This spring my husband and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. We are grateful to God for bringing us together and for His grace in our marriage. To celebrate, we wanted to find some trails in Colorado to hike. However, after looking for several weeks, we were unable to find any trails that would work. Unbeknownst to us, God had something else planned. A missionary agency contacted my husband to inform him Albania had requested some medical training in his specialty. The planning trip would need to take place during the time we had set aside to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. We felt God would have us postpone (or forgo) our hiking plans and travel to Albania. Later my husband realized there were some beautiful trails in Albania (Albanian Alps) that we could hike before the planning meetings. God connected us with the right people in Albania to arrange our hikes. The trip turned out to be the best trip ever as we got to celebrate 40 years together, be involved in planning medical training, learn some of Albania’s culture, and share who we are in Christ with various people in various ways. God’s sovereignty, goodness, and wisdom were evident.
When I reflected on the unexpected way we celebrated our 40 years of marriage, I began to think of the unexpected lessons God has taught (and is teaching) me in order to conform me more to Christ’s image through my marriage. God uses close relationships to help us see who we really are without Him. Some of the lessons were harder to learn than others. Some I haven’t learned very well. Some keep showing up in various ways. All of them remind me of my desperate need for God to change my heart to be more and more like Jesus. Following you will find a list of 40 of these lessons that I pray will be encouraging, convicting, and comforting.
Pursue a vibrant relationship with God, pray for you husband, trust God to work through his decisions, give the benefit of the doubt, appreciate your personality differences, appreciate his strengths, pray for God to work in his weaknesses, forgive quickly, marriage is for a life time (divorce is not an option), love his family like your own, serve together, support his decisions, express gratefulness often, respect him, be open to his ideas, encourage him to pursue what God lays on his heart, give him space/time to pursue God, give him time for physical activity, encourage and provide healthy meals, eat meals together, communicate, serve in church, learn who he is, look for things positive he is doing and comment on them, laugh, play together, learn new things together, participate in his hobbies with him, be kind, be sensitive to when to bring things up, honor and support him privately and publicly, speak well of him to others, refrain from bragging, listen, appreciate how God made him, appreciate how God made you, find ways to help, take responsibility for your sins confessing them, and have no expectations.
These lessons seem simple and unremarkable, but God’s empowering grace brings a relationship that reflects Him to the world. I look back on 40 years and am overwhelmed with gratitude that God has brought two sinners together for His glory and their good.