I went to the Waffle House (WH) at 6:30am this morning to meet a person who did not show up. So I sat at the bar next to a senior-aged black man who is a regular at the WH. Not his real name, however I will call him Dave for this post. It turned out that Dave was who I was meant to sit with this morning and listen to. In a few months Dave will be married to his wife for 48 years. I will call her Martha. They married right after high school. The first 13 years of their marriage was great and normal. What he thought marriage would be like, what “he signed up for.” Then Martha was impacted by a degenerative nerve disease that ran in her family. She became depressed, suicidal, emotional and moody. She has been hospitalized 68 times in the 35 years since she was effected by the disease for various periods of a week to 2 months. Dave said Martha will be one moment engaged and joyful, and then the next depressed and saying she does not want to live anymore. In this state she takes things out on Dave and says hurtful things to him because of her condition. Dave says it hurts him inside but he knows it is the disease and depression speaking, not his wife. Martha has gone through all types of different medicines and doses with only brief or sporadic help.
Dave said the 35 years of marriage since Martha’s disease changed everything has been a challenge. Sometimes a deep struggle. He has had to forgo allot of travel, and normal activities couples do together like going to a dinner and a movie because his wife since the disease hit her hardly leaves the house. His 50th Class reunion is this weekend in Mississippi that he would love to attend, but because she is “not good” now he can’t. Yet for the past 48 years, with 35 of them being difficult, he has remained faithful to his wife. He has a strong faith in Christ, and he said he made a covenant before God and his Martha that he will not break. He said, “Do I have moments and days I thinks this is not fair? Yes. That I got more years of the “worse” out my vow of “for better or for worse?” Yes. That I miss going out and enjoying my wife’s company? Yes. Have I had occasional thoughts of leaving his wife? Yes. But he loves Martha. Loves God. And remains faithful to both. I told him he was a good man. He said I hear that allot however I am not. Most days I do not know what I am. He told me thanks for listening. Most people can't tell the difference between listening and loving. And we listen because we love.
We prayed together and after I did I thought I have no reason to complain about any of the struggles I have had in my marriage or my life. Any percieved bitterness in my marriage was now sweetened by my morning interuption with Dave and God.
Good morning, Lord Jesus. Put Your thoughts in my mind and Your desires in my heart to align my steps with Your path for my life.
"Then Moses ordered Israel to set out from the Red Sea and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter. That is why it was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, 'What shall we drink?' He cried out to the Lord; and the Lord showed him a piece of wood; he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet" (Exodus 15:22-25).
In You, we're on a spiritual journey out of the bondage of Egpyt, through the wilderness, and into the promised land of our destiny. And along the way we can grow weary and worn. We can give in to the negative attitudes of murmuring and complaining and criticizing. We can let our faith waiver as we begin to forget Your faithfulness for salvation and deliverance so many times before and start to lose our vision and hope for the destiny You've set before us. We focus on the cup of bitter waters we may be drinking from in the present.
But You are the God who makes our bitter waters sweet. Just like You showed Moses a piece of wood, you remind us of a piece of wood. You remind us of Your cross. The power of Your cross and Your sacrifice of love for every one of us is the power of God for our salvation, for our healing, for our deliverance that refreshes us and renews us to continue the journey. Just as You showed the children of Israel that day, You show us every day You are "the Lord who heals you" (Exodus 15:26).
In You, I can "taste and see that the Lord is good!" (Psalm 34:8) In You, I can remember that just as You were with me before, You are with me now, and You will be with me through whatever I face on the journey ahead. You are "the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). You'll "never leave (me) or forsake (me)" (Hebrews 13:5). You are "the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End ... Who is and Who was and Who is to come, the Almighty!" (Revelation 1:8 NKJV) You are "I Am!" (Exodus 3:14) And You're always with me -- always making my bitter waters sweet! (Matthew 28:20) In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
My ODC family, May you drink deeply from the Living Waters every day, from the One who makes your bitter waters sweet, in Jesus' name! Please pray the same for me. God bless you, my friends!