Thursday, July 19, 2012

‘He Who Finds a Wife . . .’

Thirty-eight years ago we said, "I do." I'd do it all over again!

The writer of Proverbs asks, “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels” (Proverbs 31:10). Thirty-eight years tomorrow, God found one for me. That was when Sally and I exchanged wedding vows. My friends are probably astounded any woman would (or could) stick with me for that long!

To be honest, on that day I didn’t realize how blessed I was – or would be. But today I do – and am.

When people recite “I do’s,” they know little of what lies ahead. That’s good, because even the best marriage is a rollercoaster; ups and downs abound. Sally and I could never have imagined what the years would bring, but with God’s strength we persevered, enjoying the good and weathering the not-so-good. And there’s been much more good than bad.

Sally’s had to put up with a lot. I dragged her from Ohio and her family, where she’d lived all her life, more than 1,000 miles away to Houston, where I pursued vocational goals and dreams. She endured my 75-hour workweeks (not including daily 30-minute commutes to and from work), dutifully and lovingly caring for our young family while I forged a career as a journalist.

Later we moved to Chattanooga, closer to home for her, but still having to tolerate a husband rushing off to early-morning meetings or traveling around the country in pursuit of subjects for magazine articles. She’s even accepted the uncertainties of paychecks when financial support was low.

But most of all, she’s loved me and stood by me, accepting my faults, and inspiring me to become a better person, husband, father and grandfather.

In the last chapter of Proverbs, the “Proverbs 31 woman” is described. I doubt the writer had someone specific in mind; it’s a composite of traits godly women display. But in numerous ways, Sally fits the description.

It talks about “working with eager hands” and “getting up while it’s still dark…providing food for her family.” This woman “sets about her work vigorously, her arms strong for her tasks.” I can’t count how many times she’s gotten up in very early hours to prepare meals, especially on holidays. Or when she has done whatever was needed for our children and grandchildren – even babysitting and running helpful errands on days off from work.

The passage describes the husband “respected at the city gate.” My wife hasn’t begrudged the many times I’ve tried to fill that image, participating in Bible studies or mentoring and discipling other men, leaving family responsibilities to her. She’s been my girlfriend, best friend, partner and confidant.

Elsewhere in Proverbs it says, “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22). In my case, God’s favor has been abundant – far more than I ever hoped.

Near the end of Proverbs 31 it says of the woman, “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”

Happy anniversary, my beloved wife!

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