She was married at the age of sixteen with her mother’s consent. Her father was a cruel and harsh man, and to protect the daughter, a marriage license was quickly obtained. Soon she was married to a young man seven years older, whom she had been seeing twice a week for the last year with her father’s consent.
The situation had erupted when the daughter had asked the father if she might now see the young man three times a week. This had made the father very angry, and he had whipped her mercilessly. After the dad left the house, the girl went over to her boyfriend’s. When the boy’s mother saw the girl, she was broken-hearted and sought a solution. Together they went to the girl’s mother, who soon consented to signing the marriage license for the daughter.
Through a dear older woman, she came to know Jesus as Lord and Savior at the age of nineteen, and she is a beautiful testimony of God’s faithful work in the human heart. I detected no bitterness or anger as she spoke of her father, but a sweet and tender heart. Truly, it is amazing how the love of Christ Jesus can change a person.
One would think that to have been married fifty-three years it must have been a beautiful, storybook kind of marriage. Yes, one might think that, but instead it was a dramatic testimony of God’s grace. The good man of twenty-three who rescued her from a terrible home situation brought her into a new set of undesirable circumstances. Her knight in shining armor was to become an alcoholic and a gambler. He then shared with her the multitude of difficulties that go with those addictions.
She gives credit to the Lord Jesus for sustaining her through those fifty-three years of marriage. Does she harbor bitterness toward her husband? No. She says, “He loved me.” Many times she repeated, “He loved me.” Even with such a hard life, by God’s grace, she chose to look back on her husband’s love instead of the injustice that she received through the years.
As a lost man, her husband could not love her as Christ has called husbands to love their wives. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). Brothers, do we love our wives? Not “do we provide for them,” but do we love them? When they think of us, do they think of our love for them? Do our wives find comfort in knowing we love them? Do we love them not just in word but in deed? To love our wives as Christ loved the church is not just a nice saying, it is a command of God through the Holy Spirit.
Here is a secondary thought for us to consider. What appetites are we creating in our children? This woman’s husband of fifty-three years became an alcoholic and a gambler largely due to his well-meaning mother. She felt it was special for her family to have some home-brew always available. That she did, and her son developed a real taste for alcohol as he grew up. I said “largely due” because we are all individually accountable to God for the sin in our life. Others may place a stumbling block in our path, but we are still responsible and will be judged accordingly.
The well-meaning mom also wanted her family to spend time together in the evenings, so they began playing cards together. They never played for money, not even pennies, but they used matches and toothpicks. After years of playing cards in the home, he was hooked as a youth and became a serious gambler as an adult.
A brother in Christ once shared with me how his mother taught him to play penny-pat when he was young, and that gave him a hunger for gambling. Even though his mother was well-intentioned and wanted to spend some time with her son, in reality what she did was to give him the appetite for gambling. Therefore, he was addicted to it even at middle-school age.
Brothers, what sort of appetites are we creating in our children? Whether it is a part of our lives that they observe, something we allow in their lives, the gifts that we give, or something we encourage them to do, they will readily develop appetites. “I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father” (John 8:38). “Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones” (Luke 17:1-2).
May we evaluate our lives and what we encourage in the lives of our children for the fruit it will produce in them. I’m amazed how occasionally I will see a child doing something they shouldn’t, and when I correct them, they will say, “But you saw me doing this before and didn’t say anything.” Since they weren’t corrected previously, they took that as approval to do it again, when in fact we might not have really noticed what was going on.
Men, may our hearts be turned toward our family. May we love our wives sincerely with great honor and respect. May we guard the hearts of our children and be ever so careful of what appetites we introduce in their lives. As we love Jesus Christ and obey Him in all that He calls us to, our family will be drawn to Christ as well, and He will be glorified.