Monday, October 14, 2013

An Understanding Way

As a young missionary, relatively new on the field, about to embark on a huge adventure, I have a lot on my mind.  I have purchases to make.  A house to renovate.  Vehicle maintenance.  Planning.  Culture.  Language.


When I married Kaylee, I made a covenant with her before God to love and protect her, care and provide for her for the rest of my life.  As God blessed us with 3 daughters, they were each added to that covenant and my responsibilities expanded to the teaching and training of children.  In Ephesians 5:22-6:4 we find the theological foundations for, and responsibilities of, these relationships.  Love and Respect. Obedience and Instruction.

But what does it mean practically to "love her as my own body?"  If my early 20s (when I met Kaylee) are any indication, that could be interpreted to mean that I could expect her to do hard labor for 10+ hours/day on little sleep and a poor diet, then freeze half to death while hunting or camping on the weekend.  I'm no Grizzly Adams, but I can put up with a lot and I'm looking forward to the adventurous aspects of living in Urubich√°. 

Kaylee is not.  She is not the adventurous type.  A quick look at her personal blog should be enough to demonstrate the struggles she has had in moving to another country and adapting to life here.  Now we're taking the BIG step to a place where no one speaks English, the climate is hot and humid, and most of the supplies that we consider basic necessities are hours away by road.

Over the past few years, I have been drawn a lot more to I Peter 3:7, especially in how it relates to me as a missionary and the husband of a missionary wife:

                                      Likewise, husbands, 
                                          live with your wives in an understanding way, 
                                               showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, 
                                                    since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, 
                                               so that your prayers may not be hindered. (ESV) 

The consequences for not taking Peter's exhortation to heart are serious:  not only will I have a bad marriage, it will affect my prayer life.  It's as though God is Kaylee's protective father:   
"Treat her right, or I'm not going to listen to you."

Considering that I am dependent on God for every aspect of my life, without even the pretense of providing for myself, that is a very sobering thought.  Even setting aside the fact that I really do love my wife and wish the best for her, there is still a very strong compulsion to take this seriously.

So how do I apply this to my life?  Beyond the normal aspects of this command as we usually interpret it in our culture (emotional support, caring, romance, etc), I have some other, more tangible considerations to make, simply due to our lifestyle.  How do I apply "an understanding way" to a life that is so different from anything we have ever known?

Is it enough to provide her with a concrete floor, rather than a dirt one?  Running water?  An indoor bathroom?  Make more frequent trips out to the city?  Pay for good internet so she can keep in touch with friends and familyProvide a shed so my tools aren't in the house?

My desire is to be a compassionate, servant leader of my family.  Please pray for wisdom for me as a husband, that I will always be careful to consider the needs of my wife as we walk this road together.

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