My alarm clock was going off. It was time to go running. The baby was calling out “Momma” in the monitor, so I snuck into a dark nursery and grabbed her out of her crib and snuggled her between us in bed. I looked over to see the Firecracker and her crazy bedhead backlit in our bedroom door. You leaned over and said, “Happy anniversary.”
I love that ours is a story of November. You asked me to marry you with the maples ablaze, and a year later we tucked those same fiery maple leaves in boutonnieres for you and your groomsmen. I looked up what the traditional gift is for the 11th anniversary. It’s steel. And while it might seem less than diamonds or crystal or something traditionally gift-worthy, I kind of think it’s the best gift ever.
Because you can’t make steel without fire, and you can’t go through eleven years together without pain. We are promised suffering in this world, and while we each carry a different story with different pain, as believers it’s a guarantee that there will be pain. There will be fire. But it’s the very process of going through the furnace, searing hot and licking flames, that gives steel its strength and tenacity. It’s been eleven years since two twenty-one-year olds stood before family and friends to make a covenant between each other and before God Almighty. Eleven years of walking through the fire together, eleven years of God refining us through this gift called marriage.
Maybe the gift of steel isn’t something tangible you give. Maybe it’s something you build, deep within yourselves, within your family. Two souls saying yes to the One who first put a fire in their bellies. Two souls who know the soul-refining weight of grace. Two souls who have walked through the furnace of pain and waiting and sanctification.
Whenever I think of fire, I think of the story I first learned as a child about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
“If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18 ESV)
And that’s where we find ourselves on this November day as we celebrate eleven–like two pieces of iron waiting in the fire. But we know the God we serve. We know He is able. We know that with every degree of heat He is refining us into steel. And we know that no matter what we have given Him our yes. We will serve Him and only Him.
And the thing is, when every day you wake up and give God your yes you don’t have to worry about giving your spouse your yes. It just comes with it. This thing God created, this thing He’s refining, this covenant relationship we are living out–it is an overflow of the daily yes we give God. The daily surrender to His plan. His sovereignty. His fire.
I’m proud to stand beside you in the fire, Matthew Hudson Roberts. Ours is a story of November, and I’m flattened with gratitude that it is your hand holding mine as we wait and pray and watch God move. I heard this verse this morning on my run, and I thought it was the perfect gift from our good God on this our 11th anniversary.
“My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. ” (Job 42:5 NIV)