I snuggled into John’s arms as we lay in bed. In the darkness of night, I asked, “Did you know you would love me THIS MUCH when we were first married?”
John replied, “Of course.”
That’s my husband. 😊 His love for me is sure and rock-solid.
In fact, just the day before, John put on a song called “Love Will Keep Us Alive” as we drove to a restaurant. He said, “Listen to this song when you’re in the States. Our love will keep us going while we are apart.” As I listened to the song, its words resonated deep within my heart. I started to cry. Oh, I love this man and his precious, caring, romantic heart!
With less than two days remaining before John and I are separated by continents and oceans for seven weeks, the love I have for my husband is swelling. Big time.
It’s not that we haven’t been separated by distance before – not by a long shot. John heads out on many ministry trips during the year. Since our arrival in South Africa for full-time missionary service in 2006, my husband travels anywhere from three days to two weeks at a time for each ministry trip. John offers encouragement, guidance, compassion, support, information, a listening ear, vehicle expertise, and more to pastors and ministry leaders throughout southern Africa. I am beyond proud of my husband as he seeks to bring the love, hope, unity and glory of Christ to a variety of faith communities in this part of the world.
I confess, though, this particular seven-week time span will be the longest between us since we were married over 20 years ago. We feel it.
Yet, as a result of these separations, I believe John and I have accumulated bucket loads and bucket loads of love that spill over with appreciation and respect for each other whether together or apart. We more than enjoy each other’s company – we find life, strength, perseverance, encouragement, and joy together. John is my best friend and biggest cheer-leader. He is also my life’s greatest blessing.
So, while I’m away, I’ll be praying for my wonderful man. Specifically, I’m focusing upon this exhortation of Moses from the book of Deuteronomy:
I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So, choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days.
New International Version, Deuteronomy 30:19-20
According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, the Hebrew transliterated word for life is chayay. To have life – or chayay – is to experience a sustaining, restorative, continuing life. This abundant life is free of sickness, discouragement, deficiency, and weakness.
But how is this kind of sustaining life possible – on earth?
This continuing, strengthening, restorative way of life is dependent upon three critical behaviors:
Loving your God
Listening to His Voice
Holding fast to Him
As John travels and enters new African lands in the name of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ while Jake, Caleb and I are in the United States, I desire for my husband to experience life to the fullest in our absence – as our God intended. We’re going to miss each other – like crazy. But that doesn’t mean the pining of our hearts must distract us from this amazingly good life we have in Christ.
You see, John and I recognize that many are not leaning into the joys and blessings that this life of God offers us all.
Weighted down by fears, past hurts, illness, anger, failure, and any number of other maladies of heart and mind, many are frustrated and discouraged with their lives. They find little to no hope in the future.
It’s no wonder many of us are having a hard time. There is an evil one who enters our world with one purpose – to steal our joy in Christ. He overwhelms our minds with doubt, condemnation, shame, ridicule, and harm upon harm to keep our focus on our circumstances and pain. He strives to cheat us of the blessed, rich, redeeming life found in Jesus Christ.
Jesus warned us of this evil:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
New American Standard Version, John 10:10
Moses understood the danger as well. At the end of his long, long life, Moses exhorted the Israelites to look up and away from the distractions, heart aches, disillusionments, and idols of this world and commit their lives to God with a complete, committed devotion.
This was the way to abundant life, he said:
Be devoted to God
Listen to His Voice
Hold fast to Him
By doing so, we, too, will experience God’s faithfulness, His loyalty, His love, and His presence in innumerable ways.
This my prayer for my husband and our entire family for the next seven weeks. I want others to see that despite the challenge of our family separation, we can experience the full, abundant life found in Jesus Christ. I desire that our love for each other and for our Lord will be easily observed and be an encouraging, strengthening witness to those that we interact with – for John in southern Africa, Jake, Caleb, and me in the United States, and for Micah, too, in Australia. There’s too much discouragement in this world. I’d love our family to spread the joy, hope, and love found in Christ to others for the next seven weeks and change the tide of woe.
This is my prayer for my husband, my family, and for you, too!
Love your God
Listen to His Voice
Hold Fast to Him
And be blessed, be blessed, be blessed!
Let’s make the next seven weeks a very special, encouraging, and meaningful time. I’m certain these three God-centered behaviors will make our family reunion even more sweet – seven weeks from now!
Indeed, our love of God and for each other will keep us alive – and thriving!