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He’s not my king. I’m not his queen. 

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“The fair only comes once a year, and it isn’t October so stop moaning,” my elementary teacher used to say to us when we were complaining about something not being fair. I have this pesky little problem with wanting fairness. I’ll find myself in a foul, snippy mood and realize I’m counting what I’ve done compared to my husband to see who’s pulling more weight. I, of course, find hundreds of noteworthy things for my side of the list. But then my memory conveniently fails me when it comes to his side. Marriage being this 50/50 relationship makes sense in addition, but it doesn’t work. And it’s not what we are called to.

This morning I was reading in Esther. The short version of the story goes like this. Esther is queen, and her uncle Mordecai overhears about an assassination plot against the king. He alerts Esther who alerts the king. Meanwhile, bad guy Haman, who works for the king, notices Mordecai isn’t bowing down to him like he’s supposed to. Haman’s pride runs rampant, and he plots Mordecai’s gruesome death and the death of all Mordecai’s (and Esther’s) people, the Jews. Esther goes before the king to save her people, and the king asks her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given to you” (Esther 5:3).

This is how kingdoms and kings and queens worked, a tenuous balance of egos. Because any more than half would have made her more important than him. The balance of power would have been thrown off. And it seems this is how many of our marriages are functioning, each of us making our demands and offerings up to half the kingdom. But a King would come later who wouldn’t look like any king prior. He would look like a man sawing wood. He would look like a man breaking bread. He would look like a man washing feet. He wouldn’t look like a king. He would look like a servant. And he wouldn’t act like the kings they had known either. He would be powerful but self-controlled. He would be just but always loving. He would come not to be served, but to serve (Matt. 20:28). He would come to give his life away–all of it, every last dying breath. Not up to half. No, God would give everything, His one and only Son. And that Son would give everything–every right, every shred of dignity, every last drop of blood for us.

And then after the Son was resurrected, and He returned to the Father sending the Holy Spirit to dwell within believers, Paul would put the pieces together for us in Ephesians 5 and forever raise the bar for marriage.

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. 

That’s not a 50/50 arrangement Paul is speaking of, and there’s no half my kingdom going on. That’s two people breaking every selfish desire and pouring every ounce of their service into another person, two servants forming one body.

It takes no effort at all for me to be selfish. (Exhibit A: my grumpy attitude when I get woken up in the middle of the night by one of our children, but he sleeps peacefully right beside me never hearing a thing. My true colors are usually very clear.) It takes daily time in His Word and prayer (and for this very stubborn person, a lot of learning the hard way and saying I’m sorry) to love with a love that is patient, kind, and does not envy. A love that does not boast and is not proud. A love that is is not rude, self-seeking, or easily angered. A love that keeps no record of wrongs and does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. A love that always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. A love that never fails (1 Cor 13). This is way more than half the kingdom.

I mess up (a lot) but God is faithful to transform our hearts when we bring our hearts to Him. There isn’t a day that goes by that God doesn’t show me some area of selfishness. I never like it when I see the ugliness in my heart, but I’m glad He brings it into the light so He can mold this messed up person into something beautiful. Every time I pray Scripture for my husband, God binds my heart closer with his. Prayer makes saying I’m sorry easier. It makes forgiveness easier. It makes holding my tongue easier. (Notice I said easier, not easy. The struggle is real when you’re feisty and stubborn like me.) I love looking back at the prayers I’ve prayed for Matt and seeing how faithful God has been. If you aren’t already, could I gently nudge you to claim a verse and pray it over your husband today before you close your eyes for bed? (If you don’t know which one to choose, you could start with 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.) Take a picture of the verse, and make it your lock screen on your phone. Write it on a sticky note, and stick it in your wallet. Use a dry-erase marker, and write it on your bathroom mirror. Pray that verse every single day for him. God promises us that His Word will not return void. I’m convinced our greatest act of service to our husbands is to pray for them. Not halfhearted prayers, but prayers from a heart surrendered completely to the One who first loved us.

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  1. Elissa, met you at Colonial Heights ladies nite out last nite. Spoke to you right after you finished talking. Once again I wanted you to know how much you touched my heart. In the midst of some real turmoil right now, and you told me things I really needed in my life right now. Also wanted to tell you about my adoption story. Had miscarried when my son was about 5. He was so excited about having a sibling. Had always told me if anybody ever left a baby at my hospital to please bring it home – he wanted a baby sister. Well, one nite after teaching my childbirth class, a woman came up tome and I immediately recognized her from my childhood church. She told me that she was bringing a girl to classes who was living with her at the time. She was arranging for her baby to be adopted thru a good friend who was an attorney. They came to most of the classes and as we talked again one nite when the little girl did not come with her, I jokingly told her that if I ever decided to adopt a baby, I would know to call her. Then one afternoon several weeks later, she called me out of the blue. She told me she needed to place a 16 yo who was expecting. Her husband was running for an elected state office, and she just could not take on another situation right now. She said she was sitting in church praying about what to do about this situation, and my name popped into her head. She asked if my husband and I had ever considered adoption, and if we would consider it and let this little girl stay with us and adopt her baby. I was floored, and told her I had never really thought about adoption, and would have to talk with my husband about it. My husband and I talked and he said I just really needed more information and needed to talk more about it with her. So the next afternoon in her living room, we were on our knees praying about what to do, and I felt a real peace about doing this and called my husband and asked what he thought about it and he said he thought we could with the stipulation the girl and her family did not know we would be adopting her baby. So in March, Tonya came to live with us. She became a member of our family, and in
    August, delivered a baby girl with me as her labor nurse. She had been staying at home and not going to school so no one in her small north Mississippi town would realize she was pregnant. Her dad was a prominent educator and the family was desperate to keep this secret. Delivering when she did, she was able to go back home and start school on time and no one ever knew. She told her Mom that things had gone so well, and the only thing that could have made things better, was if my husband and I had adopted her baby. She felt we could give her the kind of home she wanted for her child. My adoption miracle was 6 pound 3 ounce Anne Elizabeth. And, as I said, God had a real sense of humor. after a miscarriage and years and of procedures to get pregnant without success, 18 months after Anne was born, I discovered I was again pregnant, and delivered another baby girl. God had a plan for this child and for my life, and I don’t think we would never have considered adoption I don’t think had we not endured the miscarriage and so many unsuccessful attempts at having another child. It was His plan I wanted to share the rest of my story with you after hearing you last nite. Wish I had videoed you last nite to be able to listen to your words of joy and wisdom again. You are God’s blessing to my life, and to many others, I am sure. Many blessings to you and if you find it possible, would ask that you pray for me as well. You shown a lite on a path I hope to begin to follow in my life that will bless and hopefully, alleviate the fear and turmoil I am experiencing at this point. Hope you continue your mission and that one day I can hear your witness again.

    Reply

    • Angie, thank you for sharing your story!! Wow, our God is so amazing, isn’t he? I would be honored to pray for you! Thank you for the encouragement. I am incredibly grateful.

      Reply

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