Thoughts from Jake, President and founder of Kingdom Hoops and Kingdom Cares International, and my husband. :)
Yolked Together for the Purposes of Christ....
She likes details and organization. I thrive off of chaos. She has a place for everything. I like to leave things everywhere. She watches Biggest Loser and House Hunters International. I watch the NBA and the NFL. She likes to exercise. I like to think that someday I will exercise again. She likes the Olive Garden. I like buffets. She wakes up early every morning to read her Bible. I like to read my Bible throughout my bathroom breaks each day. She likes to get dressed up to go out. I like to wear baggy shorts and shirts a size or two too big.
I asked her to marry me. She said, “Yes,” and our journey to God had just begun. As we have walked through marriage together the past seven years we have realized that we really have nothing in common. We laugh at how we balance each other and prevent one another from losing our respective minds. There are times we both wonder how God ever brought our two worlds together because you could count on one hand the things that we have in common.
However, like anything that God does he knows exactly what he is doing at the exact right time. Who would have ever known back in January of 2001 when we started dating we would be where we are at today. But, God knew exactly what he was doing as all things come together for the purpose of God’s plans.
In 2001 when we first met I had a God named “Basketball.” The words that came out of my mouth were certainly nothing Holy and pleasing to God. Janel was also walking with the world as her world was centered around late night college parties and hangovers the next morning. In the midst of us being sucked in by the world God was calling our names and designing a plan for our lives. He put people in our path, a church on our journey, and provided the necessary grace we both needed.
Slowly we turned from our sin and the way we used to live. We got married not really knowing who this God was that we were following. During our first year of marriage we were both struggling to find our identity. We had heard of God’s promises of marriage through scripture. During our wedding our pastor read to us, “That man will leave his mother and father and will be firmly bonded to his wife, becoming one flesh.” (Matthew 19:4-5) However, I did not really know what God was talking about. It sounded cute and nice, but surely we would not truly become one. I knew that a man should love his wife as God so loved the Church (Ephesians 5:25) but at the same time I was so confused what all this meant. Although there was confusion in mind and on my heart, God was preparing us for quite a journey through our marriage.
Our first year of marriage was bumpy to say the least. God was teaching us a new way to live but we both still desired the ways of the world. We would sin! We would fail each other! We would fight! We would deny each other of communication! However, through it all God began to mature us, change us, and yolk us.
Now it is August 2011 nearly 10 years from when we first met and seven years since God first desired for us to become one. We are now walking through a village on the other side of the world hand in hand that neither of us had ever heard of prior to a couple of years ago. We are in a continent that Disney movies are made of and a place the general population of the United States fears.
As we walk together there are children following us everywhere we go. There are people from the United States who came along with us to use their gifts in this far off land to build medical clinics, put on sewing seminars, and most importantly to share the Gospel.
It is now a cool day in August and as we stroll through the village there is our God ready to use us again. We meet Nana and he takes us around the corner for Janel and I to meet two orphan girls’ that we instantly feel will one day be our daughters. Together God has started to open our eyes to what He sees. We see sick children, we see hopeless men, we see desperate women but together we are also seeing a God that is full of grace and mercy. We see a God that so loved us that he sent his only Son to die for us on the cross. We are stinky, sweaty, dirty, and tired. We are hungry and have not eaten lunch all week because it’s impossible to stare into the faces of the starving children tagging along with us, and then fill our bellies in front of them.
It would be so easy to quit. It would be so much easier to hide out in our little town in Iowa where we can have perfect control over our lives and our family. But, that is not what God wants. Instead hand in hand God keeps us going. We keep moving together through His power and strength. Each day over these past seven years God has led us and led our marriage. We begin to understand what He meant by becoming one flesh. It does not mean that we will have everything in common. It does not mean we will fold the bath towels the same way or read our Bibles in the same way. But, we do know that together He wants to share the Gospel through our marriage. He wants to use us to provide a Hope in something more. He wants to use us to be his hands and feet here on earth. He has allowed us to be yolked together for the common purposes of Christ.
We still have little in common when measured by the world’s standards. However, we have everything in common when measured by God’s standards. He used an adoption, chance meetings, and a world full of unknowns to allow our flesh to become one. He took our fears and our inhibitions and allowed us to rely on his strength and power as we walk this walk together with Christ. I had so many wonderful moments while on this last trip to Ghana and I could not begin to explain them all on a blog. No matter how many stories I could tell and exciting moments I could share, nothing could explain the way I felt walking through Asikuma holding Janel’s hand knowing that God has allowed us to become one flesh for the purposes of Christ.