"Has it been hard?"
Oh my, yes.
I searched for words to adequately describe the work required in a marriage. The tremendous effort. The sacrifice. The death of most expectations harbored in a teenage girl's heart. Knowing their limited life experience would give no point of reference, I let the cliche' Marriage is hard work tumble past my lips.
They didn't get it. They won't until they're in my shoes, looking back at a commitment that's lasted for most of my adult life. Marveling at God's grace. Knowing there's no way we would be standing here without Him.
Yes, there are still goosebumps and winks and stolen kisses. There is laughter and passion and respect. There is also foolishness and selfishness and pride. We may be perfect for each other, but we are far from perfect. We are sinners, this man I love and I.
I read the words of Zechariah, and I see the picture of us.
In the whole land, declares the LORD,
two thirds shall be cut off and perish,
and one third shall be left alive.
And I will put this third into the fire,
and refine them as one refines silver,
and test them as gold is tested.
They will call upon my name,
and I will answer them.
I will say, 'They are my people';
and they will say, 'The LORD is my God.'"
-Zechariah 13:8-9 (ESV)
We are a marriage of three. He, me and Him. The three of us work together, carving away everything that isn't Him. It is a painful, arduous work that won't be finished. Not here.
As two individuals are cut away, the remnant is placed in the fire. Melded together in the furnace, a far better offering. In the scorching fire, our parched throats cry out to Him. We plead for deliverance. We praise His Name.
At just the moment when we can bear the heat no more, He tenderly pulls us out. He wipes off the soot. Allows us to rest, cool. Then with the love of a Father, He gently begins carving again.