Titus 2:3a,4a – Tell the older women to be reverent in behaviour … so that they may encourage the young women. (NRSV)
During a Bible study class, I learned that some of the older women had asked for and received a verse from God for their wedding, a verse that sustained them through the ups and downs of married life. I had thought that the "Love is…" passage (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) was standard fare at weddings. I was married over forty years ago at city hall, and I wasn't a Christian at the time. The ladies assured me that it was not too late, and they encouraged me to ask God for a verse.
These wise and wonderful women were Dutch immigrants after the war. They spoke no English when they arrived in Canada, but they founded our church, Christian schools, and businesses in town. Now in their eighties, the women still attend Bible study regularly.
A few days later, I was cleaning up my newly renovated basement family room, hoping that it was the last project that I'd have to live with. My husband is not a builder by trade, but he is always building something. We've renovated every house that we've lived in. Renovations are stressful and can test any marriage. I am caught up in the dream, but I hate living with the mess. Countless problems and mishaps occur. But the vision, the planning, and the satisfaction are so rewarding.
I remembered that in our first house, we had written a Bible verse on the ceiling before covering it, a verse that we'd often quoted to each other over the years. I realized that God had already given us a marriage verse!
Psalm 127:1a – Unless the Lord builds a house, the builders' work is useless. (TLB)
It applies not just to a house, but to a person, and to our home and family. We can't build such things on our own — it takes prayer and perseverance. It can be frustrating and depressing. However, it always lifted my spirits when a visitor took an honest interest in how we felt, and spoke words of encouragement.
When I hear of young couples renovating their home, I cringe inwardly at the thought of what their marriage will go through. Still I get caught up in their vision. And because I'm now an older woman myself, I encourage them. I know how much other people's dreams can be revived by our words of encouragement.
I wrote our marriage verse on a piece of cardboard and slipped it beneath the carpet. It was rather fitting that it was used in both our first and (maybe) last renovations. God's words were above us before, and are now below us. Each time we enter the house, we stand on a firm foundation!
Prayer: Father, we admit that we need You. We give all our hopes and dreams to You. Guide us in everything that we plan and do, and help us to bless others by renewing their dreams with encouragement. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Thy Way Not Mine O Lord" (Lyrics)