The day was May 30, 1998. The setting was a beautiful park in Chico, California. The event was a wedding, and not just any wedding, but my wedding. On that day, 23 years ago my future husband and I said vows in front of family and friends. Our vows included the promise to love and cherish one another in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer. We vowed to be faithful to one another and to always put one another first. Our vows included all of the typical things said on a wedding day until that defining moment in the ceremony that brought a gasp to the lips of many in the crowd, especially my girlfriends from college. Holding a beautiful bouquet of white stargazer lilies, I vowed to submit to my soon to be husband.
Truth be told, I had no idea all that vow would entail. I also had no idea I had just vowed to do something incredibly difficult. As a 22 year old who had just graduated college the week before, I didn’t know a lot, especially about submission to a husband and what that would look like practically speaking. All I knew at this point was I wanted to marry my best friend and start our life together.
Over the last 23 years, I have learned much of submission. I praise the Lord for allowing me to learn these lessons about submission under the leadership of a Godly man who loves and values my input and opinions. Submission, or the act of ranking oneself under authority, has been made significantly easier because of the loving leadership of my husband. That said, my preferences and opinions are often different than my husbands. His leadership isn’t always perfect. None the less, the vow I made was I would submit.
As a wife who desires to honor the Lord, I have grown in trusting the Lord in submission. I have come to learn that my lack of submission to my husband says more about my relationship with the Lord than it does about my husbands leadership. When I will not submit to my husbands leadership, ultimately I am telling the Lord I don’t trust Him to work in the situation I am so desperately fighting to control.
It also reveals I am not availing myself of the resources the Lord has graciously given me. For instance, the invitation to come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy and grace to help in time of need; prayer which leads to peace which surpasses understanding and guards my heart and mind; thankfulness knowing that God is the giver of every good and perfect gift and that there is no good thing He will withhold from them that walk uprightly. All of these things, with the empowering of the Holy Spirit, allow me to submit “even if and even when”.
So Now What?
Is submission difficult? Yes! If I agreed with the decision being made, it wouldn’t really be submission now would it? Is it possible to submit even when I don’t agree with the decision being made? Yes! With the help of the Holy Spirit, the availing myself of God’s generous resources, and the desire to please God, I can submit. I can trust God to do the right thing in every circumstance in life “even if”. I can trust He is powerful enough to accomplish His plans and purposes for my life “even when”. As long as my husband is not asking me to sin, I need to and want to submit in every situation because it is the safest place for me to be. I am always safe when I am walking in submission to the Lord, who has asked me to submit to my husband.
As I write this, I’m looking at the fragments of a huge bouquet of stargazer lilies from our 23rd anniversary celebration. The flowers were gorgeous but their beauty faded in 2 weeks time. The beauty that comes from living a life submitted to God will never fade. As Proverbs 31 says,