Monday, September 7, 2009

12 Whatevers

Journal for Christa, (from Feb. 23, 2009)

Back in the day, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the church door. I distinctly remember the moment I slapped my 12 whatevers on the kitchen cabinet with Scotch tape. Ironically, I don’t remember even one of the edicts. I also don’t recall what purpose I thought they’d serve since Jay and I alone inhabited a house, much too small, with four illiterate wee people and a dog. I doubt they made a splashing impression on Jay either when he came home from work. But, it felt good when paper in hand smacked the cabinet door!

We think of Martin Luther as a great man of accomplishment, and so he was. But even for Luther there were long years of waiting, pondering, and growth— How often in solitude did he contemplate his purpose in life?

Four degrees between us (3 were Jay’s), we spent the first ten years of our marriage waiting to “do what we were called to do.” Many things happened during those years that only distance brought to light. They were significant, foundational years under the ministry of Dr. Martin. In those days we went to church three times a week, not to mention Sunday school, training union, and choir practice. I heard so many of his sermons, I could quote his illustrations verbatim. Though a seminary professor and scholar of the Word, he was immensely practical. He had made marriage a focus of his ministry, weaving it into every sermon, laying a foundation to last us a life time. One of his illustrations was about a newly-married man who thought he loved his wife too much, so he sought the counsel of his pastor. “Do you love her more than Christ loves the Church?” the pastor questioned. “Of course, not,” replied the man. “Then you do not love her too much,” stated the wise pastor, “for that is your standard.” Husbands, love your wives as Christ so loved the Church and gave himself for it.

The most important relationship between people is the marriage relationship. And under the careful tutelage of the Martins’ ministry, we became “one flesh.” Oh, there were other things, like his annual sermon on anger or his sermon on how to handle criticism. All in all, they were not stagnant years, as they often seemed to be. They just may have been the most important years of our lives, for they dictated how the subsequent years would be lived. As for the “12 Whatevers,” that’s just a blank page—a day of frustration embedded in years of waiting, pondering, and growth.

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