Stormy beginnings

calm-before-storm-1We celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary in 2014.  Married life began in a storm, and what a storm.  It was a one in 20 year weather event, apparently.  It had gone on for a week and shown no signs of abating.

The month of February is full on summer in NZ and we thought the weather would be good for our wedding.  Wrong!

I think it was because we had a big  evangelistic crusade in New Zealand at the time, and it had gone to Wellington, our capital which was only two hours away.  The campaign, Impact World Tour was brilliant because all the churches of different denominations came together and worked as one to reach people for the Lord.  We were all involved in different ways.

The devil didn’t like it and tried to rain out all the venues.  It was a spiritual battle.  The only problem was our wedding was being affected by the weather too.  I should have thought about it more when we chose the date.

Everyone asked us what plan B was for the weather.  There was no plan B.  My fiancee decided to go ahead with having the ceremony in the garden.  It had a strange calm about it, even though the wind blew through the trees around this place named Homestead Garden.

There is a scripture in Isaiah 25:4 that describes God as being a refuge in the storm. 

Homestead Garden b&w

Homestead garden

When we got married we invited God to the wedding, which went off without a hitch in an island of calm, with radiant sunshine.  Our guests  got sunburnt.  All the other outdoor weddings that day got rained out and blown out.  People were amazed that the storm didn’t touch us.  I’ve never known such favour.

As we were saying our vows, two Monarch butterflies fluttered their way across the lawn in front of us.  It was a beautiful sign to be given.  The butterfly has turned up at different places in the story.

You’ll see the butterfly emerge in Chapter 5 of my book ‘The Kingdom, Here Be Dragons, Here Be Dreams.’.  It flutters into the story again in Chapter 8, ‘Shelter in the Storm.’  This time, it’s not alone.

Here are a few photos of our wedding in the storm.

Windy wedding 2 Our wedding at Homestead Garden 3 resized Windy wedding 1

 

 

The ring, and the unnamed servant

doves-eyesIn a way the courtship I wrote about in my story The Kingdom reminds me of the Bible story in Genesis 24 of Isaac and Rebecca.  Isaac’s bride had to come from his father’s country.  The father sent an unnamed servant to go and get her. 

The unnamed servant met Rebecca at a well.  He watched her closely.  When she fulfilled the signs the servant looked for, he gave her a ring and two bracelets.   Rebecca went on a journey with the servant to find Isaac, and she first clapped eyes on Isaac when he had gone out into the Prayer in desertdesert in the evening to meditate.  The servant announced to her who Isaac was, and Rebecca veiled herself.  The servant told Isaac all he had done.  Rebecca became the wife of Isaac, and he loved her.

I could have written those scenes in the Kingdom with that in mind, but I had no way of knowing about “Isaac” when I wrote about the desert and the wells.  I just went where God led.

The unnamed servant was sent with gifts and jewellery to fetch the bride.  He put the ring on the bride.  The unnamed servant is a type for the Holy Spirit.

My rings both have interesting stories behind them.  God supplied the wedding ring out of thin air, and it came first.  Then after I met “Isaac”, a beautiful and very valuable engagement ring came from “Isaac’s” Grandmother in Florida, over 8,000 miles away.

Hosea 2-19

In the story I write called “The Kingdom”, the King told me “Isaac” was going to be my husband.  The story about the gold wedding ring that just appeared one day out of nowhere is in my book.

When I met “Isaac”, he told me his mother’s maiden name was “Isaacson”.  By then I knew he was the husband, but it was still an amazing confirmation.

As soon as “Isaac” knew I was the one, he wanted to get a ring on my finger right away.

The only trouble was he’d just started a business and had no money.  When I pointed out the obvious, he just believed God would help him out with the ring.  And God did.  His mother told him she had a ring just waiting for him.  It was a huge rock!  It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever been given.

Some things aren’t built to move

What do you think of same sex marriage?  The Church didn’t see it coming, and we’re left scrambling.  Some Churches see themselves as inclusive, and they will conduct gay marriages.  Other Churches are taking a “wait and see” approach.  The Church I belong to is sticking to what is written in the Bible, that marriage is between a man and a woman. I agree with my Church. 

Now you may see me as being an intolerant bigot.  No, I’m a repentant sinner.  There’s this saying I like; “Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes“, and I am going to.  Please hear me out.

I have the same right

Jesus was very clear about divorce, and marriage being between one man and one woman.  You can read it for yourself in Matthew 19:3-11.

My story “The Kingdom” began when I was a divorced woman with a married man.  At first, I didn’t regard that as being a terrible sin.  I mean, he was going to get divorced!  Do you see how messed up that was?

When I got to know God, He showed me that He regards divorce, adultery, and homosexuality as sin.  It was a struggle for me to trust God to get me out of all of that.  I got there with a lot of help from my friends and support from people in different churches.

After my divorce God in His mercy gave me a second chance, and I was able to leave all of that behind me.  I am now very happily married to a man who loves the Lord as much as I do.

What do you think the Church is here for?  It’s to deal with sin.  We’re like a cross between a school and a hospital.  We teach the truth, and bring emotional, physical and spiritual healing to those who are wounded by sin.  That is what we do, knowing that we ourselves are sinners.  We are not perfect, we’ve been forgiven.

The church is there to help turn our lives around, so we can go the other way.  That is what we are.  We are like a lighthouse – an oil filled one.  Oil is a symbol for the Holy Spirit.  If your Church is offering same sex marriage – run.  It’s a Church without any oil.

Jesus told a story about a Bridegroom and oil in Matthew 25, the parable of the 10 virgins.  That Church is not interested in dealing with sin, or your spiritual condition.  The Church is supposed to deal with sin, not accommodate it in the name of “tolerance” or “inclusiveness”!

We can’t change the marriage covenant.  It would mean abandoning our faith to do it.  You might as well be asking for a lighthouse to move!  Here’s a clip about the USS Montana and a lighthouse.

Seven circles

ChuppahEven though the Church was born in Jerusalem, it is separated from Israel – to our loss.  In these troubled and interesting times Messianic Jews (Jews who have accepted Jesus as their Messiah) are bringing back a cultural context to the Bible that was lost to the Church for over a millennia.

For instance, one night the couple who led my home-group decided to present the teaching of a Messianic Jew on the meaning and symbolism of a Jewish wedding ceremony.  This was for general application, to show parallels between a Jewish wedding and the Church’s relationship to Christ, outlined here:
http://www.gotquestions.org/Jewish-wedding-traditions.html

The teaching had ties to Jeremiah 31:21, where I had been given a word from Jeremiah about going full circle.  For me it was a Rhema word, that is a word for personal application.  It filled in a lot of blanks for me, as well as confirming the rhema word.

The confirmation on this occasion really amused me, because it was so Jewish. Even though Jesus belongs to us all, it reminded me that He is a Jew.  Jesus talked about the Bridegroom in some of His parables.

Chuppah 1In Jewish wedding tradition, the bride may circle the groom 3 or 7 times under the Chuppah.  This is generally an Ashkenazi practice.  The Ashkenazi Jew comes from Europe.

The Chuppah is a canopy under which a Jewish couple stand during their wedding ceremony.  It consists of a cloth or sheet stretched or supported over four poles.  A traditional chuppah recommends that there be open sky exactly above the chuppah.  So the Ashkenazi custom is to have the Chuppah ceremony outside under the stars, as a sign of the blessing given by God to the patriarch Abraham, that his children shall be “as the stars of the heavens” (Genesis 15:5).

Why does the bride circle the groom?

I love this explanation;

The bride, by circling the groom, expresses her awesome power over him.

The seven circuits are reminiscent of the biblical story of Joshua leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. They came to Jericho, a city known as the key to the land – if they could conquer it, the land would be theirs. But Jericho was protected by a big wall. There seemed to be no way in.

Similarly, every man has a wall built around his heart. Men are taught to hide their feelings, to create an impression of impenetrability, to make it seem that they have it all figured out. Men create elaborate defenses to hide any sign of weakness or vulnerability, and fiercely guard their deepest secret – that inside they are sensitive and meek, simple and soft.

But a wise woman can pierce this defensive wall. If she surrounds her husband with the protective aura of her love, if she envelops him with affection, and if she makes him feel that he is the anchor, the center, the focal point of her life, then he can feel safe and comfortable. When that happens, the walls protecting his heart come tumbling down. Then she has conquered him – all of him.

Source: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/586014/jewish/A-Mans-Deepest-Secret.htm

In the next chapter of The Kingdom I had met the man the Lord had promised me, after going around him in a big circle.  This was the third time our paths had crossed.  The trouble was, he didn’t exactly welcome me into his life.  There was a big wall around his heart.  I found him cold and stand-offish, and didn’t know if I liked him all that much.  It wasn’t an auspicious start for us.

The spirit of submission

Have you ever read the verses in the Bible about women submitting themselves to their husbands?  It’s in Ephesians 5:21-33.  The narcissist quoted it in an attempt to get authority over me.   (Chapter 4 Warning).  Its really useful for control freaks.

Ephesians_5-25

It made me want to puke.  I found the verses really demeaning.  I thought if that was what Christian marriage entailed, I didn’t want it.  I told myself I was happier being alone than being a second class citizen in my own home.  It was stopping me from having a chance at a happy marriage.

I’m not a feminist, although my daughter thinks I am.  If a man holds a door open for me or shows deference to me I see that as respect and thank him for his lovely manners.   However I will not tolerate male chauvinism or sexism or being talked down to.  I believe men and women should be treated with respect.

What concerned me were these offending passages in the Bible by the apostle Paul.  I still consider him a complete chauvinist.  But one Sunday our Pastor, a big Samoan guy, redeemed the subject by preaching on it.  This what he said;

“What is the spirit of Christ? It is the spirit of submission. In marriage, it is for the man to lay down his life for the woman.”  It means the husband has to put his wife first.  He has to lay down his life, to sacrifice for his wife, just as Christ sacrificed Himself for us.   He went on to say that the wife would naturally submit to any man when the love is there, and call her husband ‘Lord’.

I didn’t have any problems with what he said, and am sharing it here in the hope it may help other couples.  So many churches have mishandled this subject.  There has been so much misunderstanding.

The pastor’s correct teaching and handling of the subject helped me make my third wish.

The earlier wishes are here:

Chapter 6 The road to freedom

Chapter 15 True Beauty

A vision, and the promise

Every promise

When I was still in an abusive relationship, the Lord told me that I would be married again and He would choose my future husband.  I wondered whether it was just me reading Isaiah 62 and indulging in too much wishful thinking.  It seemed a very Eastern concept, but I went with it because I would never have dreamed that up, and it gave me hope for the vacuum I would soon find myself in after leaving my abuser.

Months later, I had a conversation with the Lord about it while in a quiet moment writing my Kingdom story.  I had been reading my Bible and praying for guidance.

The King asked me to list the attributes of the husband he was choosing for me.  I was in the Kingdom at the time and thought I was just writing a story.  So I wrote stuff about a prince who had slayed dragons, could make me laugh, and was good with my children.  I left it to one paragraph.

If you are a believer, and the King gets you involved in a choice He is making – then be specific, be really, really specific, because I can tell you now that He is a God who keeps his promises.  If you get an opportunity like that, cross every t and dot every i!

You may have to wait a while for the promise to be realised because God’s timing is not our timing.  For Him, a thousand years is as a day.  So if He says “wait a minute”, it’s hardly reassuring, but be patient and endure temptation.  God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.  James 1:12

I met the man who was to become my husband shortly after this chapter but had to wait seven years before we were brought together.  He had been very specific about what He wanted in a wife.  The wishes that He gave to the Lord covered both sides of a foolscap page of paper.

I matched everything except height.  He wanted a woman who was the same height, and I wanted to fit under his chin, although I hadn’t written that down.  So I told him I should have won on that point, because he got two pages while I only got one paragraph.  I’m happy about the Lord’s choice and it really doesn’t matter about what I didn’t get to write.  He matched on everything I did write.

My only grumble would be in the romance department.  On Feb 14th I jokingly said “Its Valentine’s day, what will I be getting?”  We celebrate our anniversary a week later so it’s no big deal.  He’s got a goofy American guy who has been in NZ since he was thirteen, and his reply was “my dinner”.  Yes, he makes me laugh.