[So grateful for the following article from Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Marriage, A Lifelong Marriage, and Cherish, who has graciously shared our story on his blog today.]
A few weeks ago, a good friend of ours texted both Lisa and me to ask what was going on. She had had a terrifying dream about us the night before. “You and Lisa were in this tall tower,” she explained, “and this red plane was headed straight for you. I could see both you and Lisa overcome with sorrow and the plane was aimed right at you to finally take you out, but we couldn’t find a way to get into the tower to help you. I spent most of the night praying for you two. I couldn’t stop crying.”
God had “outed” our pain, so to speak, so we shared the details with her. When I later explained all that was going on in our lives to a counselor (I hadn’t been to one in over twenty-five years) and then sheepishly told him about our friend’s dream, he paused and said, “Uh, do you guys have anyone who can pray for you regularly? Because I don’t think that dream is too far off.”
Because the situations (there are multiple) don’t involve just us, Lisa and I don’t feel free to share the details widely. But we have certainly felt targeted from just about every angle we can imagine and since I began meeting with that counselor, an entirely new front has opened up so apparently the “red plane” hasn’t run out of fuel yet (and prayers of protection and conquering for our entire family would be most welcome, as God leads).
Perhaps that’s why I was primed to be enthralled when a publisher sent me an amazing book of devotions to preview: Jeff and Sarah Walton’s Together Through the Storms.
We all know the biblical Esther was made queen “for such a time as this.” I believe God can also use books for such a time as this, and in the extraordinary turn of events our world has seen in the past month, I can’t imagine a more appropriate, helpful and encouraging book for marriages than this one. I believe God inspired it and prepared it just in time, as I am sure many couples, now more than ever, are facing multiple challenges and “red plane” attacks of their own.
Here’s the beginning of their story (and their book):
We remember it like it was yesterday. The sun was shining, everyone was smiling, and, other than the fact that the DJ played the wrong song for our first dance (which we eventually laughed about), it was as close to a perfect day as it’s possible to be. I was twenty-three. She was twenty. Sarah and I were young, we were in love, we were excited, and we were ready (or so we thought) to embark on a life together.
We didn’t expect life to be perfect, of course—but we naturally assumed our marriage would be filled with more of the “better” than the “worse.” So with stars in our eyes and big dreams for what the future would hold, we confidently vowed:
“ I take you … to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for as long as we both shall live.”
That was nearly sixteen years ago. Little did we know that those years would bring chronic illness, financial loss, job loss, special needs, suffering children, overwhelming stress, and the marital strain that accompanies each. We never imagined that we’d experience so much of the “worse,” “poorer,” and “in sickness” parts of our vows.
The Waltons’ marriage barely got a chance to breathe before they faced a monumental challenge. What is often a very happy time for couples became terrifying for them:
Less than three years into our marriage, we excitedly welcomed our first child into the world. All was going well until he spiked a fever and was hospitalized with a severe infection at seven weeks old. After five days in the hospital with terrifying, inconclusive reports, we were sent home without answers. We thought it was an isolated incident, but over time it turned into years of life-altering neurological challenges that have forever changed our family’s lives. Every day, we helplessly watched as our sweet, smart, funny little boy would turn into someone else, displaying behavior that was extremely difficult to control and navigate. Countless consultations, tests, and evaluations left doctors shaking their heads, and all we were left with in the end was an increased financial burden, a stressful home life, and growing fears for him and us.
This wasn’t just a tough challenge, it became a long-term challenge and might even turn into a lifelong challenge, depending on God’s healing mercy. But in many ways the Waltons had just begun their season of storms:
Continue reading here.