Finding a “Good Thing”- Reflecting on eleven years of marriage

Proverbs 18:22 states:

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.”

I married my wife eleven years ago today in a very simple but nice ceremony in Baldwin, MD. It was chaos. She was finishing up college, and I was working to save money for marriage (I had finished up a semester earlier). We were planning a wedding long distance, and while being very busy. We arrived in Maryland to find that some of the things that “were being taken care of” really weren’t. What a mess. We praised the Lord for good friends who traveled in for the wedding and stayed up with us until late the night before helping with last-minute details. As we exchanged our vows before the Sovereign Lord of the universe, I was shaking. Our journey had been a long one…

We met during Summer camp at Northland Baptist Bible College in Dunbar, WI. I had just finished my freshman year at college, and she had just graduated from High School. We worked in the kitchen together. I was in charge of the dish crew (we cranked out some seriously clean flatware), and Karen was on wait-staff. We talked a lot, spent a little bit of time together, but there was no magic “spark,” no love at first sight, etc. We were friends. We had been through the late nights and early mornings of camp, and had labored in prayer over the kids who came, pleading with God to break their hearts over their sin. It was an incredible Summer. On the last day of camp we sat down and talked. Call it a “God thing’ or whatever theological category you’d like, but I asked if I could write to her while she was at school. She said “yes,” the summer ended, and she flew off to another college while I resumed my studies at Northland.

College was a tough period for me spiritually. I struggled with spiritual identity issues (who am I in Christ?). I struggled with besetting sin issues (along with the accompanying, “why can I get victory over this?”) questions. After another year, Karen transferred to Northland, and our relationship developed even more. We studied missions together and loved it. I will never forget some of the teachers and administrators both at college and seminary who came alongside me in a mentorship and sometimes correcting role. Their influence on my walk with Christ cannot be overstated. I also remember those faculty who came alongside during those years who offered horrible and unbiblical counsel. They helped me to see that good intentions don’t mean diddly-poo without good biblical thinking to back them up.

Karen and I were married right after college, and shortly after that moved to Lansdale, PA to begin seminary. I worked on my MDIV while Karen did her Master of Arts and got her nursing degree. After graduating together, our son was born. What a joy! A little over a year later, God moved us from the church where we were serving in PA into a senior pastoral position here in Indiana. Our marriage was tested in those early days of ministry. There were a lot of unhealed wounds within the church, and we went through an emotionally devastating miscarriage the Sunday morning right after Thanksgiving. But God is good. A year later our little Olivia was born. This high was followed by another painful miscarriage. Once again, God is good. As we celebrate 11 years of marriage, Karen is due with a little boy in April.

Through these years my wife has been a rock and a constant source of God’s grace in my life. From looking at missions to heading into the pastorate, she has been supportive. When I was struggling, her love and gentleness were a clear picture of God’s mercy and love. Her encouragement in the week to week pattern of pastoral ministry is invaluable. Our two kids are trophies of God’s grace. We have a church family that is growing and seeing God work. We are falling more and more in love with each other and with our God each day. While I sojourn on this earth as a pilgrim and stranger, I couldn’t dream of a better person to spend it with than my lover, best friend and help-meet. I trust that you have found your “good thing”!