Do not fret because of evil men
or be envious of those who do wrong;
What do you do when you’ve done everything you know to do? What do you do when your tried-and-true system, which has worked before, doesn’t work this time? How do you respond when God makes a promise and you’ve seen it fulfilled – but this time it doesn’t seem to be “working?”
Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
They’ll laugh when they read this, but I sometimes call Kaye and Mark, whom I love very much, Barbie and Ken. From a distance, they have a storybook life that looks like an 8×10 glossy. Kaye was a Baylor Beauty; Mark was a quarterback/safety for Frank Broyles’ University of Arkansas football teams. They married, settled in Little Rock, and had four beautiful children.
Delight yourself in the Lord
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Mark and Kaye weren’t just church wallflowers. They are committed followers of Jesus. Each with a rich spiritual heritage, through the years, each has risen to places of spiritual influence and leadership, both in their church and in the Kingdom. Added to that a great career, great respect in multiple communities, and an unflappable demeanor, and they were, to me, poster children for how God blesses his people who serve and obey Him.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
When I married Kaye’s sister in 1983, they had two beautiful little girls. Mark’s brother helped me get our engagement ring. I’ve often wished we lived closer. As our families grew, they added two more – a boy and a girl – as we had our three.
As is often the case in families, parents who love the Lord seek to raise their children consistently, faithfully, and with unconditional love. And, as is often the case, sometimes one or more of those children struggle with that.
Julie, whom I met when she was still a baby, had a series of life challenges over the last 25 years. And they seemed to come from everywhere. She would tell you today that some of those struggles were of her own making. Others came from some medical needs that went undetected for a time, but are wonderfully treatable today. Still others appeared as an attack from the world in various ways throughout her life.
Life was mean – mean – at times to Julie. Was it God? Was it Satan? Was it other people? Was it Julie?
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
The climax of all that came four years ago, when Julie became a single mom. She moved back home, and gave birth to a precious little boy, Mason, who has some special developmental needs.
What would you do if, to your knowledge, you had done everything you knew to do as a parent to raise, protect, inspire, and instill values into your children, and bad things kept happening? My temptation would have been to fret, to get angry, or to go over the top to try and “fix” everything. Or, I would have been tempted to question my own faith in God.
Mark and Kaye just kept loving their daughter. They never compromised their convictions, or gave up on God themselves. In fact, they did just the opposite. They leaned in. They waited patiently.
They gave God time to fulfill His promise.
Did they do it perfectly? Heck no – would you? But they loved and waited nonetheless.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret — it leads only to evil.
For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
Over time, due in no small part to the love of her family, Julie came to see that God still loved her and that she could still be loved and love herself.
Meanwhile, there was a guy. Julie met him at church. He was a bit older, established in his career. He was a friend. But he kept reaching out. He understood her. He loved her, and he won her heart. And oh, how he loved that little boy!
This past Saturday, I had the honor of standing next to this guy at the front of a great church in Little Rock, and watching that little boy walk to the front of it. We wondered if he’d ever get there; this kid’s world revolves around monster trucks and loving people. And he seemed to want to stop and smile at every one he passed.
Then the door flew open again, and standing there with Mark was one of the most radiant brides I’ve ever seen. And as more than 500 people stood in her honor, the Holy Spirit whispered something to me I’ll never forget:
This is a love that redeems.
When Mark said, “Her mother and I,” never have those words carried more meaning. It was a sacred honor to be a part of that.
Oh, and care to guess what the groom’s name is?
His name is, “Christian.”
Twila Paris’ song, “How Beautiful” about the body of Christ says this:
How beautiful, the radiant bride
Who waits for her groom, with His light in her eyes.
I know I’m getting mushy as I age, and that I’ve long ago made peace with weddings (a rant I’ll save for another time). But this one was special. It was all about redeeming love.
Redeemed by parents who didn’t quit. Who continued to do the good they knew to do, to trust God for what they had yet to see, and to give Him time to finish what he had started.
Redeemed by a little boy with special needs who loves monster trucks and people – in that order. But first and foremost, loves his new daddy and mom.
Redeemed by a man named “Christian” who understands his new wife and loves her completely.
Ultimately redeemed by a Savior who keeps a different kind of score – and thank God He does.
(Scripture from Psalm 37, NIV)