I mentioned earlier that I was closing in on marriage, and most of my posts lately have not been terribly personal in nature. This is my fault, it's my nature to look at things from 30,000 feet, to take something small and use it as a microcosm of a larger picture. And I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with that, but it's only so helpful to myself or to others. At the end of the day if I'm talking with someone who doesn't know Jesus, maybe someone who's even offended by the whole idea, being able to discuss big points of theology is only so useful. It's absolutely necessary, and I have no intention of stopping, but being able to express Jesus' impact on my heart and my life requires more than an ability to explain the concept of atonement and propitiation.
And so, how has Jesus affected me? Well, he has made me able to love a woman, to desire to be a godly husband to her and to be willing to give up my self for her own sake. Those are not things I would willingly do on my own. If you came to me ten years ago and said "Okay Dave, here's a woman, and she's going to do things you don't like and you're going to disagree on some things and there will be points that certain things you like will have to be let go of," I would have told you to kindly move along, I had no interest in such things. But because I saw exactly how much Jesus was willing to give up for the sake of saving me--His life--and through His gentleness and grace shining through all the crud in my life to lovingly pull me closer in to Him, I have had the desire to be likewise with Jessica. Rather than begrudgingly going along so that "I get what I want" out of a relationship, the Holy Spirit has planted in me a desire to become a husband that looks like Jesus in the way that I am with my wife.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.Now, I want to make one thing clear: the difficultly in expressing personal things here really comes from the fact that the work being wrought by the Spirit sounds so much more straightforward and simple than the actual path and walk through life while enduring it. As I said: my natural inclination is to do what I want. Doing what I want by its nature precludes being able to be the sort of husband described above: giving of all of my self for another's sake, seeking to present her without blemish rather than taking what I want, loving her as I love myself. It is only by God's grace that the desire to be this way has been given to me, and I'll tell you right now...there are still times where I just want to say "Screw it, I'm gonna sit this event out." There are times that I encounter that old, selfish self and again by God's grace, I'm able to be aware of it, to not be enslaved to sin but instead to know the danger lurking in front of me. When those times come, there are still times where I have done the wrong thing...but God has been gracious to give me a loving and forgiving wife that prays with me and for me. And so through up and down, sinful desire and frustrated prayer, God has slowly, lovingly continued His work to create a new man where an old angry, bitter, selfish one once stood. My daily prayer is to endure day by day and rely solely upon the grace of Jesus on the cross, knowing that now He is my great high priest, interceding for me and providing what I need daily.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.--Ephesians 5:22-33
One point of contention that has caused frustration and conflicts that have required us both to spend a lot of time talking and praying for guidance has been church. We come from different church backgrounds and while I have been a member of the Village for some years now, it seems that she has never been able to find a place there. I have no intention of dragging her to a place she does not desire to be, but I am also concerned that we end up in a place that is a good watering ground for growing in the Gospel. We live in the Bible Belt, with a seemingly endless number of churches around us--but many of them are run by "peddlers of God's word," endorsing self-help philosophies and theological notions that have nothing to do with the Gospel of Jesus and more to do with feeling better about yourself and hoping in earthly gain of some kind, whether of the health and wealth type or of the self-righteousness type.
I do not pretend that there is a perfect church out there, because all churches are run by men and will have things that just don't work or end in the right place. But after spending so much time in a church run by and filled with men and women who desire to submit themselves to the Gospel and have a deep love for Jesus, I can't bear to settle for less than that. Jessica and I will have to work through and find a place that satisfies us, but I know that for both of us it will be a matter of sacrificing and of God working in our hearts to transform us further into the image of Christ. We have had moments of frustration and charged discussions about it, but we love each other and we know that God is working actively in our lives to achieve the greatest good. And so, we trust Him and walk forward, praying for a light to guide each step.
I've also been taking time away from the performing world, and I have stopped performing with the band I had played with for several years. There are a few reasons, but it can be summed up in feeling that God was calling me at least out of that position. More pragmatically, my job had become too much to deal with sudden trips out of town and the wedding preparations demanded more attention. But again, here was a place that God had moved in me to make me open-handed about it, rather than trying to cling to it desperately until God had to painfully pry me out of it. His mercy worked slowly, gently to change me, and I am thankful for His grace. I'd like to get back into playing, and I have some plans I'm kicking around but I will probably wait until after the wedding and the busy season of work to start initiating them.
I don't know where God will take me, and to be honest I don't think I expected to be here. But one thing that's been made clear, from all the work He's been doing in my life, is that He will not stop until He's accomplished what He set out to do when the Gospel fell in my heart. I praise His name for that, and I desire that the things that hold me back from living it out fully would be healed and removed, so that more people would see the love of Christ in me.