[This is a devotion that Denise Partyka gave at a wedding shower for Grace Konemann. Denise taught Grace in Sunday School class when she was only 3 years old and had the privilege to watch her grow up into a beautiful young woman ]
What a sweet privilege it is for me to be encouraging you regarding marriage. However, it's a little difficult to wrap my head around the fact we've arrived here so quickly, while it seems only a short time ago that I was teaching you, Haley and Kayla in preschool Sunday School. I have to confess I have felt a bit inadequate finding just the right words of wisdom and encouragement because what do I say to a young woman, regarding marriage, who has been an eyewitness her entire life to such a beautifully faithful God-honoring marriage? Your parents are my heroes in marriage, ministry and this Christian life so this seems full circle for me to be serving you in this way. My hope and prayer is that you will be encouraged, not necessarily by anything newly profound that I have to say but that you will be reminded of God's loving kindness and faithfulness in giving you a husband so while my words maybe inadequate to fully communicate that, Christ certainly is not.
I have chosen 3 words I'd like you to remember and encourage you with:
I'd like to encourage you to have joy: joy in your marriage and joy in our faithful God who grants such sweet gifts. Ps 16:11 says, "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Marriage is for the purpose of glorifying God. Enjoy your husband. We know "Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever." Marriage can be such a beautiful expression of this purpose lived out. Have joy in our good God who has given you the gift of a husband. He has given you a partner in this life to walk by your side, not leaving you alone to celebrate life's sweetest joys or to carry the heaviest of burdens alone.
God has expressed the tenderness of His sovereignty in the midst of the rain by bringing Jeff into your life when He did. It's not often that a couple begins their dating relationship under the difficult and painful circumstances that you and Jeff did. Rarely does a first date begin with the young man meeting his date's father for the first time in a hospital room. You have learned quickly the treasure of having a partner to help carry the heaviest of burdens. While I wish so very much your experience would have been different and your dating relationship free of such hard lessons, I rejoice with you over God's faithful provision in your life. There is no question Jeff's strength of character has been proven during such times. As the clouds of grief begin to thin, I trust that God will also give you many moments in your marriage to enjoy your husband in the brightness of the sun. "My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me." Psalm 63:5-8
Proverbs 5:18 says, "Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth..."
We can understand this to mean 'husband of your youth' as well. As Jeff's wife be his strongest supporter and greatest champion. This will prove to be most helpful as you learn to encourage Jeff especially in his ministry, while there are great and many blessings in serving the body of Christ, some of the greatest in fact, there will come hard disappointments as well. Jeff will need you to be a reliable source of encouragement. Try very hard not fall into the temptation of being critical. Your mom gave me some of the wisest counsel many years ago specifically regarding how to respond to my husband's sermons and it really proves to be good counsel all around. She said there will be plenty of people offering criticism, some helpful and some not unhelpful, but nonetheless criticism. Always find words of encouragement for him. Romans 12:10 says, "Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor". Make it your practice to outdo Jeff in showing honor. What I know of Jeff and observed in how he loves and serves you this will be a challenging task but you're a woman who seems to be up for a challenge. Be ever mindful that Jeff will be the living image and representative of Christ in your home and being his steadfast champion will allow him the freedom and encouragement to fulfill that role. Therefore, be Jeff's champion!
"Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart" Psalm 119:111. There is a great void with the absence of your Dad, those that knew him and love him feel that void for you and for ourselves. His presence was large so the void is equally as large but in the midst of your grief and tears look to Christ for the source of your joy so that you don't miss the beauty and excitement of this time. I'm fairly certain your Dad would have encouraged you to do the same and I know your Heavenly Father desires it of you. No one, in my opinion, was a more faithful example of having and expressing joy in His savior during great pain and suffering than your father. You have a rich and beautiful heritage, look to it for your inspiration and launching pad for your own marriage and draw your strength and delight in the God who gives good gifts such as marriage.
Gracious Heavenly Father,
Thank you for your goodness and faithfulness expressed in the gift of marriage. Thank you for the years of faithful marriages that Grace can look to for a source of encouragement that are represented in this room today. We thank you for your perfect providence in bringing Grace and Jeff together. Cause Grace to find great joy in being Jeff's wife. May she be a wife that faithfully provides encouragement and support to her husband and may she draw strength and inspiration from the beautiful heritage you have given her from her grandparents and parents. Bless Grace and Jeff with love for one another that flows from their love from Christ and may their home be a home where the conversations drip with the truths of scripture, where the gospel is central and where the name of Christ is glorified. In Christ's name, Amen.