The Lord’s Wedding Gift to Me
When my husband and I got married twenty years ago, our Pastor based the service on Deuteronomy 28. Although this was an unusual choice of scripture for a wedding, I remember being so thrilled as I heard of the fantastic promises of God for those who would walk in obedience to His commandments. It was like having access to an unending wedding gift registry!
Fast forward several years later: three miscarriages, the loss of jobs, persistent asthma, the death of a son, no home or land of our own, no meaningful savings for our retirement. As far as we knew, we were good, obedient children of God. Where were the promises that we were “standing on?” Could it be that, like the elusive Santa Claus, God was a figment of our imagination, or worse, that He just couldn’t be trusted to fulfill my heart’s every desire?
I know I’m not alone in my once skewed interpretation of Deuteronomy 28. I recall a young wife and mother whose family had been undergoing serious financial difficulty. She wept as she wondered why God had abandoned them. She reminded me that she and her husband had sacrificially given the church a big cheque when they once came into some money. Why then wasn’t God honoring their generosity to Him and clearing away all their debt now? How could He allow her children to suffer?
Then there was another young woman who lamented to me that God had failed to provide her with a husband even though she had been involved in church ministry for fifteen long years, had faithfully tithed, and had been praying “without ceasing” for a mate all those years.
We all had embraced Deuteronomy 28 . . . and we had even punctuated our prayers with what many Christians treat as the “magic” words . . . “in Jesus Name!” Abracadabra! Surely, whatever we ask for in His name is ours! We therefore expected to have that godly mate; that our “baskets” would be full; our children saved and doing well; and that we would prosper in every venture we put our hands to. We expected to live as “children of the King!” Yet, look at our lives! Whatever happened to “you shall lend to many nations and not borrow”? To that young couple in debt, it felt more like they were “the tail” and not “the head!” Where was the promise that He would make us “plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers to give thee.”1
As the years went by, I began to understand that God is not my celestial genie; that He’s not primarily concerned about my getting everything on my wish list, but that He has a far greater and more valuable plan for me. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that He is true to His Word and that His desire indeed is that His children should prosper. I know that the promises inherent in Deuteronomy 28 are part of my spiritual heritage as a child of God. What I had not understood is that with my inheritance come responsibilities. What I had not understood is that no responsible parent will hand to his child a powerful inheritance if that child has not been prepared and trained to handle the authority and riches of such an inheritance, lest he squander it.
I am sure that each case may be different, that God may be building faith in one, shaping yet another to love as He loves, or He may be teaching His child about spiritual warfare. In every instance though, the Father is focused on the maturing of His children. No longer just a natural creation, we Christians must learn to walk in the spirit and operate in the spiritual environment into which we gained access when we were “born again.” We must begin to see and understand with spiritual eyes and ears.
I had a sudden leap of understanding when I read “Reap and You will Receive.”2 Suddenly, John 4:35-36 opened up to me. In this sub-section of the book, Working the Harvest, the author reminds us that “He that reapeth receiveth wages.” That immediately took me back to another scripture where Jesus said to His disciples, “seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33). The truth is that, while I may have been growing in righteousness in some measure, my primary focus was not the kingdom of God . . . it was my kingdom: my wedding gift registry, as it were.
For many of us, although we are no longer babes in Christ and may have grown up somewhat, too often we get stuck in that “adolescent” carnal phase, where everything is about me and mine. Being the wise and loving Father that He is, God must use every circumstance that comes into our lives to grow us up into mature spiritual sons, sons who are more concerned with the affairs of the Kingdom of God than with our own self-centered, “flesh- obsessed” desires.
It is not that God does not want to bless His children. He “has placed the bounty of His blessings within our grasp, but we fail to possess it.”3 I’ve come to understand that once we give ourselves over to the work of His kingdom and choose to become reapers of the harvest, we will find, as Austin de Bourg puts it, that we “can make no wiser investment, nor can [we] find a more terrific pension plan.” We will find that He is faithful to pay us wages beyond our imagination.
I’m only now unwrapping God’s revelatory “wedding gift” to me. I know now that if I stay at the place of carnality, I can fall captive to the deceptive enticement of “divers lusts” and to covetousness; I can become a “lover of pleasure more than a lover of God” and I will have “a form of godliness,” but never know the power of my inheritance in Christ.4
1. Deut. 28: 12 – 13 KJV.
2. de Bourg, Austin J., “Reap and you Will Receive,” in Working the Harvest, CreateSpace Independent Publishing, North Charleston, South Carolina, 2014, (pages 37 – 40).
3. Ibid, (page 40).
4. de Bourg, Austin J., “The Supernatural Birthright and Heritage of Christians,” in What Really is Christianity, CreateSpace Independent Publishing, North Charleston, South Carolina, 2014, (pages 55 – 74 ).