For the past several weeks, in between some great Love Stories, we’ve been taking a fresh look at four reasons for marriage… and four questions to ask yourself while looking for The One… and four areas, which must align in your relationship in order to make a marriage great. We’ve talked about the pillar of Friendship…and the importance of Mission…about Sexuality and how our choices in this area affect just about everything…
And today I want to talk about the forth pillar that lays a strong foundation for a vibrantly God-honoring marriage.
Right at this moment I am sitting three feet away from three of the most important people in my life. Their names are Jude, Moses, and Duke…my grandboys. They’re cuddled up in a ragtag assortment of love worn blankets watching Baloo the Bear dance across the screen in The Jungle Book.
These boys think I can do no wrong. They beg to come to my house, obey me better than their parents, believe everything I say and basically fill my life with more love and affection than I ever thought possible. And in just a couple of weeks I’m going to get two granddaughters to add to this rich tableau.
If that isn’t enough to convince me of the richness of my life with Phil for these past 33 years, I just have to look at the messages on my phone: John Mark telling me I’m just the greatest, Tammy asking for wisdom, Rebekah confiding her heart in me, Elizabeth asking me to join her in a shopping spree, and Matt wondering what time I’m planning dinner and can he bring a friend?
My life couldn’t be fuller. Or better. Or richer.
When Phil and I fell in love we didn’t know much more about being parents than that we wanted to raise our children to love God passionately.
We had no idea how, no clue what to do.
But we set out on a search for wisdom that soon became our center message. Together we read and asked questions and sought counsel and prayed and searched the Scriptures.
We made sacrifices and so did our kids.
We made mistakes and so did our kids.
But under Phil’s leadership and love our family thrived, our marriage became bigger than just us, and our ministry came to encompass a whole bevy of gifted individuals who are now leading their own families in the way of the Kingdom.
And it all started with a vision. And a prayer. And just the tiniest hope that maybe God could do something with us— something magnificent, something world changing.
It was 1981 and we were living in a dingy rental home near Multnomah University while Phil went to grad school. I had a six-month-old baby, no family nearby, no friends, no car, and no money. But just down the street was a fabulous used bookstore in the basement of a decrepit old house. One day while I was perusing the musty shelves for something to read, I stumbled upon an out of print book that changed my whole view of parenthood. With the unfortunate title of, “Marriage to a Difficult Man”, I’m sure Phil must have wondered what in the world was up with me! But this was a biography of one of America’s most influential theologians, Jonathon Edwards.
Towards the back of the book, the author had listed the impact that Jonathon and Sarah Edwards’ family had had on the history of our nation. Generation after generation of men and women of tremendous influence whose mission became bringing the Kingdom into the world in which they lived.
There were politicians and pastors and missionaries and culture changers. Artists and policy makers and ambassadors and even a Vice-President of the United States.
I was blown away.
Two painfully ordinary people who were used by God to affect extraordinary influence on the world.
And we wanted to do the same.
You see we’d come to know the Lord so late in life that the first many years were spent just figuring out what it meant to be Jesus followers. We assumed that our direct impact would be less than spectacular.
But we knew our children would have a different story. And so God put it on our hearts to pray for and work towards and make it our mission to raise up a generation of Jesus followers who would love Him and know Him and be equipped to serve Him in ways far beyond our own limited capacities.
And He did.
John Mark serves Him as lead pastor of Solid Rock. Rebekah and her husband Steve are bringing light and joy and hope right there in the middle of L.A.’s design culture. Elizabeth is pouring into her children and partnering with her husband who is a pastor. Matt spends his days studying theology so he can be equipped for the mission God calls him to.
And we all have huge flaws and embarrassing tendencies. Sin and Satan crouch at the door waiting for us to mess up, just like everyone else.
We do fail, we will fail.
But our family has chosen to hide in the shelter of a Redeemer who uses even people like us.
And now the next generation of passionate Jesus followers are being trained… what will they be? And do? Will their names someday be listed in the back of an out of print book in an obscure bookstore?
Phil and I have chosen to give our lives to this crazy Comer family of ours.
Because with Phil leading and me serving and both of us praying and talking and working and loving and doing hard things, we have formed something beautiful. Something important.
And that, my dear friends, is one incredibly valuable reason for marriage.
And one incredibly important reason to choose carefully.
From the heart of a grateful woman,