Looking back . . .

Years later, children, and a memory that an unknown God had somehow answered my prayers; no, the cries of a pain filled heart; that’s when I began to feel a drawing to find out Who this God was.  Together, she and I felt we needed God in our lives.  I was on a personal quest of two years to find my way to God, but He was so foreign to me, and I was clueless as to how to look, and very stubborn in my worldliness, as well.

However, what I did not know is the He was drawing and guiding me through events and persons to eventually have the climax of a glorious salvation experience on a Wednesday night in my home, as two members of the former Bristol Street Baptist Church, Bill and Jan Hart, came by to share Jesus.  I found Him in my living room; I have never been the same since.  Ruthi was saved on Friday, and we joined that church on Sunday morning.

I joined a young men’s Sunday school group led by a young man who quickly became my first and best mentor, Larry Moody.  He challenged me with loving Jesus more than anyone else in the whole world.  I remember thinking, “I haven’t enough love in me to love my wife as I should, and he wants me to love Jesus even greater?”

In my quest to learn of Jesus and what it meant for me to love my wife; He led me to the passage below:

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the Church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the Church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the Church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.  (Ephesians 5:22-33)

Sadly, most men, and far too many pastors, stop reading after verse 21.   “Wives, submit to your own husbands.”    I know one such pastor who wrongly interprets this to mean that he must whip her in line, because she is an evil person.   Because so many falsely interpret verses 22-24, I want to begin at verse 25 and following to reveal what God taught me about being a husband of His design and purpose.

Let me present to you in a nutshell the picture of a God-following husband.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for her.”

In this verse and those that follow, we are told that we husbands, who are followers of Christ and His teaching examples, are to love our wives in the same ways Jesus loved and loves His Church.   So, that is where we begin and end our quest to fulfill this mandate; we must know of His love and loving actions toward the Church, then be willing in commitment to fulfill them all if necessary.

Foremost, Christ provided and continues to provide everything that His Church needs to mature and survive in such a way that He alone is glorified by her, the Church’s life.  This is holy teaching by word, deed, and example.  Help your wife, out of pure love and motivation, to be the best Christ follower she can be.  This is spiritual nurture at its best.  It is a heavy responsibility for the husband to fulfill this obligation to the highest caliber in the lowest humility. This will mean that the husband must also be the best Christ follower he can be.

This will also include helping her with physical needs so that she may live the best possible life within a fallen world.

But secondly, let me bring out a higher commitment that often goes unspoken or thought of sacrificial protection of your wife.   “Just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for her.”   The only way that the Church could come into existence was when He gave His life for her, then resurrected Himself to a new and immortal life, then lastly sending His Spirit to live in the Church through individual Christians within the Church.

The husband must be willing to die for his wife in at least two ways.  First, and probably the most to be expected, is to be willing in this marriage relationship to die to self and selfishness.  His God-given gift, that being his wife, must be his priority within life-long commitment.  She is his priority right under his priority to Christ.  In this marriage mandate, the husband best serves God in it by serving her needs above his own.  It is not that he becomes her slave, but he becomes whatever she needs to be spiritually fulfilled in Christ.  He lives to make her thrive in Him.  He lives to see her righteously happy.  He delights in her delight.  He lives to love her in such ways that she can fully rest in the knowledge and experience of his love for her.  There will be willing sacrifices.

But secondly it must be also understood, the husband is to be a sacrificing protector of her life.  This may never be realized, but in many ways it may.  An example I use in pre-marital counsel is that if there is a present danger that is threatening her life, he as husband in covenant relationship (marriage), would do all to stand between her and the threat, even the laying down of his own life if it were necessary.

The most usual way this sacrificial life would be played out is to be her sacrificial, giving, loving, caregiver if she were in a health need, whether this was life threatening or simply short-term but burdensome.   “Just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for her.”  

Now in reality, if a wife knew that this was the kind of love her husband was committing to being, to the best of his ability, then for her the verses, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the Church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the Church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything,” would not be a burdensome expectation.  Yes, this is her mandate regardless, but when there is genuine, God-defined love in the marriage, both parties can easily, without remorse, fulfill God’s demands.  It all hinges on the verse before which we often ignore: “submitting to one another in the fear of God.”  (Ephesians 5:21)   That is a mutual submission; the same loving submission to one another as to Christ Jesus.

52 years of marriage?  I would like to say that I, we, have fully lived up to all that I have spelled out here, but the road is long and winding.  However, I can say with confident assurance, we each strive to do these things to the honor of each other, and to the glory of God.  I try to let my Sweet Ruthi know in many ways and words every day, that I love her and that she is the most beautiful person I know.  I live to make her laugh and feel a sense of joy and security in this difficult world with all its challenges. I work very hard to show Ruthi selfless love, and I enjoy that work very much. I know I must improve on this each day even as my sanctification grows each day. It is not enough to love her privately with this kind of love, but I must also love her before the world with this Christ like love. It is my goal to make her known to the world as the woman I love with all that I am, because she is.

I want our kids and grandkids, our friends and our church to see the joy we have in each other. I want them to see this kind of love exists to those who are in Christ and willing to sacrifice.

Ruthi is my love gift from my loving heavenly Father, and I will always cherish her. She is and has been my only love, and lover; there has never been another, nor will there be.

52 years?   I could only hope it could be 152 years; she is that special to me, because God Himself handed her to me as His personal, hand-picked gift to complete my life.  I must not try to find fault with God’s gift; He is the giver of perfect gifts!

To my special gift from God to me, my Sweet Ruthi:

My sweet, I want to share with you that you have made my life so much more worthwhile. I have grown as a person because you are in it, and I am a more loving person because I have watched and learned from you, as we both have learned from our LORD.  We were blessed to have the kids we have and continue to enjoy. When the LORD saved us and called us in a new direction of life in ministry, you never hesitated to follow His lead. We have had many challenges, but you have been a great partner all the way through. I am certain our LORD has a special reward for you, as you surely have earned one being my life partner.  I love you with undying love!

To you who have endured my memories, hardships, and journey toward spiritual maturity, which we are still traveling toward the upward call, thank you for the many kind words.

Know this: the only way for any marriage to succeed and grow is to “Submit to God.”  (James 4:7); “I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”  (John 15:5)

There is no other way to love anyone rightly!

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Jerry McCullah has been involved in various prayer ministries since 1993 and is currently pastor of Green Valley Bible Chapel of Green Valley, Ca. As CSBC Prayer Consultant, Jerry McCullah is available to assist churches and associations in the training and development of personal prayer and prayer ministries, through consultations, seminars, concerts of prayer, and prayer revivals. As Impact Prayer International President, Jerry McCullah is able to work across denominational and international borders to do the same. Jerry: God has called me to encourage Christians into a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ; one that is real and personal, which comes through a life of prayer. The world needs praying people! God seeks praying people! I am available to assist your churches in the training and development of a personal prayer life, and church prayer renewal, through seminars, prayer retreats, concerts of prayer, and prayer revivals. My passion is to excite Christians to the possibilities prayer opens up before them. With God all things are possible! Would you give me the honor to work with you to the fulfillment of these words: “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven . . . deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:10,13)? Let’s schedule something for your precious people! Contact Info: 15724 Calle Hermosa Green Valley, Ca. 91390 661-270-9671 https://www.facebook.com/jerry.mccullah https://jerrymccullah.wix.com/ipi-prayerconsulting

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