As we have looked down the road towards our future life, I have “warned” God so many times that I am not all that great. For the life of me, I don’t understand why He would call me to be a missionary. I am NOT that Christian with the pristine past. The girl who kept her virginity until I got married. The one who never let a cuss word pass her lips. Certainly not the lady who never set foot in a club only to be bent over the toilet for the rest of the night. My history is messy and it didn’t end the day I decided to try this “Jesus thing”. Marriage only intensified my flaws to an unbearable, disgusting mix of abusive words, manipulation and craziness. Each year of our first four years of marriage, I found out that I was pregnant again. With the birth of every child, I could feel my heart cry out with the same burning question “Why would you bless me? Who am I?”. Nobody really. Only a steward.Jeremy’s work contract ended early on January 15th, 2016 and this caused me to call into question everything I understand about provision, protection and stewardship. On our wedding day in May 2010, I thought Jeremy was promising to protect me and provide for me for the rest of our lives. As far as I know, this is a pretty common understanding. So, when Jeremy was laid off the first time, after a week of being a “supportive” wife, my true feelings came to the surface. The man I had placed in the role of my provider, had let me down. He had failed at providing for me and our three daughters (one still “cooking”). In April 2015, Jeremy was laid off again but this time I was supportive for a WHOLE MONTH before freaking out. Each time, I couldn’t figure out how in the world God expected me to genuinely support my husband while combating my very real feelings of disappointment in him. Maybe I should give a bit of background? Jeremy is the hardest working man I have ever known. I have watched as he worked 70 hours a week, only to come home and load the dishwasher, listen to me and the kids (FIVE OF THEM), and hop back on the phone with other programmers to help them with a project. I have watched him go out to haul gravel while covered in poison ivy in 100 degree weather. He is a BEAST. Each time a lay-off has come, I have known it is not due to any fault on his part but just that budgets have been cut. It happens. When Jeremy came home in January and informed me that his contract was terminated early (along with other contractors), I was determined to be his proper Helper, no matter how long he was out of work. As those familiar feelings of disappointment began to creep up, I dug in deep and discovered some new truth! Remember how I believed that Jeremy was my provider and protector? God began to show me the trap I laid for my marriage. First of all, I would react like I was a victim. I was betrayed, let down, fearful and angry. “Here I am, with five little children, and he can’t keep a job! I know it isn’t his fault but it is his responsibility!” As the Lord dissected my soul, He was kind enough to inform me of His findings. I wanted desperately to be safe and secure. He flooded my heart with scripture:
“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
“Let me dwell in Your tent forever; Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.” Psalm 61:4
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.” Proverbs 18:10
Then the Lord drew my attention to two facets of His being in scripture: Jehovah-Jireh and Jehovah-Nissi. It was in the moment God provided a ram for Abraham thus, sparing the life of Issac when Abraham deeply understood our Heavenly Father as Jehovah-Jireh – The Lord will provide. Praise the Lord for this amazing testimony of His provision! Genesis chapter 23 contends that God is not only one that provides but it is in the very fabric of His character. Then again in Exodus chapter 17, this time with Moses, God reveals His very being. When Joshua overwhelmed Amalek as Moses (with arms held up by Aaron and Hur) stood with staff held high, Moses named the place after our God – the protector, Jehovah-Nissi. The word. Nissi is so powerful, it means so much more than simply a fence to keep the bad stuff out, it implies One that will hunt and destroy the enemies of His kids. INTENSE.
That got me to thinking… Where DOES scripture say that my husband is my protector and provider? Maybe 1 Timothy 5:8? “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” There you go right? Husband, you don’t provide for me, you are in BIIIIGG trouble! Well, just one problem, God told me to look at that little word “his”. “His” indicates that this scripture is specifically talking to the fellas right? Not so! The first time that word is used in this passage it is the Greek word “idios” meaning his or theirs – not specific to only men. The second time the word is used, it is the Greek word “oikeios” that means “the household”. “His” is only added the second time to make sure the reader knows that “the household” belongs to someone (silly English language wanting to make sense!). As I continued to question the Lord about this, He would draw me over and over again back to Jesus’ words in the Gospel. He continually challenged his disciples, soon-to-be-missionaries, to depend completely on our Heavenly Father for their protection and provision. He urged them to leave and not take an extra shirt, money back or coat with them on their journey. Stop focusing on your hunger and your need for rest, Dad will take care of that! Did He tell them to abstain from marriage? Or to keep from having a family? Nope. So, how could they provide if they had a family? God really had me on my spiritual toes! Then He dropped the bomb:
What is your husband’s name? “Jeremy Peter”
Does HIS name mean Provider? “No Lord”
Does HIS name mean Protector? “Um, No”
So, what IS my husband called to do exactly? This amazing little book, only 6 chapters long, is jam-packed with great instruction!
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.” Ephesians 5:25-30
Jesus came as a servant. He was humble to the point of giving His own life as the ultimate act of love. God is so so cool ya’ll! He knew that my little ‘ole heart is moved to pursue holiness through the receiving of radical love! I am a total lover. Cuddles, smooches, and sacrificial love makes my world go ’round. God created Jeremy to love me as an encouragement to be holy and blameless – to be presented as a jewel in his crown before his Holy King. God created Jeremy to steward me (and our children) as a gift. The word husband is commonly used as a noun but it is also a verb – to husband is to conserve. Conservation requires an attitude of proper stewardship.
Once I repented for loading a heavy burden on Jeremy that was not his to bear, I was able to be the ultimate “helper”. He can bounce ideas for provision off of me and I can respond with no fear or ulterior motive. I no longer felt that sense of panic because my need for protection and provision was firmly placed at the Lord’s feet where it belongs. Instead of monitoring how many phone calls have come in for potential jobs and constantly pressuring Jeremy for answers (that he doesn’t have BTW), I can freely pray for my husband with complete respect and Godly submission.
Back in December, I asked God to increase my faith and relationship with Him. He responded to my request while listening to a podcast of Corrie ten Boom, “Sarah, if you are asking me to make you a great woman of faith like her, then you are asking Me to put you through the great trials that produce that faith. So, consider it all joy.” Through this very minor trial, God lovingly moved my husband to his proper place so I could put my faith in Jehovah-Nissi, Jehovah-Jireh. My Protector and my Provider.