This post originally appeared in January, 2008. But my wife was out of town this weekend, so I went over some of my previous posts and decided it was worth reposting.
My wife, Nichole, and I have been married for nine years – almost, but we’ve been together for eleven years. Allow me a digression as I go over how all this has happened.
Nichole’s sister Sandra married my roommate Ralph in the summer of 1996. It was one of those, “Hey, I like you. – Me too! – Wanna get married and become missionaries? – Sure!” kind of whirlwind romances. Nichole was the baby of the family and came to our college that fall because Sandra was going to go to school with Ralph.
Let me tell you about my wife from before she was my wife. Nichole is one of those spiritually intense people who read her Bible every day, tried her best to honor her parents and share the gospel and had committed to the belief that men were distractions from the gospel. She had committed to be a single woman serving in the ministry of her local church. She was beautiful, humble, and godly.
Now a little about the pre-Nichole me. Being about the most spiritually insightful individual since the Cookie Monster, I spent the first two years of my college career pursuing the wrong girls and managing to get myself in heaps of trouble along the way (from which my father usually had to bail me out). I was intelligent, funny, and arrogant. Actually arrogant isn’t the best word for it. Narcissistic might be a better word. I was the coolest person I knew.
Sounds like a match made in heaven, doesn’t it?
God, in his sovereignty, elected to bring these two incredibly different people together. We met in September, 1996, got engaged the following spring and were married in February of 1999. Along the way, I graduated from college; she worked as an elementary teacher and contracted mono (not from kissing someone!); I got a job and moved to New Hampshire; my ’89 Ford Escort literally blew up; and we stumbled into the sanctuary of Baptist Temple in Holbrook, Massachusetts, ready for it all to be over so we could run away to San Diego for our honeymoon. (Which by the way, I’m pretty sure San Diego was the original location of the Garden of Eden…you have no idea how much I prayed that God would call me to pastor in Southern California!)
Along the way, we had long telephone conversations about why she did not want to get married. I remember distinctly asking her, “If you have no intentions of marrying me, why are you wasting my time dating me?” (Just call me “Mr. Sensitive Insight.”) We also had these sublimely painful moments when she would confront me about my ego issues, my anger issues, my authority issues, my lust issues. Oh, it was the most blissful of relationships!
But these conversations were incredibly important, and they were the meat of our dating relationship. Both of us did our best not to put up a front, to be honest and blunt even when it was painful. We have tried to carry this through into our marriage as well – which was and is infinitely more difficult because when you’re dating, you go home to separate beds!
Over the years, we have seen our share of struggles and difficulties. Nichole and I have had some rough times – especially as we’ve discovered our Christ-given freedoms and I, being the model of self-control, usually go to excess in them and then have to seek forgiveness. We have had communication problems galore (ironic for a guy who talks and writes for a living); we have struggles to adjust to changes in our lifestyles and personalities. Nichole has seen me through depression, through doubt, through my parents’ separation and challenges in the church. She has been faithful to me and our marriage, an unwavering tower of strength, even in her weakness.
So, why am I telling this to the two of you who read this blog? Because Satan wants to sift us, break us apart into useless powder. Jesus told Simon Peter:
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” [Luke 22:31-32, ESV]
At moments of crisis, times when we need judgment, those moments when we rise or fall, Satan wants to destroy the ones who are most important to advancing Jesus’ Kingdom. At the Crucifixion, it was Simon Peter. In our churches, it is our marriages – our husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. Satan wants to destroy us at the very core of what we are, the primary relationships that drive the Kingdom forward. Satan wants us. Husbands, SATAN WANTS YOU. Wives, SATAN WANTS YOU. He wants to destroy you because if he can, he destroys the family.
But Jesus is praying for you, that your faith (meaning your faithfulness!) does not fail. He knows we will stumble (I am an expert at stumbling) but he is praying we will turn again (repent) and be strength for others.
Those moments when you feel like you don’t love your spouse – when you think “What if…?” – when you find yourself drifting from your loyalty. Recognize what it is. It is SATAN trying to sift you, trying to destroy your marriage because he HATES the church, he HATES men who lead and love like Christ, he HATES wives who submit to their husbands like Christ submitted to the will of the Father.
You are targets. Your marriages, my marriage – Satan himself is out to get you and don’t you think for a minute he can’t do it if you let him.