It’s been exactly two years since I posted The Most Incredible Woman. We were in Honduras and it was Cathy’s birthday.
We’d lost everything we owned in a landslide just two days before. Most people are baffled that the experience of losing all but our lives and being rendered homeless in the third world became one of the greatest blessings of our lives. Still, I had nothing to give her on her birthday. Nothing that would sufficiently express my love and gratitude that she is my wife. I wanted to tell the world about God’s goodness that is expressed in and through my bride. I did my best in a blog. I am attempting to do the same now.
Today is Cathy’s birthday
But I feel like it’s mine because she is the greatest gift that Lord has ever given me. I may have more in the way of material things to give her this year. But nothing compares to what she has given me.
Our marriage is our ministry.
That’s what I tell people, especially young couples prone to the temptation of seeking their own significance in Jesus’s name.
Quite often the message falls on deaf ears.
Ephesians 5 begins with Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children...and concludes with the mystery of one flesh that is marriage. And while the church has often emphasized Wives, submit to their own husbands, as to the Lord, sometimes to the point of abuse, the overarching emphasis is Husbands, love their wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. The chapter concludes with
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church”.
There is no better or faster way to touch the heart of God and the mystery of Christ’s relationship with His church than in the context of marriage -no easier way to comprehend what God is doing in and through us the Bride of Christ.
We were in Northern Uganda ministering to South Sudanese refugees from yet another civil war. I was a videographer consumed with a self-appointed mission to be a voice for the voiceless. Naturally, I assumed Jesus had called me to teach South Sudanese orphans how to film.
I usually tell people that all I did in Harvest school was repent. The Lord had been stripping me of the idolatry of “my” ministry and “my” purpose when we got to Uganda. Cathy was oblivious to the struggle that I could not articulate at the time and has an entirely different recollection. But I saw it as the lowest point in our marriage. Not because of any discernable problem between us. Rather what God showed me about myself revealed an inner jerk that Cathy had not seen. It made me fear for my marriage. Alas the love of God shines brightest amid our repentance.
At the end of the outreach, one of the base leaders asked these war-torn, traumatized children to say how each of the missionaries had impacted them. Naturally, I expected to hear about videography. Instead, they unanimously agreed that they were most affected by our marriage. They “saw how Cathy and I loved each other” and
“They wanted what we had”.
Our marriage is our ministry.
Everything else flows from there.
If you’ve read The Most Beautiful Woman then you know that Cathy was the forerunner in our mission work. I am Cathy’s husband – her covering. I was more like Joseph with Mary as she bore the Lamb of God.
On the mission field I never completely transcended my tendency to be the proverbial watchman on the wall always on patrol and or the one who just wants to ‘git er done. That’s fine when you have to haul hundred-pound bags of beans or sheets of tin roofing up the side of a mountain filled with potential banditos. But missions is about relationship, not just humanitarian projects. At the end of the day; who cares how many people you feed or house if the occupants are going to hell?
Thank God for my beautiful wife.
Where I am prone to bulldoze the one for sake of the mission, Cathy invariably stops for the one.
That said, she’ll bulldoze through whatever she must to get to the one.
Everywhere she goes she connects with others, especially children out of a pure and child-like heart.
I had no intention of ever marrying again when I met Cathy. We became friends when she heard I might be her key to getting into the jail to minister. “Hi I’m Cathy” she began. “I heard you can tell me how to get into the jail.” “depends on how long you want to stay there…” I almost joked. We started ministering at the jail every Thursday night. Soon after we began hiking together. She’d been fasting for ten days on the first hike. It was sixteen miles on the Kalalau trail on Kauai where we lived. She handled it like a Marine. Suffice it to say, I was more than a little impressed. Nine months later, we were engaged.
Only Cathy would marry a crazy guy like me to spend the next 12 years living with inmates and their children and then tell people that she
felt privileged and spoiled because of it.
I often joke that I had a crush on Marcia Brady as a kid.
I would have fallen head over heels in love with Cathy if I had met her as a kid.
By the grace of God, she didn’t meet me as a kid…
If you spend any time at all with Cathy then you know she is super sensitive to Holy Spirit, and she often cries when she worships, reads, or speaks God’s word, especially when speaking to those who don’t know they need Jesus.
Make no mistake she is the reason for any favor I have with the Lord.
He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD. Prov 18:22
Like a lot of parents with adult children these days we have a son who for reasons unknown to us abruptly stopped talking to her three years ago. It hurts me to watch her suffer as only a mother can.
I’m writing this in hope that he reads it.
But also to dispel any illusion that might lead people to believe we have all our proverbial ducks in a row.
We are just little children. 1 John 2
We have found that God teaches us various aspects of Himself through the process of our becoming identified with His heart via circumstances and relationships. Like Mary with Jesus in the movie The Passion of the Christ,
Sometimes Cathy struggles to let go.
Then she does it with patience, forgiveness, and grace.
She loves her son from a distance and prays that God will soften his heart.
It’s what God did and does with us.
After God and people, Cathy loves anything related to horses. We used to do equine-assisted discipleship at the children’s home where we lived for three years in Honduras. As is the case with people Cathy was drawn to the most broken unwanted albeit ornery teenage horse named Diablo (the devil).
We renamed him Mr. Botangles.
A few fun facts that few people know about Cathy are that she was the Hawaii state Karate champion, she taught Kareem Abdul Jabar to windsurf, and taught our missionary dog Mariposa Loca to swim.
I could go on about all the things I love about my beautiful, fiery, passionate, insanely forgiving, Holy Spirit-filled wife and how she never ceases to amaze me – all the myriad things I have learned by simply watching her… Still, there is one thing that I miss.
I miss seeing the world through her eyes.
While video production was my forte. Cathy loved still photography. Her camera went everywhere with her on the mission field until it was swept away in the landslide. Photography is an easy way to connect with people in the third world if for no other reason than many people have never seen a photograph of themselves or their family.
Cathy never missed an opportunity
She has an uncanny ability to peer into people’s eyes and capture their souls. Unfortunately, nearly five years’ worth of photos were buried under the mud. Thankfully I produced and uploaded this slideshow just before the mountain came down.
If it doesn’t bring a tear to your eye then you might to want check if you still have a pulse.
I plan to see through her eyes again starting today.
Regular readers may be scratching their heads especially since I am so prone to rant over life-sucking self-centeredness and narcissism in the body of Christ.
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
a stranger, and not your own lips. Proverbs 27:2
I am ranting over the awesomeness of my bride the way I believe Jesus will one day rant over His.
For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. Isaiah 62:5
I’m trying to articulate my gratitude to God for the gift He has given me. As usual, words do not suffice
It is through my marriage to Cathy that Jesus teaches me the most about His heart for His bride. It is through her being my bride that Cathy models what it means to be a bride. That is part of the mystery.
and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. Mark 10:8
It is in the context of marriage that the depth of God’s endgame is revealed. The realized Kingdom of Heaven is a marriage.
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready; Revelation 19:7
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:17
And while you don’t have to be married to know and love Jesus, let alone be loved by Him, marriage is the foundation of any Christian community. As far as “community” is concerned, a given Christian community is only as healthy as its marriages.
Everything else flows from there.
As for me, I remain joyfully mesmerized by my bride. It is because of Cathy that I even have a clue as to what it means to love and be loved. It is in her presence that I can most easily appropriate the love of God which is His presence.