Contributing Writer: Marty Norman, Author and Writer I can’t think of a better way to launch our Valentines day week with a story of commitment, hardship, grace and love!
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“Jim and I have been married 44 years. It’s hard to believe—we have almost half a century of history and memories together. I have reminders of each year, thanks to a tradition we started the first year of marriage. Purchasing a Christmas ornament on our honeymoon, we continue to add more ornaments for special occasions and travels, a reminder of those special times in our lives. Now when we decorate the Christmas tree, we revisit those memories.” **
But we all know that marriage is more than ornaments on a Christmas tree. Marriage is a life time of years, good and bad, that begins with a covenant. I suspect most young people don’t understand this commitment when they take their vows. I know I didn’t. But the Lord has a way of bringing us to himself. By using life experiences, our successes and failures, he prunes and perfects us individually and corporately, bringing us to an understanding of His marriage covenant.
At least that’s what happened to me.
Jim and I began our years together without Christ in our marriage covenant. We both knew Jesus but we had no place for him in our marriage. Jim put medicine first in his life; I put Jim on the throne of grace in mine.
Not understanding commitment we began our marriage by building our house on sand. When the winds blew and the storms came, our house came crashing down. It is only by the grace of God and the undergirding of praying friends, that the marriage was saved.
“Isn’t that what happens in marriages that are not built on Jesus. With no hinge to hold the marriage in place, with no God in lives, a strong wind can blow the doors down. Most people hold on for as long as they can, but the storm is too strong and their faith too weak. The door falls, and the abandoned street in their lives is exposed.
It is in this brokenness that God rebuilt my marriage. By using a seven month separation, God jack-hammered up our false foundation and allowed us, through His merciful forgiveness, to rebuild a new house on the rock of Christ.” **
This last Christmas my husband retired after 33 years in medical practice. I never thought I would see this day, but through the redemption and saving grace of Christ, I can truly say it blesses me to have been along for the ride.
Standing in his office that last day was a bittersweet moment. As I reflected on our history, the grueling years of med school, the long hours of being alone during residency, the hard years of practice when medicine dominated both our lives, I was overwhelmed.
By the blessing of God’s grace, I have experienced Jim’s evolution from practice to ministry, from medicine first to God-first. Today I celebrate his high standards and caring attitude as I’ve watched him use his God given skill and prayer to stand with patients in their darkest hours.
Now he is in a season of giving back. We both are. By the grace of God, we will be going on two mission trips this year, together. God has truly taken the years that the locusts have eaten and redeemed them at a price higher than gold.
So today we don’t collect ornaments for our Christmas tree. Instead we plant touchstone memories in our hearts as we watch a merciful God tend and grow them into his perfect plan.
And just think. It only took 44 years to do this!
Marty Norman is a wife, mother, author, and grandmother of five. The asterisks ** are excerpts from her new book, “The Savvy Grandmother – Building A Legacy of Faith” that will be released in May 2012. Her first book, “Generation G – Advice for Savvy Grandmothers Who Will Never Go Gray“, was published in 2008. You can find Marty at http://www.martynorman.com/home.html.