A very common theme at Wrenn memorial Baptist Church is, “We have been blessed!” How good it is for God’s people to remember that! The song, “Count Your Blessings,” really sums it all up for a Christian. Why don’t you take the time to count the blessings God has sent your way over all the years of your life? One of the problems we have as Americans, is we have forgotten how blessed we really are and exactly where those blessings come from.
I cannot forget what God has done for me and the truth is, I have deserved absolutely NONE of His wonderful gifts and grace. Why would He so bless this man, who for so many years was narcissistic, self-centered, angry, thoughtless, violent, and hostile to just about everyone he met? I used to say, quite honestly, “I hate everybody but my immediate family, and some of them I’m not too sure of!” Why would God not just squash me like I deserved? Yet, He pursued me in the most surprising ways.
Tomorrow, August 1, Beth, and I will celebrate forty-two years of marriage. Go ahead and say it, “Bless her heart!” It hasn’t been easy for her. When we married, I was the man I described in the above paragraph, but for some reason, she loved me! And I can honestly say, she is the greatest way God continued to show me that despite all I was, He loved me too!
Beth has had to endure a lot. When we married, I moved her to a four-room house on Poe Mill that had no air conditioning, two 1 x 3 closets, a 6 x 6 bathroom, and absolutely NO amenities. I left her every night at 6:00 to work at a warehouse with no certain time to return home. Most of our early life together, she was alone.
She gave birth to our first child, Megan, by caesarian section, after laboring over forty hours. Because of the long labor and the doctor’s constant probing, Beth got an infection that kept her in the hospital for two weeks, where they tortured her as they attempted to remove it through antibiotics, and numerous injections. They finally wound up having to rupture the pocket of infection by reopening her incision and draining it with a long needle. That happened twice. I was really concerned she was going to die, and she almost did.
Twenty-three months later, she gave birth again by c-section to Jimmy, who was born with several hernias. Our wonderful doctors made light of his condition, and promised he would grow out of them in time. But, when he was seven or eight months old, Jimmy’s largest hernia strangulated, and he had to have emergency surgery to save his life. Beth stayed with him at the hospital and cared for him faithfully until he could once again crawl on his own.
Twenty-six months after Jimmy, Rebecca was born, again by cesarian section. When we found out she was pregnant, Beth told a close family member who replied, “I don’t know why you’re having another child; you can’t take care of the two you have now!” Needless to say, when she got pregnant with Jonathan six months after Rebecca was born, she didn’t tell anyone; we moved to Texas! She delivered our fourth child, again by c-section, at All Saints Episcopal Hospital. My parents came for a week, and then she was left to take care of three babies and a new-born while I went to seminary.
At that time, we had four children all under five years old, I made four hundred dollars a month, with two churches supplementing my income with an extra three hundred dollars a month. Beth would wash our clothes, and hang them up to dry on a make-shift clothesline in our 10 x 10 bedroom, because the wind was so bad where we lived, the clothes would wrap around the line and not dry, or would blow off and have to be retrieved from the yard. Yet, she made us feel like we were living the best life ever!
Beth believed in celebrations. Birthdays, anniversaries, every holiday became times to eat cake, play games, and create wonderful family traditions! She packed our home with love, and spent time with each of our children on a one-by-one basis. It was while we were a thousand miles away in Texas that we “jelled” as a family and it was because no matter what we experienced, no matter where we were, Beth made it home. She always has. It has been through her life, her love, her commitment to Christ, that I have seen the overwhelming blessings of God in my life.
But Beth did one other thing: she prayed for me constantly. Her prayers broke me and brought me to Christ. She might not agree with what I wanted to do, but she followed me everywhere I felt God was leading. And all the while, she was praying. In her love for me, I saw, I experienced, I received the love of Jesus Christ, so, yes, I have really been blessed! So, I say to my beautiful wife of forty-two years, “I had a dream when I was younger, I never thought it would come true; but my dream had its fulfilling, on the day that I found you!” Happy anniversary Beth! And thank you Christ for my blessing!
Proverbs 18:22, “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing and obtaineth favor of the Lord.”