How did I know 14 years ago that she was the one? Because it was right in every way. I knew I wanted a wife who was beautiful inside and out and whose heart burned for Jesus more than anything and anyone else in this world. I knew that to find a woman of such caliber and beauty would require this young 19 year old to step up in a big way. No more being a boy. No more indecisiveness about serving Christ. No half commitments or back doors out when things got rough. No contracts that can be broken in a moment of weakness. I wanted a life-long covenant and partnership. I did not know how to execute every decision or handle it all. All I knew was that somehow Jesus would supply all the grace necessary if I surrendered to Him.
I remember fasting and praying as I combed through the Scriptures. God said, “Joel, that’s her. Now follow hard after me and lead her as you go.” Of course it was not audible, but it was as clear as reading it on a page. He took me to the passage in Timothy about the qualification of an elder and challenged me to be the shepherd of my home. He challenged me to make my heart right before Him, to aim for Him, and that He would give me the wife fit for me.
And He did.
On July 19th, 2003, I took her by the hand at the altar and said, “I do”. I waited for her reply. I still can’t believe she agreed. But she did.
Not one day has passed that I have regretted that decision. Not because it’s been perfect and not because I am more adequate today. I’m not. God has shown me over the years that marriage is about Him. And if it’s about Him, then He can use imperfect and inadequate people to bring Him glory. The man and woman who are willing to lay aside selfish and worldly ambitions to follow His word and wholeheartedly embrace Christ TOGETHER are going to have something beautiful. I am not an expert to any degree, but there are some things that by the grace of God have become clearer to me since the start.
Couples are often asked what is the one bit of advice they would give to others. So here’s my advice to those who are just starting out in marriage or still struggling to get your footing. Of course there is so much more, but this one is high on my list.
Be one in every way and embrace the Biblical truth that God made your marriage specifically for the glory of Christ. So as much as it is in both of you, be one, humbly and patiently seek Jesus together and let it be all about Him.
Callie Elisabeth Littlefield, I love you. I love your smile and your laugh. I love serving our Lord together. I love looking back and seeing all that the difficult seasons have taught us. I love knowing that even though the future holds a mixture of good and bad for this world, we can go through it with hopefulness and strength as we trust God together. Thank you for your patience, forgiveness, kindness and genuineness. Thank you for your passion and for your humility. My promise to you is that I will continue to love you and cherish you, to have you and hold you through thick and thin, poverty and riches, sickness and health, for better and for worse until death do us part.
I truly do not deserve you. And in all honesty, 14 years is not long enough. I want more.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, my love!