Vásárnap este is the Sunday night service at Calvary Chapel Budapest. From time to time, the service is quiet, unplugged, candlelit as young Hungarians--a new generation of believers--worship together.
Five years ago, I attended a wedding here in Hungary as a contented, single woman. I saw the value of a life in which marriage was given up "for the sake of the kingdom of heaven", in which--for me--my kids would be found in my classroom and my family would be of the eternal sort. I even made a joke about not coming to Hungary to get married.
I still do brazenly tell my students to seek God's best instead of automatically asssuming and seeking a married life, but now I can add a bit more grace and understanding for those who hope for marriage. Now, I'm married, myself.
Shocking, but true! Eric and I are into month five of married life and see already how God uses notonly the single people but also the married ones to live bold lives of faith "for the sake of the kingdom of heaven". My heart of hidden selfcenteredness shows up more clearly in marriage; my pride rears its head as I live in such close fellowship. But bringing such sin into the light is a relief and a challenge. There will be eternal ramifications and rewards for this life as well as results in the meantime. I'm learning to love my classroom kids in wiser and deeper ways, and now I get to love my husband, too.
God is using marriage to change my heart.
This growth is a marvelous gift to me as I see more clearly that things "for the sake of the kingdom" are all for God's glory and also my good. I get to benefit from God's goodness and his kingdom work.
These thoughts are still in formation as this life stage is quite new and frenzied, but I wanted to let you know that I am loving being "man and wife".
The ladies of ICSB and the surrounding
community amaze me. Last night, the middle school principal and the school
director's wife hosted an "Around the Clock" bridal shower for me, and 40 people
came. On a school night. For two hours. They brought with them the encouragement
and love of four years, as well as gifts, laughter, and prayer. It was quite a
Eric stopped by to load all the loot into the car and couldn't help but
make lots of shower jokes. Even today at school, he's thanking everyone for all
the soap. In spite of showers being oddities to men, he, too, is so grateful for
the ladies' generosity and amazed at the strong turn out.
Thanks, dear Budapest friends! I'm certainly feeling more bridal.
Simultaneous generosity from a new landlord and failure with a student taught me about grace that is costly and free.
First, as Eric moved into what will soon be our new home together, the landlords made the most unexpected and generous of statements. Regarding rent for the first month, "You don't have to pay." Instead, this school family wanted us to buy things that the apartment needed. "Go to IKEA. Maybe buy some curtains." Really?? A month's rent worth of curtains and fixtures and fixings? What generosity!
I was actually taken aback by the gracious offering. It seemed too good. I didn't want to misunderstand or offend our landlords, who happen to be from a culture different from my own. Surely they didn't mean a month in an apartment for free. But they did. This is the rich abundance of grace.
At the same time, back at school, I was not living in quite the same thankful euphoria. A student had asked me to help with an important task as she applied to a prestigious university. I was determined to get it right for her. Instead, my portion was drawn out and the deadline passed without it reaching completion. I failed, utterly. My reaction was disbelief, mortification, and regret. How could I let her down? This moment demonstrated the reality of my sin.
But God (don't you just love that phrase?) took care of the situation and taught me an important lesson. The student had other teachers also working on the application, and she forgave my hurtful blunder. It cost her something, though. My mistake had consequences. Her forgiving response wasn't easy. This is grace.
God's favor is more abundant than I can really grasp, and he lavishes it on me in love through Jesus. When I actually notice grace, I'm amazed by the power of it to redeem, loose, and equip. At the same time, such grace isn't without great cost. Christ himself faced the utter rejection, the horrible punishment, the agony of my sin.