An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. (Proverbs 31:10)
Not everyone learns this in their 20s. That's ok. I was engaged at age 20 and married at 21 to my best friend. She has followed me, encouraged me, challenged me, held me up when life was heavy, allowed me to hold her up when life was heavy...It's amazing to me how God provides the strength, words, and faith for one, when the other can't find them, and vice-versa. I've learned so much from loving and living with my beautiful bride for 9 years, and honestly, it only gets better. I love you Nicole.
My way's not always God's way, but God's way is better than my way.
If I've learned anything over the last 10 years, it's that God has a plan, God never makes mistakes, and He is intimately and intricately involved with the deepest facets of our hearts. Growing up, my favorite bible-verse was Proverbs 3:5-6. In the last 10 years, I've struggled at times to trust in the Lord and not lean on my understanding. Those are the cloudiest times I can think of. My own understanding can bring confusion, discontentment, and questioning, while trusting in the sovereignty and direction of our loving Father brings peace, joy, and gratitude. I wouldn't have chosen certain things, and I even have questions about certain things that will probably never be answered until heaven, but I see God's hand in every turn, decision, and path. "God doesn't always give us what we ask for, but he gives us what we would have asked for had we known all that he knows." ~ Paul David Tripp
Good things come on the other side of the valley.
You know that verse in James that talks about counting your trials as joy, because they produce steadfastness and ultimately a more complete child of God? I get that more now. There are things that the Lord has for us, that He won't give us until we get to the other side of the valley. God is interested in making us more complete. He is a shepherd, and sometimes this dumb sheep needs found when he wanders off, or corrected when he does his own thing, or carried when the path is the hardest...But the Lord has constantly led me to still waters, restored my soul, and I know He is preparing me for the table he prepares in heaven, where my cup, and my joy will overflow for all of eternity. "I lift my eyes to the hills, for where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:1-2).
Competence + Character
Look, I'll admit now, I thought I knew more than I actually did when I was in my early 20s. I had a big vision, I had a lot of passion, and I was even pretty good at some of the things I wanted to do with my life. Praise God for schooling and experience and gifting and talents! But, competence will only carry you as far as your character let's you. God wants competent, passionate, kingdom builders who have the character of Christ. Character is built in humility; understanding that you may not have it all together. The wisdom of older believers and leaders has been invaluable in my life. Their sharpening, their counsel, their prodding, and their time has provided so much guidance and shaping to who I am and who I want to be for the glory of God. God's Word and accountability are two of the greatest assets to anyone seeking to grow in the likeness of Christ.
There are advantages to disadvantages.
I'll speak from my experience as someone in vocational ministry, but I think this can apply to anyone trying to follow the Lord. There are things that our family has decided to live without, in order to follow Jesus the way we want to. There are sacrifices the Lord asks us to make, and they're not always easy things. In fact, some things are for sure an advantage, and praise God for those things. But when God asks us to give up something or sacrifice, what is too much for him to ask? Sometimes, what seems to be a disadvantage, is actually an advantage in the kingdom of God. I'm learning to find the kingdom value in the things I would call disadvantages. It is there that God never disappoints.
Every personal dream or accomplishment is shattered in comparison to loving and leading your kids to Jesus.
I'm telling you, if there is one thing that will start to jerk the tears from my eyes, its my kids. I love them. For whatever reason, God in His grace saw fit to entrust three little ones to my wife and I in our 20s. Having children challenged me in my commitment to the Gospel, and the simplicity of it's message. My wife is so much better at helping our kids understand spiritual things, but I have learned much about delivering God's truth to little ears. And for my older two, I have a few very distinct moments I'll never forget where the Lord was clearly convicting them, and drawing them to himself. I have seen the Holy Spirit working in their hearts and on their conscience in some of the most tangible ways I've ever experienced. It's in those moments that their child-sized faith challenges my own. I am far from done navigating the depths of my children's sinful hearts with them, but I believe and see the Lord working on them and it stirs a response of worship in my heart like nothing else. "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" 3 John 1:4. Let it be so Lord!