When Israel was a child, I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son… I taught Ephraim to walk, Taking them by their arms; But they did not know that I healed them. I drew them with gentle cords, With bands of love, And I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them. (Hos 11:1, 3-4)
From my parents’ retelling of childhood stories, old photographs, recollections and memories of the past, I can piece together some parts of my childhood. And some things, though unsaid and un-narrated, I can recall. Because both my parents were working when I was a year old or so, I lived with my maternal grandparents for the first few years of my childhood after I turned one. Inherent in those years was an old memory, or rather an old feeling I recall – a constantly longing I had for my absent parents while we were apart, especially my mother. Though there was nothing more I could ask for while I was under my loving grandparents’ care, I often missed my parents and would sometimes fall sick because of that, according to my grandmother. I had everything I needed or could ever want, but I missed my mother. That feeling is hard to describe. But it did make me a pensive child in my earlier years.
I never thought I would ever broach this subject in writing, because I feel that I am the least qualified candidate to do so. Firstly because by the time I had been baptized in Christ in our church, I had strongly decided that marriage was not for me. I felt that it was enough for me to live for the Lord and serve Him all the days of my life. At that time, I had just passed twenty and gone through a tough period in my life. But ever since I prayed that to God, He impressed upon me in prayer that I was to get married. I humbly yielded and told God that I would marry whom He arranges for me. And that was the beginning of my change of mind, and the gradual forming of my perception of marriage in the Lord which I am about to share here.
But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” (Mk 10:38, cf. v39-40; Lk 12:50)
The baptism that Jesus was referring to here is not water baptism, but the baptism of trials and suffering. When I was young and an unbeliever, I used to wonder, “Why are good kids bullied in school? If the problem is not with them, why are they ostracized for being good?” It took me a while to realize that such kids—coming from good, loving, and often privileged homes, who are meek, good-tempered, and usually bright—are frequently the target of bullies because of jealousy. This is often inexplicable, but the human psyche is not easy to understand. Is it better then for them to renounce their good nature or privilege just to avoid the bullying? Of course not.
Awake, awake! O sojourner,
Stir your heart from spiritual slumber
Resting weary in battle deep
He promised He would come for us
That He would not tarry, but come.
Not long ago we promised Him
(as He, too, promised us)
to love and cherish forever the One we love
Awake, awake! O dejected soldier,
Be not in your heart dismayed
Are you tired before the enemy great
And cannot see the path ahead
Put down your heart’s burden
Let Him carry thee and find thy rest Since the time He lit a flame in my heart to live and die for the self-same Cause It was a covenant between us
Awake, awake! O you scribe who battle with pen
And not the sword
For the ink dwindles and revelation is scarce
Though the herd stalls are vacant and the olive tree fails
It is His Spirit that inscribes
Not ability or tongue of men The heart hopes for the day of the marriage feast For “I have seen the consummation of all perfection”
We’re too far in to turn back.
Dawn breaks in the darkest night…
Like the fledgling eagle learning to fly
In quietness and trust that He provides:
Step. Drop. Fly.