More Lessons from Marriage
One evening I forgot to come home from work. I loved my career and normally worked from 8 am to 6 pm, six days a week. Some days I worked the noon to 9 pm shift. In addition, I was used to working extra hours when necessary, especially in the evenings. We were open until 9 pm every weekday and at times got a big influx of business during those later hours, so I would stay and help.
This particular evening, after working our way through a flood of customers, I arrived home for supper over an hour late. I opened the kitchen door and was greeted by a tigress! After listening for a bit, I closed the door and went away for a bit.
When I came back, the tigress was gone and there was Barbara again! This was my introduction to the fact that women want, like, need information. It’s ok to be late as long as you let them know what’s happening!
Before marriage, I had been giving away a lot of my income and wanted to continue this practice. I was very frugal with money for myself but very generous with others.
Since we paid no rent for living in the old house on the farm and had no debts, we were very easily able to give large amounts to the Lord, supporting different ministries.
I convinced Barbara that we should give 50% of our income directly to the Lord. Her German upbringing had taught her to be very cautious and protect herself by holding onto whatever she had. However, her experience with Operation Mobilization moved her away from this human perspective by giving her good, biblical input on giving, so she agreed.
We began to give one week’s paycheck to the Lord and then keep the next one. However, after three weeks Barbara came back to me about this and asked to change this plan.
“Rather than giving a whole paycheck every other week, let’s give half of each pay check each week. That will help me to plan better,” she suggested. I did not like that idea. It felt so much better to give a whole paycheck!
It took her a while to get me to see that her suggestion made no difference in the overall picture; I just had to give up the emotional rush I got in doing it my way. This was the Lord’s way of impressing on me the importance of examining my motives, rejecting my negative ones while acting out of good ones—and I had a number of negative ones in this case, such as pride, selfishness and wanting to make myself look good in my own eyes and those of others.
God would continue to develop my ability to discern and evaluate motives because it was His plan to bring me further out into the freedom He has for His children.
Then we talked about dropping her health insurance, giving that money to the Lord instead. “Insurance is no different than a bet,” I explained. “The insurance company is betting that we won’t get sick; we are betting that we will.” Barbara looked pretty doubtful. She was struggling with the strong German value of security.
“I’m not saying buying insurance is wrong,” I continued, “I’m saying we shouldn’t just assume it’s right to buy it; we should ask God whether we should buy it or not. We should put our trust in Him rather than in the insurance company. Then if He clearly says we should buy health insurance, we are trusting in Him by doing so.” That made sense to Barbara’s spiritually mature mind, so we cancelled her health insurance.
Three weeks later we rode our bicycles to a friend’s house to help him spread loam on the yard around his new home. The lawn had quite a slope and I was working a bit below where Barbara was. As I was swiftly spreading out the loam, my shovel hit a rock, bounced off it and struck Barbara’s ankle, slicing it deeply, then scrapping up her anklebone, exposing a good stretch of it.
I was horrified; she was in pain and shock. I scooped her up in my arms, asked to borrow my friend’s car and roared off to the emergency room. From the back seat Barbara wailed, “And now we don’t have any insurance! Dropping it was not the right thing to do!”
I clamped my mouth shut and concentrated on driving. We got right in to see the doctor, who quickly cleaned the wound and stitched it up. “This will heal well,” he said, “It is a clean cut.”
I paid on the way out: $25.00. And that was the only medical fee expense we had for the whole rest of the year, confirming to me that we’d made the right decision!
Living at the Lord’s direction without insurance was an adventure. When we were expecting our first child, we began to save toward the cost of the hospital delivery: $1,100 in 1975. However, shortly before Josh was born, my father and mother gave me a bonus for doing a good job of bill collecting for the business. The amount they decided on? $1,100! They did not know how much the birth would cost, but the Lord did!
Soon after Josh was born, we took him to the pediatrician for his first check-up. When the doctor was done with us, we stopped at the nurse’s station to pay our bill.
“What insurance do you have?” she asked.
“We don’t have any.” I replied.
She looked up in surprise, “What? You have no health insurance?!!”
“No, the Lord always takes care of us.” I said.
Just at that moment, the doctor, who was also a believer, came out of an examination room and walked by the desk on his way to another patient. “By the way, nurse,” he said, “There’s no charge for these folks.”
As the doctor disappeared into an examining room, I leaned over the counter and said to the nurse, “See?”
She could only blink in surprise.
Later on in our lives when we joined a mission group, we were required to have medical insurance, so we complied. That was God’s clear direction to buy insurance, and we obeyed, following the principle of submitting to authority.
Picture: Carving the turkey for our first Thanksgiving Day together in the old house on the farm