We went to the gym as a family today. It’s a new stage of life for us. Both of our sons are now tall young men. My husband is the resident personal trainer and all things fitness in our family. If it were up to me, we’d all just put on flip-flops and go for a long walk with the dog, stopping frequently to notice tiny flowers growing in crevices. I’m not a fitness junkie by any means, but being married to one, I’ve learned to enjoy the benefits of exercise.
My husband and are polar opposites in personality and we don’t share a worshipful response to Christ. Sometimes it feels like we have nothing in common. But after 25 year I’m learning to see the common grace and bridges between us. Places we can meet and enjoy together. The gym is one of those.
Last week I declared Sunday nights family night. An action in response to the convicting words of my sister. In telling me a story about a family member, she brought up eating together once a week at the dinner table. She wasn’t aiming her suggestion at me, but it was aimed right at me. We hadn’t eaten a meal together at the table for years. Here we could surely find a 6 by 3 foot bridge to bring us together.
I easily fall into the trap that says, “There’s no point in saying anything. Nothing’s going to change anyway.” So telling my husband and teens Sunday nights are to be reserved for our family at the dinner table at 6pm, was an invitation from my familiar enemy, reminding me he was set, ready to snare me when my plans all fell apart. But thanks be to God, they all showed up at the table and we actually laughed and had a meal together. It was really good.
Today’s sermon at church was about this very thing: the sovereignty of God. It was hard to hear to be honest. My 25th wedding anniversary is approaching and through much turmoil, my husband and I are still married, but he continues to reject Christ. “I’m just not interested in all that Sheila….” I’ve heard it many times. I cried most of the sermon. My pastor talked about Jacob wrestling with the man of God. I thought about God’s sovereignty, my husband’s unbelief, our 25 hard years together and my heart swelled with grief. “How come you won’t just do it Lord!” I pled. “Why won’t you set your love on him now? What if you never do?”
My anger was exposed at the proclamation of the gospel of the all powerful, pierced hands that saved me. My angry heart threw a fit and raled against my Savior’s power and omniscience. And then I felt the place where he makes me limp. I felt the pain of knowing I can’t wrestle with God and leave unchanged. He is God. I am not. I don’t understand. I want to give up, but what in the world does that mean? Give up what? Hope? For what? What I can do in my limp to make things the way I think God should make them?
I left church with puffy aching eyes and burning throat. Sunglassess covering my anger before I got out the door. I couldn’t come up with an answer that satisfies by the time I drove home so I laid down like a child and slept. I thought, “God, what else can I do?” as I resigned my body to the helpless state all flesh requires.
I woke up thinking about the bridges between my husband and I, and that today is Sunday- family night- my enemy mocked my hopes. God hadn’t poured out any magic while I slept. He’s not my genie in a bottle. So I got up and went for a bridge. “Let’s go to the gym guys.” Everyone balked. It’s become easier for everyone to stay in their own elelctronic-device corner. But they came. They got in the car and we went to the gym. We all did the same workout. Together. At the end, my husband frustrated with our youngest because he wouldn’t do the exercise the right way, threw his hands in the air and said, “Son, you don’t know what you’re saying. I know the right way to do this. You don’t.”
And that was it.
That was God’s answer.
“I know the right way to do this daughter. You don’t.”
In the car on the way home I turned to my angry son and said, “Do you believe dad wants what’s best for you son? Do you agree that he knows more than you about working out?”
He nodded a surrendered yes and then threw in a, “But he’s not doing what he’s telling me to do!” Still wanting to get a satisfactory answer for his complaint.
“But if he knows more than you, and he wants what’s best for you, can you just trust him and do what he says?”
And then I took the while-you-drive Deuteronomy 6 opportunity.
“It’s the same with God son. We don’t understand why he’s doing what he does or why he tells us to do or not do certain things, but he’s God. He knows more than us. And he’s good. He’s got our best in mind. So we can trust him.”
That’s when my husband piped in, “One thing though son, I’m not God.”
Hello! Hello Sheila! Dope slap to the forehead moment. Are you listening??!!
I guess I’ll keep going to the bridges and trusting that my Dad knows more about men’s hearts than I do. And he’s good. I can trust him.
Lord, you know. You heard me this morning. You met me in that car. You taught me through my son. And you spoke through my husband. Please let the words sink in.