Today is my Beloved’s birthday.
This is a man whose kindness friends told me about long before I ever knew him. The first time I encountered my dear one was at an early morning Easter service. I’d hoped to meet him that day.
I skipped the lively charismatic services that I was used to, and, for the first time in my life, attended a liturgical church. I didn’t quite know how to juggle the psalm book, hymn book and bible. Compared to the sweet Reformed mothers, my skirt was self consciously too short. The worship was a bit…boring.
Then Shane got up to read Isaiah 40. “”Comfort, yes, comfort My people!,” says your God. Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her. That her warfare is ended. That her iniquity is pardoned…” He could barely get through the passage without weeping and I realized three things in quick succession: 1) this is a man who has been apprehended by the heart of God 2) the Holy Spirit doesn’t need a praise band to show up, He can come as a quiet whisper to a tender heart 3) This man was a kindred spirit and I wanted to know him better (or like, stalk him and marry him and stuff).
We never actually met that day. That came later, hilariously, after I became friends with his amazing, fiery mother, who asked me point blank one day if I would like to meet and marry her son. Eight months of me awkwardly and “accidentally” showing up at his parents house whenever he was there, one crashed wedding, and a funeral later, we were engaged.
A friend warned me to read about his medical condition. At the time Shane and I married, the best guess at it was Friedrich’s Ataxia (FA). That would have put his life expectancy at 10-15 years. God told me it would be ok, so we went ahead and got married. That diagnoses changed several times over the course of our marriage, extending hope a bit more each time. Just last month, technology finally caught up, and genetic testing revealed one of the mildest forms of ataxia, one that does not affect major organs or lifespan, but balance and vision.
I remember those early days of our marriage, though. The fellowship was so sweet, I would cry myself to sleep every night at the thought that we would ever be apart.
So fast forward 12 years, to another Easter…
Two battle hardened pilgrims lay in each other’s arms, planning the assault on the next day. Children have to be places at times. We are having a birthday party for Shane. The house is in desperate need of a good scrubbing before company arrives. A million details chase each other in my mind: deposits for our home business, library book due dates, meal plans, lesson plans, and the rest. I ask Shane if he will take the kids to tomorrow’s church activity so that I can stay home and take care of “bidness” Shane interrupts my reverie with a question: “Were you supposed to do a devotional for the egg hunt tomorrow?”
That feeling of juggling twelve balls and being thrown a flaming baton. I’m still not sure if I committed to do a devotional, I think I might have, and that is what I’ve sat down to write. I love kids ministry. I love talking about the love of Jesus. I hate forgetting shit that I am supposed to be doing. I hate that I overcommit then break vows cause I can’t remember where I am supposed to be, when. Shane watched my reaction for a few seconds and responded with: “The Lost Coin and the Pearl of Great Price.”
He watched my eyes dart back and forth for a moment as I tried to reconcile Easter eggs, the love of Jesus for the lost, and our love response to Christ in laying down everything to follow him. Really, it is all about Easter. Everything is about Easter, and this is where is comes together: God’s love is big enough to find us in any place our feet may wander. He finds us even when we weren’t looking for Him. His love is deep enough and wide enough and great enough to meet us in any place. Oh that we had hearts big enough to even begin to comprehend it! Our Savior, our Bridegroom who will never be parted from us, our Friend, HE loves us! He invites us to sweet fellowship with Himself. Then He invites us to love one another in the same way that He has loved us. We are the Lost Coin and the Lost Sheep, but He is the Pearl of Great Price, the best egg of the hunt, if you will, and as He has loved us, we run after Him.
“As the Father loved Me, so I have loved you; abide in my love…This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant doe not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends…”
So, now to tie lots of big thoughts into a little 3 minute object lesson involving a pearl and a plastic egg… and I still don’t actually remember if I’m supposed to be giving a devotion.