How is being a husband like living in the Promised Land? I do not think that is a question asked very often of the biblical text. And yet, when I was reading about the Promised Land a while back I was struck by some similarities. Take Joshua 24:13 for example,
“I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant.”
So, in this passage God reminds his people that as they came out of 40 years in the wilderness they just walked into Canaan and occupied cities that were already built and ate the fruit of vineyards that they did not plant. God used the previous occupants to do all the work for his people.
Our married life has been anything but typical. We did not have kids for 6 years of marriage, both worked went to seminary for a number of those years, and most recently we have alternated with the kids while we completed linguistics training in Texas. However, there was a period for about 2.5 years in there after we got kids that we looked pretty normal (except for the four African toddlers all about the same age part). I was working for Bank of America and Stacey was home with the kiddos. Everyday I would come out of my “40 years in the wilderness” (think 8 hours in a brown stained-fabric life-sucking cubicle) and arrive home where I would find my children clothed and in their right minds, my house in order, my wife looking lovely, and usually a tasty (if not slightly burned) dinner steaming at the dining room table. I literally was eating food that I neither bought nor prepared, talking to (mostly) obedient kids that I had not disciplined, walking on a clean floor that I did not vacuum, and eating off of dishes that I did not wash.
It has always been surprising to me how quickly Israel turned from God in the Promised Land and how little thanks was given for it. I mean God brought them into the land and in their very first battle they were required to do nothing other than what happens in my living room every day (i.e. walking in circles a lot, screaming and blowing trumpets). It was God that did all the fighting for them. And yet, all too soon they began to give glory to other gods, and stopped giving thanks to the true God. I thought, how could they fall so quickly? But then we came to the time where Stacey was in training all day and I was home with the kids. And, as it turns out, those dishes actually do not clean themselves, the kids do in fact require a substantial amount of discipline, and within a few hours the cubicle farm was calling my name. It was then I realized that I am not too different from Israel. It was not until I was removed from the Promised Land that I really started to understand its joys. And, I think, my heart is more thankful now than it was before.
So, for you husbands out there that are currently delighting in the fruit of your wives’ labors, permit me to call you to thankfulness. We are quick to note the condemnation of homosexuality in Romans 1, but let us not forget that the root of the sins in that passage is that, “although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him” (v 21). Please allow every bite of free-labor food remind you to be thankful for your wife. When your kids can say their memory verse, or “yes sir,” or sing a worship song, or even just be quiet at the dinner table so you can tell your wife about your day, make sure your dinner prayer includes thanks to God for the laborer who made that possible. She is a blessing and a gift, God deserves praise for her!
I will end with a silly Interwebs story that makes me laugh and also drives home the message of this blog post: