Looking Back with Joy
I’ve spent a lot of time looking forward lately. Retirement adventures. Moving to a new state. But yesterday was my oldest daughter’s fortieth birthday. Usually, I spend her heaven day, September 13, at my favorite place, San Clemente beach and pier. Since we move only 3 weeks before then, I took the day off from packing, packing, packing, and spent the day looking back.
Van went with me. We told our favorite Kimberly stories. The one about the time Van insisted she clean out her car before he helped her put in a new window, only to discover underneath the trash piled in the back seat, grass grew from the floor boards. A bag of rat food, mostly seeds, sprouted.
The time her sister, Erin, doing the dishes, said she needed Kim to finish clearing the table. “Go help your sister,” we cajoled, “We don’t want to see your face until the dishes are done.” And, since she still needed to clear the table, she came back with a paper bag over her face.
Happy stories. We laughed with tears streaming down our cheeks.
Looking Back on God’s Faithfulness
“Despite our sin, God gave us a beautiful gift,” we agreed. We hadn’t planned on getting married when we did. I needed to finish my senior year at UCLA and then do a fifth year to earn my teaching credential. Van wanted to get rid of some debt.
Instead, I got pregnant. Our plans changed in an instant. Not quite sure how to proceed, we talked to our youth pastor. “You’re already married in God’s eyes,” he said. First you need to talk to your parents and let them know. You also need to talk to Dr. Thomas, the senior pastor. Then we’ll talk again. We made an appointment and went to do what Jerry told us.
My walk with Christ was fairly new. I had never spoken with Dr. Thomas, who seemed larger than life to me. But his response to our situation taught me much about the love, forgiveness, and compassion of Christ.
“Go and sin no more.” No intimacy until the marriage vows. “Even though in God’s eyes you’re already married, you demonstrate your commitment to a new beginning.”
“No white dress.” A white dress symbolizes your purity, and an off-white dress will show your forgiven before God.
Use the chapel instead of the main sanctuary. Again, a symbol. Our wedding would be small, still a celebration, but only our family and closest friends. People who supported us and showed how God comes along side at all times.
All of that sounded easy. We only had 3 weeks before the wedding; due to my college schedule, I wanted the ceremony to be at the end of the second week of classes so I’d have all the syllabi but not miss any midterms given during week 3.
But then, Dr. Thomas told Van he had to go in front of the people involved in his two ministries-choir and college group-to publicly confess his sin. I wasn’t a member of the church, so I didn’t have to do this. Just Van.
On Sunday morning, I sat with our college friends, while Van stood in front of them. He told our story and asked for forgiveness. As he finished, Dr. Thomas-the only time I ever saw him in the college Sunday school class-stepped forward. “To all of you, I remind you of Jesus’ Words, ‘Let he who is without sin throw the first stone.’ I never want to hear another word about this. You know the story now. Van and Debbie are forgiven. There will be no gossip. Treat them as the loved and forgiven brother and sister in Christ they are.”
And just like that, we felt the weight of sin and fear disappear. We never heard another word, except congratulations and celebration.
As Van and I spent time looking back on our beginning, we both realized the wisdom of Dr. Thomas’ choices for us. We learned the importance of confessing sin and being truly cleansed from all unrighteousness. Instead of starting our life together under a cloud of whispers, we could face our new life with security in unconditional love.
Looking Back on God’s Love
God is always good. We gained not just one beautiful daughter, but two. Erin arrived 20 months after Kimberly. In five months, we celebrate 41 years of marriage.
I never have to be afraid to go before God. He always welcomes me with open arms. There may be consequences, but forgiveness is complete. I can walk forward with confidence and celebration.
And so can you.
Linking this week with Tea and Word Tuesday God-sized Dreams Moments of Hope Glimpses of Beauty, Monday Musings, Inspire Me Monday, Ra Ra Linkup, Trekking Thru, Tell His Story, Writer Wednesday, Woman to Woman, Porch Stories, Coffee for Your Heart, Chasing Community, Heart Encouragement, Tune-in Thursday, Salt and Light