Today, I am thinking about the second-greatest gift I have ever been given. Of course, Jesus is the greatest gift and there could never be anything or anyone greater than the gift of him.
But my second all-time greatest gift was my husband of 36 years, Dave, who now is in heaven.
Little did we know that on our wedding day, Feb. 5, 1977, what would be in our future. I’m thankful and grateful that our omniscient God and heavenly father rarely reveals what lies ahead of us in this life. I think for our own good.
At the time, I was 25 and out of college working at my first job as a caseworker for the Shelby County Welfare Department. Dave was 28, had been to Vietnam and back and was in the Indiana National Guard at Camp Atterbury, full-time.
By the time we got married, we were each established Christ followers who already practiced and knew the importance of spending time in prayer and in God’s Word each day, as well as tithing, worshiping weekly in church and investing time, energy and resources in order to make an impact on others for the cause of Christ. Since we already were doing these individually, it was easy for us to come together as we continued to do them together.
From the beginning of our marriage, Dave took responsibility for leading us spiritually as a couple. God had placed him in the position as the head of our home and he took this leadership seriously.
Each day, as he led the two of us in devotions together, he read a passage from the Scriptures and then we discussed what he had read. After this, we talked about people and situations that were in need of our prayers before we prayed for them.
Within eight years, God blessed us with three daughters. He took the first one, Katie, on home to heaven before we got to hear her utter a sound.
Two years later, daughter No. 2 came into our family bringing red hair, joy and laughter along with her. She joined us in devotions when she was a month old. Today, I smile to myself every time I see, in my mind’s eye, Dave carrying her into the living room to join us, bassinet and all.
Two years later, daughter No. 3 came into our home. We then had a 2-year-old and a newborn joining us in devotions each day. Dave always saw to it that this happened.
By the time the girls were toddlers, Dave was leading family devotions with material geared to their level of understanding. He always led us in prayer, then each of the girls prayed and I followed up at the close. This is how our girls learned to pray in the beginning, not from other people, but from us and in our home.
As our girls got older and went to school, Dave usually already had left for work, but on the days he was still home he joined us as we gathered in a circle, held hands and prayed. It was important that they hear us as we mentioned their names and called on God on their behalf for the day ahead of them. This is how we began our day until they left our home for college.
Throughout our daughters’ lives, they have the memory of a dad that read to them from God’s word, prayed with and for them, and though certainly not perfectly so, lived the life he had taught and showed them to live from the day they were born until the day he died.
Dave had seriously accepted the responsibility God had placed on him, both physically and spiritually. That responsibility, every day, was to lead, guard, protect and care for those whom God had personally entrusted to him. It was given to him and all men, for that matter, not as an option but as a command to do so.
Nowhere in Scripture does God leave men wiggle room for excuses not to lead his family spiritually.
Today, I am thankful this Christmas for God’s gift of a husband and father:
Who from Day 1 of our marriage studied God’s Word and prayed with and for me
Whose top priority in life was to lead, guard, protect and care for the wife and daughters God had entrusted to him, both physically and spiritually
Who gave up time for himself, often, in order to do fun stuff and just to be with his family
Whose heart was tender toward God and wanted to be obedient to him, as evidenced by the way he sacrificed for and loved his family
2 Corinthians 9:15 reads, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.”
Thank you, Dave! The girls and I know you were not perfect but we are thankful this Christmas that you were God’s gift to us as my earthly husband and their earthly father.
Nita Evans of Columbus is owner of Confidential Christian Counseling, focusing her work especially with ministry leaders and their families. She also is a Columbus Police Department chaplain and a national retreat and conference speaker. She can be reached at 812-614-7838 or by visiting specialspeaker.com.