Obedience – a natural response to sacrificial love

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is the one that talks about wives obeying their husbands in Ephesians 5. In my single days such an ordinance was offensive to my very independent ears. “Me, obey a man! Yeah, right!” It made me LOL before “LOL” was even a thing. However, in the beautiful context this passage is written, I understand the depth of meaning behind it. I am to submit to my husband the way the Church submits to Jesus. In the same breath, my husband is to sacrifice himself for me the way Jesus sacrificed himself for the Church. It’s a circle of loving submission:  Jesus for the Church, the Church to Jesus // Andrew for me, me to Andrew.

Obedience is quite simple when we are asked to obey someone who loves us beyond measure, and when that person has sacrificed everything for us. For example, submitting to Andrew is simple for me, because he almost always has my best life in mind when he makes decisions. His decisions are rarely selfish; they are intended to lift me up and keep me from harm. In turn, if he ever asks anything of me, his love for me assures me that obedience is safe and for my best life. Andrew’s love is great, but it’s not comparable to Christ’s love for me.

When Christ asks us for obedience, his expectation always comes from a depth of love that is incomprehensible. Sometimes it is hard to trust that obedience to God’s commands is the best choice, especially when our selfishness and brokenness want so desperately to make the decisions for us. But what we are quick to dismiss is how it is always disobedience to God that gets us into trouble, and that we cry to him when we suffer the natural consequences for the poor choices we made that were in clear defiance of his commands. When we disobey, we are effectively telling God, “I know what you say, but I don’t care, I know what is best for me.”

All of God’s commands are in place for our good, for our protection, for our ability to live our best lives—they are given out of sacrificial love. Maybe if remember that our obedience is to the One who loves us more than we love ourselves, it will help us keep obedience in perspective!

Meltdowns Happen

My husband is a saint – seriously – he’s about as good a guy as you could ever imagine. He gives me all the freedom I need to be me, but he includes me in everything I need to be included in to feel like we are partners. He never complains about anything I do, even though I know I must annoy him occasionally (rarely, I’m sure!). He works hard, and will juggle a million things so we can pay the bills. He truly enjoys being with me, spending time with me, and making me happy. All of these things contribute to his saintliness.

I am far less saintly. Anyone who knows me knows this without being told. I have an earthy, be one with nature sensibility about me, but I also have a lot of my parents in me, so I am very regimented and orderly. Add to that a need to be in control in most situations, and I am naturally a person who lives at a certain level of stress at all times. When my stress level is raised to a sustained maximum, I tend to lose my temper – usually in the presence of my afore-mentioned husband of endless patience.

Yesterday was the culmination of weeks of stress that built up to a fever pitch yesterday afternoon. After getting home from a shopping excursion that worked my very last stressed-out nerve, I finally broke open and all my frustration came gushing out of my mouth and my arms as I yelled and slammed things around while trying to get stuff to fit in the refrigerator while the door kept closing on me. A small thing, certainly – obviously nothing to get all tantrumy about – but apparently that stupid refrigerator door closed on my arm for the fourth or fifth time on the wrong day! Andrew came in from the car to me howling at the refrigerator and slamming things into the box trying without success to get them to stay inside. A man of great wisdom, or at least a man who knows his wife well, he grabbed the door, looked me sternly in the eye and told me to, “Go! Go sit down!” Thinking back on it, I have to laugh. That’s all it takes for me to be startled out of my tantrum. I’m so alarmed when he gets mad at me and just speaks with a frustrated tone that I am shaken back to reality immediately. I guess that says a lot about how he speaks to me normally!

Today, I stayed home – I did not try to deal with traffic on Route 9 nor on I-95; I did not mingle with those who do not seem to know how to drive, or shop, or interact with general humanity in a courteously aware-of-their-surroundings sort of manner; I did not do much of anything but make big headway on getting this disaster of a house put together. The biggest thing about today, though, was working with Andrew – my greatest ally and partner – to get this place livable. Another day like today and we’ll be ready to finish painting the last 2 bedrooms, hallway, stairwell, and dining room cabinets. Then our house will feel like a home  (translation – it will be neat and orderly and not a producer of stress in my life!). 

So that was my I’m-too-stressed-out-by-everything-going-on meltdown. It only happens once a year or so – or so.  I guess I’m good for a while. Good thing Andrew is such a patient guy.

Glad God Uses Knuckleheads

Goodbye, Portland, hello Manchester-by-the-Sea!

I got to spend some marvelous time with people I dearly love, though not all the people I dearly love – those people I did not get to see, I will intentionally plan to make time for next trip! I saw my dear friend, Cindy, graduate at long last! I saw professors from Multnomah that I admire and love and whose lessons still shape my daily life. I saw my aunt and Mark who are such beautiful examples of so many things that I love. I saw my church family that loves me and supports me with wide open arms. And I saw Diane and Amanda who are the best of what I loved about being at work in Stevenson.  It was a wild, hurried, whirlwind of a trip, but it was wonderful.

Now I’m home and beginning to pack. Our move to Framingham is coming up really fast! Andrew begins preaching there this Sunday, and we will plan to take a few things that will fit in the car over with us each week until our move on June 10 (give or take).

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Welcome to Framingham Church of the Nazarene!

Oh dear, how time gets away. Now it’s Sunday and Andrew just finished preaching his first weekend at Framingham. These people – how welcoming they are! Since they know we are part of their family now, they just welcomed us with warm, huggy arms and made us feel incredibly loved and appreciated. It was a marvelous day.

Today I felt pride for Andrew that I haven’t experienced before. It was like a quiet, humbled reflection of what an incredible man he has become over the years. Not that he hasn’t always been a good man, but honestly, we got married when he was 22, and no one is the man they will become when they are 22. The man before me today is one of great integrity and intelligence. He is full of humor and wisdom; passion and sensibility. I am sort of blown away by his ability to preach and the authority with which he does it. Who knew the guy with all the hair and the rock star dreams would go shiny bald and become a pastor?? Maybe his parents, but certainly not his wife. I get it now; I’m on board.

We had no idea that coming to Boston for graduate school would result in finding a church to pastor. But God’s plans are – well, God’s – and we just try to keep up with him. Chad and Andrew always had a saying at The Bridge among the leadership in that church plant – “God is using a bunch of knuckleheads to accomplish his plans here.” I feel like we are still those knuckleheads, just in New England instead of the Northwest. I guess the same is true way out here. So, we’ll continue holding on tight, attempting to be brave enough to open our eyes to see where we’re going from time to time. Here we go on this wild ride!

Pastor Andrew Marshall - Framingham Church of the Nazarene