After four months of dating, my then, boyfriend, got all our friends together and planned a three-day cruise. There were eight of us total, four guys and four girls — two rooms (one for the guys and one for the girls). Then off we went to the Bahamas. We had a great time together. On the last night of our cruise there was a formal dinner with great food, friends, and fun.
At the end of the night, my boyfriend, Mike, took me to the top deck overlooking Nassau (the port city of the Bahamas). It was a beautiful star-filled night with the lights of the ship and the city reflecting on the water. As we looked toward the beautiful city on the ocean, he knelt on one knee and ask me to be his wife.
I said, “Yes!”
He wanted to go get the captain and be married right then. But I resisted, knowing how upset my family would be if I did that.
We planned our wedding for six months later when our family and friends could be with us. Ten months after we started dating, we became Mr. and Mrs. Mike Pavlantos. We just had our twenty-ninth anniversary in April.
Has it always been easy and full of fun? Absolutely not.
Marriage can be hard. But God created the marriage to be a covenant. Even though many people experience the heartbreak of divorce, that is not what God intended.
God modeled the marriage covenant after His Son.
What does a covenant mean?
In the Bible, when two parties instituted a covenant between them, they took a fattened animal, the best of the flock or herd, and “cut” it into two pieces. Then the two parties of the covenant would pass through the pieces symbolizing their dedication to the covenant and by this action are saying, “If I do not hold to the agreements of this covenant, you can do to me what we did to this animal.” (https://www.ancient-hebrew.org/definition/covenant.htm)
Pretty serious stuff, right? But, that is what the Father made with us through His Son.
A betrothal, is a marriage contract and it involves a covenant. The betrothal began with the father choosing a bride for his son, but the bride had to agree.
The Father has chosen us, too.
Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
Ephesians 1:4 ESV
We must agree to our Betrothal as well.
The bridegroom and his father go to the house of this woman whom he has chosen to be his bride. The family knew he was coming, but it was the daughter’s decision to open the door. If she opened the door, they came in, had dinner, and ironed out the details of the marriage contract or Ketubah (the Jewish word for the contract).
If she had cold feet or decided she did not want him as her husband, she did not open the door and the two men left.
Here’s how that looks in our Bibles:
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
Revelation 3:20 ESV
The Bridegroom comes to the door of our hearts and knocks. When we let Him in, it begins an amazing relationship that will challenge us to be holy. However, if we do not open the door—He leaves. That doesn’t mean He won’t try again, but continually refusing to open the door leaves Jesus with little choice but to walk away.
However, the bride could back out of the betrothal at any time before the ceremony.
Jesus will never change His mind about wanting us as His Bride. But we can back out at any time. We can walk away—as many have.
Jesus will never change His mind about wanting us as His Bride. But we can back out at any time. We can walk away—as many have. #TheBetrothal #ThisSideofHeaven
During the betrothal process, the first thing the couple and their family do is drink the first of four glasses of wine together. The first cup represents servanthood. As they drink this cup, they vow to serve one another throughout their lives. This cup compares to the first cup of Passover.
While on this earth, Jesus shared three of the four cups of wine with his disciples during the Passover meal. The first cup is the Cup of Sanctification, representing a setting apart for God, serving Him only. Just as our new spouse wants all our affections and faithfulness, Jesus does too.
Jesus sets us apart for Him. Is that easy? No.
The world can ridicule us for being pure (holiness), for not using foul language, for not watching or listening to raunchy popular movies or music, or for not partying and getting drunk, which can make us feel, well, separated—wanting to fit in.
But being set apart shows God’s love for us. Staying pure and holy shows our love for Him.
When we are faithful to our spouse, no matter what, it shows our commitment and loyalty to them.
How are we unfaithful to the Lord?
With our idols…. humans have always had and will always have idols—unless we acknowledge them and give them to Jesus. We need to ask Jesus to point out our idols so we deal with them.
I often need affirmation. There was a time when the Lord pointed out to me that my need to have people recognize what I was doing or writing was an idol. The Holy Spirit revealed to me His opinion and pleasing Him was all that mattered.
Our idols can be many things, but mainly whatever pulls and keeps our attention from the Lord. When we use food, alcohol, or anything else to self-medicate our hurts or failures, we make it an idol. When our spouse or children are more important than our relationship with the Lord, they become our idols.
A day or two before the wedding ceremony, the bridegroom comes back for his bride. But if he found she had been unfaithful; he could divorce her.
In our relationship with the Lord, He may find us unfaithful, but He is compassionate; He forgives our unfaithfulness even though He could cut us off forever. He requires one thing from us, though…repentance. Repentance is His gift to us.
Return, faithless Israel, declares the Lord; ‘I will not look upon you in anger. For I am gracious,’ declares the Lord; ‘I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, That you have transgressed against the Lord your God.’
Jeremiah 3:12-13 ESV
Jesus is our Bridegroom who longs to make us His Bride forever. Answer the door and let Him in.
I am so excited, and I wanted to share it with all of you who have not seen my FB page!
I wrote about my Bible study, The Jewels of Hebrews, last week in the post called Gift of Gab. Mt. Zion Ridge Press will publish it in December 2020. Yay!!
It is definitely a huge praise and an answer to prayer! I am so thankful the Lord has allowed this to happen and I look forward to how He uses it.
Who is like you, LORD God Almighty? You, LORD, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.
Psalm 89:8 ESV
He is faithful. So many times, I nearly gave up. So many times, I figured writing wasn’t for me….
The naysayers beckoned me to listen to them, too.
Satan’s voice was loud, but God’s was louder. He kept me on the right track and at the very moment I needed it, I received encouragement from someone who read my blog, or one of my devotionals, or a fellow writer or Word Weaver.
I remember a time I was praying, asking God if my writing mattered to anyone. That very day a woman named LuAnn sent me a message telling me how much my post on Yoga (which she read on Charismamag.org) meant to her. It was something I needed to hear.
God cares about our discouragement. If we ask, He will send someone to encourage us. I can’t tell you how many times He has for me and I am not special.
God cares about our discouragement. #ThisSideofHeaven #Signingthecontract #Biblestudyauthor
This year my fraternal twins turned 21 years old. This was quite an accomplishment!
Twenty-one years ago, my mother-in-law was having knee surgery. It was a Tuesday. Our family, my husband, Mike, father-in-law, Ted, my sister-in-law and her husband, my brother-in-law, and his wife were all there to be with her. After her surgery, we went to lunch. No, it wasn’t in the hospital cafeteria, it was over 5 blocks away, and we walked there and back. I was 27 weeks pregnant (but looked full-term) and was supposed to start bed-rest that weekend. It was a rough walk to get lunch!
The next morning, I woke up to pain down my legs and thighs. I thought the walking had been too much and I was feeling sore. However, by the time I got to work, my water broke, and I was taken to the hospital about 45 minutes away. I was so naive I didn’t know to be scared.
I was assured by the nurses and doctors that they would stop the labor, but I would have to stay in the hospital until the babies were 34 weeks old to be safe. Didn’t happen. One of my babies had decided he was coming into this world regardless of what anyone else thought.
At 3:00 that afternoon, my twins, Matthew and Alexandria, were born weighing a little over 2 pounds and 14 inches long.
They were taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where they were hooked up to respirators, pulse-oxygen machines, and heart monitors. They had more needles and lines going through their little arms, feet, and umbilical cords than I could have ever imagined possible. A mask was placed over their eyes to protect them from the lights. Their skin was translucent, making it possible to see and feel bones and blood vessels. They were literally skin and bones. Muscle had not fully formed, and there were no rolls of baby fat on their tummies or thighs.
I could only sit there talking to and praying for them because their little bodies were sensitive to touch. I was told they would be in the NICU until their due date. That was 13 more weeks! My heart was breaking into so many pieces….I already loved them so much!
For the first few weeks, they had bad days and worst days. Alexandria’s lungs were weak and would collapse almost daily. Both developed staph infections and needed blood transfusions every other day among other things. I hated leaving every day.
I prayed and prayed that God would keep watch over them and that His angels would surround them and protect them while I was gone.
On one tough day, Matthew’s pulse and oxygen rates kept dropping into unsafe territory. At one point the nurse started bagging him because he was not responding to anything else she tried.
As I paced, my mind yelled at the doctor to do something!
I started praying for God to intervene so this baby of mine would live.
Suddenly, it was as though a gentle weight on my shoulders was guiding me to my chair. I heard a voice in my heart that said, “Matthew will go home with you.”
That was all I needed to hear. Matthew would go home with me! My son was going to be alright. I was able to settle down and let God do His thing. Matthew’s numbers began returning to normal, and his skin turned pink again.
Alexandria had the worst time. She developed pneumonia in both bronchial tubes going into her lungs. She was unable to breathe on her own. The staff had to give her various drugs to paralyze her body so she would not fight the ventilator. Her skin turned gray from a combination of pain meds and the air forced into her lungs by a machine. All I could do was rub her head.
But she was a fighter!
Before she was 24 hours old, she had pulled the intubation tube out of her throat. The nurses would have to replace it 3 more times before she left that hospital.
After 10 weeks in the NICU, my babies came home. It wasn’t all that easy. They came home on heart monitors, and Alexandria still needed oxygen. But they were alive, and they were home!
God took care of my babies. He was faithful, and He had mercy on us.
He taught me that He loved these two babies more than I did. They were and are His. I am their caretaker, but He is their Creator and Father.
My husband and I surrendered all our rights to these two babies and gave them over to their Maker.
He gave them back to us. We have been loving and parenting them to the best of our ability for 21 years. We have made mistakes, but we have never forgotten who loved these two children first!