Love Your Wife

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25).

I have asked many men over the years if they loved their wife enough to die for her. Christ was our example and we are to love our wives in the same way. Most dads have quickly replied, “Yes I would.” Certainly, I have placed myself in that category.

The next question is usually more difficult to answer. Would you wash dishes every evening (or some other task you might not care to do) for the rest of your married life? That is where we often take longer to answer. Again, I’ve proudly thought to myself, “Yes, I’d gladly do that for my wife.” God recently provided me with an opportunity to see just how deep my commitment was.

Teri, the four little ones, and I were at Wal-Mart early on a Saturday evening while the older ones were with Grandma and Grandad. We finished shopping and had just returned to the car when the familiar refrain of, “I’ve got to go potty,” was heard. After making sure it was a serious, high-priority request, I was to be the one to return to the store with the little one and take care of the matter.

I gave the keys to Teri so she could get the others settled while I was taking the child and cart back in the store. Teri unlocked the van, tossed the keys on the seat and turned to pick a little one up. Just then the door swung closed, and she realized she had pushed the power lock button instead of unlock! She looked at me with the most innocent expression and said the keys were locked inside.

At that moment, I had one of those rare opportunities to prove how much I loved Teri and that she was more important than circumstances. My unbelief was quickly replaced with anger. Of course, I retained my outward composure, but inside I was a very unhappy camper.

How Teri needed me to put my arm around her and tell her it was okay. I failed! I asked her to go inside and wait while I tried to get in. I figured I wasn’t very creative if I couldn’t get in the car with a whole store of resources at my disposal. But God had a lesson for me. Fifteen dollars later, I knew it was hopeless.

By the way, have you ever noticed how people snicker in a parking lot when they see someone trying to get into their locked vehicle? I deserved it and more. I even tried to be a little spiritual and thank God for the situation.

However, I really didn’t mean it, and so back in the store I went to sit with Teri and the children until her parents came to rescue us. Notice, I wasn’t blaming myself for not having hidden another key or carrying one in my wallet. I was feeling sorry for myself.

For the rest of my life I will deeply grieve every time I remember that day. How easy it is to prove our wives and families actually aren’t first in our lives and how difficult it is to demonstrate true love.

As we begin the new school year, we will have many, if not daily, opportunities to put our families first. When we come home we can spend time with our wives, see how their day went, and how we can support and encourage them. We can take the time to have the children show us their work and tell us what they learned. We can deal with the character issues that surfaced and need to be addressed. The list goes on and on.

Hopefully, you will not fail like I did. I know I’m praying that I will set my priorities properly and be the loving husband and dad that my Lord Jesus Christ would have me to be.

Children and Family Planning

As I write this Mom’s Corner I am celebrating my 40th birthday! Birthdays have a way of causing us to reflect on life, and my heart has been filled with joy for my family today. I can’t help but think about how few women, at the age of 40, have the privilege of nursing a baby and delighting in an adult son too.

Had God not changed Steve’s and my heart regarding children and family planning I would have held my last baby in my arms 13 years ago. Joseph, John, Anna, and Jesse would not have been given life, and my nest would quickly be emptying. As we evaluate these past seven years of our lives, Steve and I believe that there is nothing we could have invested our lives in that would have had any more value.

After we surgically cut off the possibility of having more children for seven years, God showed us, from His Word, that closing the womb or opening it was His domain and could be trusted to Him in faith. We knew there was a great probability, even with reversing the original procedure, that we might not have more children.

With the realization of how dependent Steve and I were on the Lord for His gift of children came very different feelings in our hearts about our children. With our first three, having children was the thing to do–taken for granted–the norm for a young married couple. But with the last four we have known it was not a matter of our will that they were conceived but God’s, and we have had the pleasure that comes to hearts that choose obedience to God’s will.

What about those seven empty years, the gap between older children and younger ones, in our family? Did God have children for us that we refused? We think about that question from time to time and for me it usually brings tears.

What did God use to change our hearts and thinking in this area? He used His Word. Scriptures like: “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD . . . Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them. . .” (Psalms 127:3, 5), “And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren” (Genesis 29:31), “. . . but the LORD had shut up her womb” (1 Samuel 1:5), “. . . Be fruitful, and multiply. . .” (Genesis 1:28). Steve, home sick one day, got out his concordance and began a study on God’s view of children that both broke and changed his heart. Malachi 2:15 clearly sums up God’s purpose for marriage.

I share this part of our lives because my heart is so full of joy in my family. We wish someone had confronted us with this idea before we made our decision to cut off having children, challenging us to search the Bible for its truth in this area. We might not have liked what we found enough to consider obedience to it since my life was so full of three little children whom I was not dealing well with emotionally–but that is another Mom’s Corner. For now, let a forty-year-old mother who is nursing her eleven-month-old baby encourage you to evaluate where you stand in relation to having children, not in light of your present circumstances or difficulties, but in the light of Scripture.