When to Pursue Marriage

"So how do we know when to pursue someone for marriage?  When we do not need marriage. When we are full and growing in our relationship with Christ, then and only then, are we really ready for marriage. Adam did not tell God he was lonely. In Gen 2:18 God said, 'It is not good for man to be alone, I will make him a suitable helper.' Elizabeth Elliott was asked how she found three husbands. Her response was 'I did not find any husband because I was not looking for a husband.' God will determine our need and readiness and will lead us to marriage when the time is right." - R.D. Hodges, The Greatest Adventure I Never Dreamed Of (forthcoming)

The Reward of Family

Here is another excerpt from the book I'm helping R.D. with, The Greatest Adventure I Never Dreamed Of."

We were not supposed to be able to have children. So after twelve years of childless marriage, I was astonished to find out Elaine was pregnant. I wondered why she was pregnant after all these years? WHY? And who was I asking “why,” anyway?

Elaine asked for a year leave of absence from her job as a teacher. I couldn’t wait for the year to be up so we would have two salaries again. We had just built a new home and this pregnancy was not convenient for our budget. It was critical for her to begin work again to support our lifestyle. A friend of mine asked me if Elaine was going to stay home when the child was born. I said “NO! She will work like everyone else. We have a house to pay for and a life style we like.” In my mind, our new baby was destined for the world of daycare.

I was there when the baby was born. I went through all the birth training, but I was not really prepared for what I experienced. I was not prepared to see the extreme effort of my wife through thirteen hours of labor. I was not prepared to see the wet wiggling babe being place at her breast moments after birth. It gave me a picture of love I had never before seen. At the moment of birth, I was changed for the second time (the first was the brilliance of the created beauty of my first brown trout). I knew that there was something greater than man. I remember the sweat on her brow and the tired look to her features. More than anything else, I saw a depth of caring and joy in her eyes that I had never before seen, or even thought possible. This was a new thing for me, and it changed me on the inside. I was changed by the deep, unconditional devotion that I saw in a mother’s eyes for her firstborn child. I saw a mother’s love.

There was something about this experience that was supernatural to me. How could a man and woman come together in marriage, love, and passion and make a baby like this? This little wiggling boy was a part of me. As I stood for the first time with my son Tanner in my hands, I knew that there was a greater good. I actually saw creation. I did not just feel love, I saw it.  For a moment, my personal desires and knowledge were neutral and I could see beyond myself. I knew there had to be a Creator.

After we took Tanner home with us, I continued to be stirred by Elaine’s gentle love for our son. Her commitment to meet his needs never faltered under the extreme, unending demands this little person placed on her. Despite (or maybe because of) these new responsibilities, she was more content and at peace than I had ever seen her. My love for her and this tiny person began to grow. I was beginning to see that life could be, and maybe should be, about more than me.

One day, as the time drew near for Elaine to go back to work, I was walking through our home when she reached out, took my hand, and got down on her knees. I was confused and my first thought was, “What in the world is this woman doing?” She looked up into my face and I saw great tears forming in her eyes. With a trembling voice, she said, “I will do anything in this world if you will let me stay home and raise our son.”  Now with tears streaming down her face she begged, “Please, please, please.” Then, for the third time in my life, I was changed on the inside. It felt as if an arrow pierced my heart and soul. It was the deep, penetrating sense of her love for Tanner. Never before had I seen this kind of passion from any person about anything. Unknowingly, she had just discovered the greatest calling in her life—being a mother.

So we sold the new house. I left the job I loved more than anything in the world to run a business that I thought would provide more than a teachers pay. I didn’t know anything about that business and soon found that I hated it. So I sold it and bought a second business I knew nothing about. The second business was a little less stressful, but still very demanding. The rewards of changing my job were great. They were not financial rewards, though; they were much more important than that. My reward was my family.

Afraid of the Dark

I am editing a book for my friend and co-pastor of our church, RD Hodges. It is titled, The Greatest Adventure I Never Dreamed Of. Here is an excerpt we are still working on:

There were a few black bears that would pass though our woods, and even tales of “panters” (panthers) that would scream in the night. Just the thought of these was enough to keep the footsteps of a young boy quick to the house when night was near.  With big-eyed terror lurking in my imagination, I would only feel safe when our front door was shutting behind me as I came in after dark. I was afraid of the dark.  But, I was a boy growing into a man; I was not supposed to be afraid.

I grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and spent most of my childhood in the woods. One Saturday I left before first light, as I had done many times before. I had that itch to rush off, to go and hunt, to explore and discover, to hide myself in the woods.  Full of excitement and a spirit of adventure, I was off to hunt squirrels. But this time, with a body growing strong and lungs deep with the fresh morning air, I set my heart on a ridgeline far—further than I had ever gone before. It turned out to be a fruitful day of hunting. I had harvested a pouch full of squirrel and a grouse.

Late in the day, thrilled with the new territory I was covering, I shot and wounded another squirrel. This one was crippled so it could not climb. I chased it on the ground, down a ridge, until it went into the ground under a stump.  I had been taught that you never leave a wounded animal. So I began to dig.  Some time later, I was able to get my hand into the hole and grab its legs. Never in my experience before or since have I been able to understand how I could not pull that squirrel out.  I was tired after a long day. I was sweaty, dirty, hungry, and in tears because I couldn’t get the wounded animal out.

As I finally gave up on the squirrel, I realized that it was almost dark.  Terror struck my heart. I had never been this far before; I didn’t even know exactly where I was. But I knew that in a few minutes it would be dark, and those bears that pass through the woods and those “panters” that scream in the night would be out. I squeezed my 16-gauge shotgun, my only source of comfort. But I had only three shots left, just enough to make a bear or “panter” mad. I was as good as dead and eaten. As the darkness crept into the woods, I was paralyzed with fear. I took a few steps and then stopped to listen. A few more steps . . . stop and listen. I believed that at any minute I would hear the rush of the bear or the scream of the panther right before I died. Moments in terror seem like eternity in time.

Then full-night set in and, to my amazement, I was still alive. Soon, I was walking slowly with my shotgun up in front, ready to fire at will. Then, walking faster, I accepted the possibility that I might make it home in one piece, though much later than normal. Coming down the last hill to my house, I was walking with confidence—my chest out, my gun down by my side. I had made it.

I had conquered the darkness and my fear. I learned that fear could paralyze a person. But I also learned that many times fear has a lot of bark and no bite. It was a joy and relief to come face to face with the big-eyed terror of darkness and survive! This experience planted a seed of understanding about who I was and what I was capable of. Unfortunately, at this point in my life, the only one I could credit for this victory was me. That night I gained assurance in my strength. This was the first of many steps down a dead end road—the dead end road of my own sufficiency.