“God’s pursuing, persevering love.”
During a restful week of celebrating and reflecting on our 43rd wedding anniversary in the beautiful north Georgia mountains we sought to come up with how we’d describe our marriage in just a few words. My words were “God’s pursuing, persevering love.”
In the midst of our teenage ignorance, and immature love, Mary and I believed God was leading us together. As I look back over these 43 years, I’m struck by God’s overarching sovereign care, his gracious pursuit of us, his never ending perseverance, and his amazing love all in the midst of our brokenness, resistance, numerous mistakes, and outright sin. We are slowly growing in yielding and opening our whole hearts to his love. Here is one way that He is blessing us through this process.
In the last few months, God has been revealing to me that when I experience affirmation from people I often don’t let it go deep within me. Therefore I’m blocking the transforming voice of God from my brothers and sisters. I began seeing this through some challenges our board experienced. As I worked through those with each person, I chose to pause, force myself to deeply listen, and then to open my whole heart. I would often take several minutes of quietness, awkward as it might be, to seek to truly hear the person and the echo of God’s voice through them to me. As I did, I could sense God touching me, loving me, healing me in particularly significant places of my life.
As Mary and I spent the week together I realized that I’ve had the same response with her. On my 60th Birthday among a small group of friends, she shared a rather vulnerable affirmation of her love for me. She remembers being negatively affected that I did not let it go deep within me. I too remember, though I attributed it to being in a group setting. However, looking back I see that it was this same protective strategy of not opening myself to truly be loved.
In our three week silent retreat in May, 2013 I made major progress in this area, but during our anniversary trip I realized I’m still not fully opening to receiving God’s love through Mary. So I chose to believe that Mary deeply loves me, and I chose to open my heart to be loved. It made a significant difference in our experience of our anniversary celebration. I am choosing to continue to open as we enter into our 44th year together. There will be challenges, but unless I risk, I’ll never experience the fullness of “God’s pursuing, persevering love” through my beautiful, precious wife.