My cousin Caleb Mast is married to Sandra, and together they are a dynamic, beautiful team. Sandra is the guest writer in today’s post. Thanks for your wise words, Sandra!
Valentine’s Day is another one of those holidays God has been speaking to me about, and I think it goes back to Caleb challenging my life in that of having a learning heart. A restless heart that never ceases to crave more. A heart searching for God, and what He desires of me.
And so this Valentine’s Day, I want to show the world and encourage other Christians as to what true love and romance is.
Soon after Caleb and I started dating, one of my best friends also starting dating. It was a wonderful time of sharing our excitement of budding love, and also sharing the painful part of letting go of our single-hood and the dreams we had dreamed in exchange for learning submission to God by way of following and submitting to a man. We both have similar personalities and our boyfriends (now our husbands!) also had similar personalities, which added an even greater depth to our discussions. In one of our many conversations, we were talking about the common “Knight in shining Armor” idea and how we thought that it was more than a little twisted in its descriptive name. We both concluded that we did not end up with a knight in shining armor… and neither did we wish too!
The mental picture I get with the whole knight-in-shining-armor deal is a knight on his snow-white horse with shining, smooth, and spotless armor. Think about it. Would you really want a knight wearing an armor that is still smooth and spotless?? Somehow, by the grace of God, I ended up with a knight in weather-worn, muddy armor full of dings and dents, riding a tired and sweating horse! My knight isn’t the knight sitting proudly on his snow-white horse, with the sun glistening off his smooth and shiny helmet and sword.
My knight has fought too hard to have a spotless armor. He’s fought the dragons head-on, muddying his armor, taking the brunt of the blows, and bloodying his sword. Now THAT kind of mental picture has my heart pumping!!
I’m not sure why I had to give that intro to what I’m really dying to write about, but… that is my hero. That is my Caleb, my lover, my gift from God! He’s not the hot dude in the sporty outfit and hot-shot ride. He’s the hot dude wearing dirty jeans, sweating hard as he shovels mud out of a neighbor’s flooded house for hours. He’s the hero respectfully acknowledging older people and honoring authority in words and actions. He’s the mysterious guy in the background. You’ll see him spending time with the underdog before seeing him on a platform with everyone’s attention on himself.
To me, true love isn’t about Caleb buying me flowers, opening the doors for me, or singing me love songs, even though he does all this and more, making me laugh and melting my heart time and again.
True love, one worth celebrating, is about him making the effort to daily pray for me and with me. It’s watching him tell our little son, Desmond, about Jesus, praying with him for orphans around the world, witnessing to others while Desmond watches, desiring to be an example to him and open his heart and mind to the bigger picture.
It’s about him loving people even if they are disagreeable and hard to love. It’s about him respecting his parents even when he doesn’t see eye to eye with them on everything. It’s about him accepting my family and all our weird quirks that continue to surprise him. It’s about those moments when he comes to me with slumped shoulders and confesses some of the weaknesses God has brought to his attention. It’s about watching him do hard things, about him keeping the goals he sets. It’s about him standing up in church and baring his heart, even when I know not everyone agrees or understands him. It’s about him choosing to forgive me when my selfish side controls my actions and words and hurts him deeply.
THAT makes me really melt. That makes the tears fall as I realize what a hero God gave me. Caleb exemplifies Jesus to me, and challenges me to a closer walk with Him, the Greatest Hero of All.
All that said, don’t think I always have this respectful, awe-like attitude towards Caleb. I’m ashamed to admit that sometimes—mostly because I don’t feel as patient and loving as Caleb is—I criticize his niceness, and get impatient with how patient he is with difficult people. That’s why I need moments like this to reflect and help me remember what true gallantry really is!!
Our marriage and home has been a green house for me. Honestly, the more I’m with my husband, the more I grow spiritually. I love the late-night discussions we have, the tears we shed for the lost souls we personally know and those we don’t, the prayers we pray for those we love deeply and those we need God’s grace to love at all.
I love when, after timidly sharing with him a wild idea I have, he says “go for it”. And how I feel believed-in even if the idea is pretty crazy. And vice versa. I love watching him step out and do hard things and cheering him on. I love being accountable to each other in big and small ways.
I love when he comes home from work, and I love sending him off to work. Because I know he’ll use his spiritual armor. I know he’ll use his spiritual sword. I know satan trembles. I know God smiles. And when he comes home, I help him dress his wounds… on my knees. And then we rehearse the victories. And pray and cry together and do whatever is necessary to prepare for the next day’s battle.
That’s my knight in muddy armor.
Maybe the world won’t notice. Maybe the church won’t notice. But those hungry for a battle worth fighting for will notice.
One of my greatest wishes while living where God has called us is to impact youth with a godly example of marriage and true love. This generation is fast falling. Young kids are wrapped up in finding love. They are really young kids, desperate for a very warped version of love.
I both tremble and grieve at the young girls I see walking around seductively, placing themselves in dangerous situations, longing for affirmation, attention, and love. I grieve for the young boys I see through the window shades, playing video game after video game filled with blood, guts and gory actions just to have something to do… and maybe feel half like a heroic warrior?
It’s all satan’s counterfeits to temporarily fill the gaping hole only God can fill! TVs are numbing the pain, distracting them from the gnawing hunger for love and fulfillment and meaning in life.
Yet even more saddening then all of this to me is some of the attitudes I’ve heard from Christians. “I can’t see how they can spend so much time watching TV and playing such horrible video games!” “It’s so sad that they can’t find better things to do.” And many other glib and naive comments.
Is it really any wonder this is what kids are doing? Who’s fault is it that they don’t have anything better to do? Who, WHO will exemplify any other option if we don’t spend time with them and open our hearts and homes to them?
Yes, open our homes to these “terrible, heathen” children and youth. My heart’s cry is to bring them into our home and, by God’s grace and mercy, give them a taste of heaven on earth. I pray continually God’s presence to fill our home so that those who walk inside the doors will immediately both feel and “smell” something different.
Because WHO is going to show these children there IS true meaning in life, there IS tangible joy, deep peace and fulfillment in life? Obviously not their parents, who themselves are not sure of their sexuality, have multiple partners, and are also lost in trying to find meaning to their lives.
And sadly, too many Christians are more worried about getting their hands dirty than for the salvation of these precious souls. So who, WHO will show them JESUS?? Who will love them, disciple them, and by their victorious, Christ-filled life show them there is hope? That true love is not red and pink hearts, roses, kisses, and sex??
So I share all this to hopefully pass along by burden for this generation. They ARE watching us, whether we know it or not. Often the judgemental, holier-than-thou attitudes we have are exactly what turn them away from Jesus and convince them their “fun” lives are worth the pain and emptiness they feel deep down.
Let’s spend more time in God’s Word, bathe ourselves in His presence (where fullness of joy alone is found), ask for His love to overtake us, and live out of THAT! Let’s open our homes to kids seeking love and affirmation, let’s showcase Christ and His bride in our marriages and homes so these kids can see there is something different out there… there IS another option than what they too often see!
We can’t force them to drink of the Living Water but we can show them there IS living water and that it is more than enough, and we can make them thirsty for it themselves!
This Valentine’s Day I am grateful for a love-filled marriage, for a Godly and loving husband, for a brave and bold leader, for how much Caleb has taught me by example, and I want to share my blessings with those hungry for something greater.
We’ve been blessed to be a blessing!!