My husband and I will celebrate ten years of marriage later this year. Our anniversary has always been a time to reflect, celebrate and remember the goodness of God in bringing us together, and growing us together. As we approach this year's milestone anniversary, we feel able to see far beyond what we have in the past, and it is a magnificent mountain top view.
God knows best
My parents, both faithful followers of Christ, have had a wonderful influence on my life and on my own walk with God. My father often gives the reminder to "look up (to God)", and my mother always encourages that "God can use anything". Recently, a visiting pastor to our church shared his testimony of growing up in a Christian home, recognising the countless instances of God's hand in his life, and the blessing of having five generations of believers in his family. I related to this in recognising the blessings of my own Christian upbringing. I have seen God at work in my life since I can remember, and I have my own clear understanding of God who knows us best and knows what is best for our lives.
Heading into my final year of medical school, I had an amazing ministry and training opportunity come up. As my parents spent their university years as full-time missionaries, I had always also considered doing the same. One day, while praying about this opportunity, I felt God say "stay and finish medicine".
I completed that final year, and with that one direction, God answered a lot of other prayers. I married my wonderful husband and have, in the last ten years, seen more and more why it was that God brought the two of us together. I learnt that there are incredible opportunities to shine for Christ and bless people in the workplace, and came to understand the privilege of partnering with those serving God in many different ways and places. As for everything I thought I would learn from that "missed" opportunity, it turned out God had all of that and more for me to experience through my local church, just spread over a few more years.
I am still recognising new testimonies in my life of how God knew things I could not see and guided my every step. He knew that my husband would be the perfect companion in faith to encourage, challenge and grow me, and to parent alongside me. He knew things about my heart, about the people around me and about situations I would face that I could not have anticipated. I am reminded time and time again of how God knows best, and I am so thankful for how He leads and guides my path through life.
For better and for worse
My husband and I wrote and memorised our own wedding vows. While we added some personal elements, we also included traditional lines such as "for better and for worse". Like any other marriage, we have certainly experienced better and worse in many ways! We have had our hearts and character tested, walked through hurts, disappointments and celebrations together, and navigated a variety of emotional, physical and situational hurdles. What an adventure! Through it all, we have grown to understand each other more completely, appreciating both the strengths and weaknesses we each hold.
Someone gifted us the book "The Meaning of Marriage", by Tim Keller. I have since lent, bought and gifted the same book multiple times to various people. It is full of wisdom for both singles and couples alike. In the book, Keller writes:
"Marriage has the power to set the course of your life as a whole. If your marriage is strong, even if all the circumstances in your life around you are filled with trouble and weakness, it won't matter. You will be able to move out into the world in strength."
Jesus at the centre
One of the songs we sang at our wedding was "Jesus at the Centre" by Israel Houghton, Micah Massey and Adam Ranney. It had the lyrics:
Jesus at the centre of it all
Jesus at the centre of it all
From beginning to the end
It will always be, it's always been You
In preparing for our wedding, we picked songs that would reflect that we wanted our lives and marriage to be centred and rooted in Christ Jesus. We danced our first dance to a musical arrangement that reflected this, the lyrics declaring Christ as our "cornerstone, our centrepiece." Some years later, a wedding guest recalled this declaration and asked us how it was going.
Our prayer is that we would stand firm on the cornerstone of Christ for all the years we live, and that despite the influences and pressures around us, we would always choose Christ.