In the quiet of a snowy night wrapped in winter white, he opened the back door and stamped his feet on the rug. He dropped his duffle bag on the tile of the laundry room where we wash away the dirt and grime of our lives. He called me from the kitchen, for he wanted to come clean, too.
My heart thumped wildly, and I dropped the dishrag. I went weak-kneed to the laundry room. He’d been away at a weekend retreat with Christian men — “Daddy Bible camp,” as we called it.
I expected some news, yes. But these words? I could not have known…
“Jennifer,” he said, and I held my breath. “You’re not first in my life anymore.”
Tears raced hot down these cheeks, at the astonishing and shocking and life-changing news.
These words were bigger than the “I do,” or the
“We’re going to have a baby!” or the surprising
“Yes, let’s move back to the farm!”
This news — that I was no longer first in his life — could mean only one thing. My place in my husband’s life had been usurped by the rightful owner: Jesus Christ.
PHOTO: Our marriage portrait, next to the figurines that graced the wedding cake of Scott’s grandparents.
As I do every Wednesday, I write today as part of Ann Voskamp’s Walk With Him Wednesday series. Weekly, she asks her community of writers to consider spiritual practices that draw us nearer to the heart of Jesus. This month — the month of anniversaries — she asked us to consider the Spiritual Practice of Holy Matrimony.
When Ann assigned the topic, I immediately recalled that day years ago when I willingly fell to second-place.
I almost didn’t write of it today, because my heart breaks for those yoked to an unbelieving spouse. It aches for spouses who hear astonishing words that hurt, instead of heal.
But this morning, I felt the Spirit’s nudge to share. For I am not boasting in the man or the marriage; I’m boasting in the truth of what Christ can do in a man and a marriage.
This is what can happen when spouses fall in love not only with each other, but with the One who is Love Himself.
Christ is not an experience. He is not a mountaintop high at a retreat who transforms, then abandons. Christ is not a feeling. He is the Sustainer.
He is the Reason, and the Hope, and the Peace.
God’s all-surpassing power not only revives but sustains over years. (I’m still the runner-up years later.)
And the right order alters the landscape of a home and a family. Ordered peace tumbles soundlessly over those who inherit what we plant here.
I’d never want anything other than second-place. Never.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” — 2 Corinthians 4:7
Daily, we pass into the laundry room — where first-place rights were reassigned. Above the doorframe of the laundry room: more astonishing words to daily remind us who and what we really are: fragile jars of clay filled with the Love of our first-place Father.
Lord, Let us keep you in first place. Heaven knows You’ve earned it! Amen.