The very first time I met Jackie Dunne, I thought, “She listens for God’s voice.” This beautiful woman has the same busy life as the rest of us, but her first priority is meditating and memorizing God’s Word, and it shows. Read her guest blog and see if you sense it. I always come away from my time with her refreshed and encouraged. I hope you will too.
I love fresh starts! September still feels like that to me. It holds all the promise of a new school year, never used school supplies, and crisp books and notebooks. And although I’m not in school anymore, September has that “new year” feel to it. The hope of me having the time to start an exercise routine and actually sticking to it, the grand plan of meals at home and family dinners around the table, quiet bedtime routines and nightly prayers, and finally getting the house organized.
This week, I’m beginning a Hidden Heart Bible Study. It also has that back-to-school feel to it. I love how new friendships will deepen over the next 13 weeks and how together we will get to see what God is up to in our marriages. I can’t wait to see how God’s Word will come alive in real and personal ways for each of us and how we’ll experience His goodness and personal touch.
At our first meeting this week, each of us shared some memory of our wedding day. We told of puffy pink bridesmaid dresses, grand or small receptions, expectations of our mothers, and honeymoon disasters. Many of us admitted that those conversations of “faith” never even happened with our husbands before marriage and that our pre-marital counseling lasted all of 30 minutes. Not always the best recipe for “happily ever after.”
In Genesis, after the words “In the beginning …” comes the word “God.” How many of us would have ever started a new endeavor if we could have seen in advance all the trials, hardships, and ups and downs that we would experience along the way? And isn’t this especially true in marriage? We were such fresh-faced brides, so full of hope. If we could have seen from the beginning to the end, would we have even stood at the altar? If we could have seen in advance how everything would turn out before we said, “I do,” we may never have developed the gifts of faith, hope, love, patience, and humility. These gifts cannot be picked off a tree like ripe fruit, but they are given in the midst of hard times.
And yet, the LORD knows the way that I take. He sees me; He is always with me and working for my good. I preach this gospel to myself today – at the start of a new Bible study and in the middle of a marriage filled with trials, hardship, unknown twists and turns, love, and laughter. The gospel says He orchestrates the “beginning,” and He is the One working in the middle and through to the end. This gospel says that when we know Christ we may not know HOW things are going to go, but under His loving hand, we do know that ultimately, all will be for our good and for His glory. “… He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)