Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Tribute to My Husband

Today Joe and I are celebrating our 36th wedding anniversary in a peaceful hideaway on the Northern California Coast. I am awake early, watching the sun cast its gentle glow over the waves as they meander to the shore. While Joe sleeps in – a luxury that only vacations seem to afford – I am relishing the wonder of the love we have shared these many years. He is such gift to me, and once again I have given thanks while telling the Lord of how I’ll never understand why He chose to grant me the blessing of a life with this amazing man.

As I considered all the things I am grateful for about Joe, I found myself pondering the one thing I would like to tell him today. There are so many great qualities – he’s caring, gentle, hard-working, always a servant – the list goes on. But in the end, the one thing I will always be in awe of is the way Joe loves me without condition. I’m keenly aware of my weaknesses and irritating idiosyncrasies, and have ministered in enough troubled marriages to know that this is no small feat. I don’t know how he does it, but somehow my husband has always believed in me, expected wonderful things from me and cheered me on to greater challenges in character and accomplishment. Yet, there has never been one moment when I’ve felt the pressure to perform or the need to be something other than what I am. In all these 36 plus years, I have felt absolutely free to live in my own skin, warts and all. This is an astounding gift, and pure grace.

I share this private and precious reality because I realized that this quality in Joe so perfectly radiates the heart of Christ for us all. Jesus wants the best, believes the best, and expects the best from each of us, but never hits us over the head with it. He never withholds His love and affection because we aren’t living up to our potential or pursuing change with sufficient diligence. Our Lord simply walks beside us, fully accepting, always loving and gladly cheering us on with confidence; so that all we can do is respond with humble gratitude.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all grant such a gift to each other? This is the takeaway I hope you’ll get from my little tribute. Think of the people in your life today – how can you extend to them the full force of unwavering, expectant love, which has no strings attached? To be honest, this quality seems to have been a part of my husband since the day I met him, but it doesn’t come quite so easily for me. Still, I want to press into this more, for I believe it so deeply pleases the Lord who made us to display His glory in every relationship.

I’m off to spend the day with my beloved husband now. Joe, I hope I’ve honored you in some small measure with these words, although I’m well aware that public acclaim is the last thing you’re interested in. Still, happy anniversary love of my life – thank you with all of my heart for 36 incredible years.

Monday, June 7, 2010

I've Been Getting it All Wrong...

This morning I was skimming through a 1999 prayer journal and stopped short at a lengthy discussion I had with the Lord that went something like this::
"Lord, I feel like I am not doing enough for your kingdom and I need to know how I can be more diligent"
"I no longer call you servant, but friend."
"Yeah, I know Lord, but there are some decisions I need to make about my time and your work and..."
"Tricia, you are my friend. I have come to dine with you, and I'd like to just sit here awhile and enjoy your company, but you keep getting up to do the dishes."

As I read those words, I suddenly had an epiphany of sorts, which I want to share, but first I have a confession to make. I haven't enjoyed my focus on 'living intentionally' these first six months of 2010 and if I'm honest, haven't been very successful at the whole thing. For several days I've been frustrated at this, asking the Lord why it wasn't going so well, when I felt confident He had led me on this venture. He wasn't answering, that is, until I found the old journal entry.

So here was the epiphany: I've been focusing on being intentional about the wrong thing. For me, being intentional has meant trying to make the most of each day, looking for opportunities to accomplish the Lord's purposes -- from conversations to finances to time management and beyond. Now there's nothing inherently wrong in this, but somewhere in the process I slipped slightly off course and the things I felt I needed to do became front and center. What I really needed was to be intentional about pressing into my intimacy with Jesus, and letting everything else flow out of that.

This is so basic you'd think I'd have it down by now, but there you have it. I have had the cart before the horse, so to speak, and I suspect some of you have done the same thing.

As I've looked at 2010 and compared it to 2009, I realized that when I was passionate about learning how to 'live loved', I knew the joy of Jesus' presence, of His desire to be with me, and as a result, was eager to walk with Him throughout each day, looking for His hand, experiencing His heart. And in the process, I ended up being far more intentional than I've been this year, when I've been trying so hard to be intentional.

So here is my commitment for the next six months of 2010: I am going to be as intentional as I can to dine with Christ --to walk with Him, enjoy His presence, learn of His heart and feast on the riches of His grace. And as I do, perhaps all those areas of my life that I've purposed to put under His control, will find a more natural fit.

My step is lighter today and I feel like I've thrown off a nagging weight. We are leaving today for a week on the Northern California coast where there will be no cell phone coverage and limited internet. I plan to put my new resolution into practice as I stand on the rocky cliffs and gaze out at the sea. I can't wait. I'll let you know how it went when I come back -- until then, I hope you can rest a little easier too and enjoy being intentional about knowing Jesus.