriage and your life! For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

To be married to someone completely opposite means I get to learn something new everyday. But even better, to be married to someone completely opposite means she sees potential in me even when I can’t. Not a bad team, not bad at all!

I’ll close with couple Gary Larson classics, enjoy! Sorry, I don’t have any favs from the Emily Post book, just sayin’!