Wednesday, July 27, 2016

"Voice Your Vows"

"Voice your vows" is a phrase I heard Joni Erickson Tada use in a radio interview the other day and I loved it. She was sharing about her walk thru cancer and all the work her husband had to do to care for her as a paraplegic. At one of the more trying moments, he simply said to her, "This is part of the for worse." They went on to talk about the difference it made in their marriage to simply remind each other, and themselves, of the vows they had made.

I hadn't thought much more about this until today on the eve of our 15th anniversary. This was a day that didn't look anything like I expected, which can be hard for a planner like me. Forty years on a farm, where things rarely go as planned, is slowly helping me change though. So I set aside my agenda and tried to embrace the one that was taking place.

We're in the midst of combining oats and my husband, Job, asked me to take some wagons to another farm. I agreed, completed the task and was then asked to unload the wagons I was pulling home. I tried, but didn't have the brute strength to move the equipment. So I gave Job a call thinking my work on the farm was done. I was wrong and humbly received a different job.

I say humbly with joy because not long ago I may have outwardly submitted and took the job, but inwardly my thoughts were running...quickly...in a negative direction. All my married friends know that's not a good thing! Today part of me wanted to grumble...this wasn't my plan for the day. I could have complained...my to-do list was long. Thankfully I chose to die to self, shut my mouth and do what needed to be done.

As I did what I didn't expect to do, God gave me time. Time to think, time to pray, time to be still, time to reflect and time to remember. I spent close to 5 hours on the road, but never went more than 4 miles from home. Tractors are slow and our fields are not that far away.

It was good to be quiet and let the Spirit speak to my heart. I needed to remember where and who I've been and reflect on all God has done. Twenty-five years ago, I was a teen in love with basketball who swore I'd never marry a farmer. Seventeen years ago I was a new teacher struggling with depression and fearing a life lived all alone. Today I'm a day from being a farmer's wife for 15 years and I'm grateful for the life we live and family we have.

I truly am blessed, but today I was reminded...there's two sides to every story, every situation brings some good and bad. Life on the farm is a great opportunity to work together and raise a family, but there's also the work that never ends and pressure that accompanies weather and prices you can't control. Being a wife is a role I thank God for...I'm truly blessed by Job's encouragement, provision and love, but as any married woman knows marriage isn't always easy. The joy that comes with being a Mom is really immeasurable, but that role too has its challenges.

Friend, no matter what roles you play, I'm sure you could say the same. We live in a fallen world and Jesus assured us we would have trouble. So the question is not - "Will trouble come?", but instead - "How will we respond when it does?"

For the purpose of this post, I'm going to look at struggles in the arena of marriage - if this isn't a place you find yourself, I trust you can substitute a different role and apply the same concept. I believe Joni's three words are a powerful tool. When struggles come, voice your vows.

Let me ask you, have you ever repeated your vows since your wedding day? I haven't and I was so nervous that day I'm not sure I even knew what I was saying! But speaking truth is important...this is a great reminder and attitude changer. Remembering the promise you gave and covenant you made puts things in perspective.

Friend, I encourage you the next time trouble comes, plans change or your feelings are hurt - voice your vows. You don't necessarily have to speak them out loud to your husband, but say them to yourself and see the difference it will make.

This strategy doesn't just work with our earthly husbands, but also our heavenly Father, whom Isaiah 54:5 says is our husband. God has made us countless promises...the Bible is full of them and when trouble comes it's vital that we voice His vows.

Just for starters...

Feeling unloved? He promises love that never fades - "No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:37-39

Feeling anxious? He promises peace - “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid." John 14:27

Feeling weak? He promises strength - "He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:20-31

Feeling tired? He promises rest - Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:28-29

Today is there a vow you made to your husband that you need to remember? Voice it now!! Are you forgetting a vow God has made? Remember it today!!




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