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 (Manna 59: Technology and Entertainment)
My Journey to Marriage
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My Journey to Marriage

Suechuan G Jeng—Taichung, Taiwan

When I was young, I sketched out what I thought my other half would be like. That portrait of him changed with the passing years, but I never anticipated that I would be marrying a complete stranger!

It happened on a Wednesday. The sky was cloudy and it was cold. Friends poured into the church from miles away, not to see me but to see him. They wanted to see what kind of man I was marrying. They were amazed that a person who loved to sing about love and romance chose to marry in such an old-fashioned way.

Yet, a friend in church remarked, “This is a miracle.” She knew my history of battling to marry according to God’s will, something I had struggled with for many years.

PRESSURE TO GET MARRIED

By the spring of 1971, finding me a husband had become the number one priority in my family. My parents, who were unbelievers, feared that their daughter would pass the spring of her youth alone and forgotten. They sounded calls for help from all corners, and matchmaker after matchmaker came to our door reporting for duty.

I had been fervently studying the Bible at the time; I would read the Bible, pray, and attend church services daily. I longed to graduate quickly from a new believer to a mature and strong Christian. I told Jesus firmly at that time, “Lord, I must live for You. I will marry only if You want me to.”

Even though I continued to be introduced to non-church members, my heart remained steadfast. I participated in the matchmaking only to comfort my parents.

After each introduction, I would pray to God with the same conviction. I knew that He would not want His sheep, which took so much effort and hard work to find, to be led away by a stranger.

As time passed by, ministers and sisters at church also started talking to me about getting married. Soon, my name topped the list of people to be married off. Originally the reason was, “My mom wants me to get married.” But now, time was no longer on my side.

I reluctantly agreed to renounce myself for the greater good. Marriage it was.

Trouble from Every Side

Even though I had enough matchmaking sessions to fill a book, marriage was more like the fleeting clouds and difficult to grasp.

My mother had trouble sleeping because she was so worried that her precious daughter would die an old maid. My father went to the temple numerous times to plead for good opportunities. The opportunities came, but they also passed.

The Bible says to be anxious for nothing but to entrust all our burdens to God. But my mother’s anxiety made it hard for me to trust. Each day after work, I would kneel alone in the prayer room at church and plead with God. I prayed that my mother would not blaspheme the Jesus she did not know, because she believed that it was Jesus’ fault that I was still single.

To comfort myself during those difficult times, I would read the Book of Job and Psalms. Tears would stream down my cheeks. I would think, “Either Satan has been causing trouble in front of God, or God is trying my faith.”

In the past, I often said, “What shall separate me from God? Shall tribulation? Shall swords? Shall false brothers?” Maybe I was overconfident and that was why God allowed trouble to barrage me continuously. I realized that I was no better than a Pharisee and that there were many things that could separate me from God.

Even so, many brothers and sisters around me offered unceasing prayers on my behalf. It was their fragrant intercessions of love that reached the courts of heaven. It was because of their love that God did not quench the smoldering flax or break the bruised reed that I had become.

FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT

When a sister and a deacon initially mentioned my future husband, who lived abroad, my heart was already like stagnant water. Spiritually, I was on my last breath. Worst yet, I no longer insisted on marrying only in the Lord. In fact, I had just gone on my first date with an unbeliever.

On that date, we sat in a softly lit coffee shop while the pianist played a popular song from the musical based on Don Quixote:

            To dream the impossible dream,
To fight the unbeatable foe,
To reach the unreachable star…

I talked as tragically as Don Quixote about how I came to believe in Christ, my exasperation with marriage, and how I no longer believed in romance. I also spoke about my desire to have a Christ-centered family.

My honesty did not scare him off. Instead, he became a frequent visitor at my house. My parents were elated.

During that time, dinner table conversations sometimes resulted in intense debates, analyses, and discussions on how to help me make a decision about my marriage.

My mother did not want me to marry abroad. My brother and sister-in-law told me, “It is more blessed to be loved than to love,” and that made sense to me at the time.

My more open-minded father urged me to consider faith and religion. He thought that I was religious to the brink of insanity and marveled at why someone who believes in Jesus would have to go to church every day.

With each passing debate, my defense on Jesus’ behalf became weaker and weaker.

Loneliness knows no bounds. Despite a new feminist movement in Taiwan at that time, I could not gather strength. I still needed to be loved.

As a result, I wrote a very long letter expressing my honest viewpoints and hopes about love and sent it across the ocean via airmail to my future husband. I asked him not to be too polite to reject me. The post office returned my letter because it was overweight.

I rewrote the letter, condensed the content, and resent it. This time, the letter was much more toned down.

At this time, a deacon shared a Bible passage that became the turning point for me. These verses came to his mother when she was praying for my marriage:

            Then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. (Jer 32:39, 40)

The Lord once again shed His light upon my path.

One day, I received an international phone call. I was startled to hear my future husband’s voice on the other end. He said he wasn’t forced into marriage, clarifying that it was out of his own will. He boldly decided, “Okay, it’s settled.”

I was very moved as I put down the telephone. He was brave. How many men would choose to spend his life with a woman he doesn’t even know?

At the time, I wanted to talk to Jesus. I wanted Him to tell me what my next move should be. I wanted a checkmate.

The Source of Love

Once again the Holy Spirit filled me, and I reassessed the meaning of love.

Is love the erratic beating of the heart and having someone to hold? Can love be likened to a child who sees something he likes and wants to possess it? No. That is passion. Passion is affected by time and space.

All of the romantic poems and songs I had read and listened to were wrong about love.

Love means grasping hold of God because He is the source of love. If the love of this world is severed from Him, it becomes nothing.

I finally understood that I could not lose Jesus. Had I not hoped that He would become the Lord of my household?

Ecclesiastes 7:14 says, “In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider.”

I thought back to the days when I was strong, the days when I went up to the temple of the Lord. The days when my heart was filled with joy. The memories threw me into deep sorrow at how far I had wandered. The penetrating pain made me once again cherish how valuable it was to be a Christian.

LAST MINUTE STRUGGLES

I met my in-laws for the first time on the day I got engaged. As for the one with whom I would share the rest of my life, I could only speculate from his picture. He looked tall and handsome, smiling in front of a chapel at his university.

I met him three days before the wedding. The deacon who introduced us brought him to my house. Although I felt a little embarrassed, everything went very smoothly. On the other hand, my friends were anxious for me. They thought that my decision was ridiculous.

On the eve of my wedding, a close friend called me. She spent more than an hour saying whatever she could to dissuade me. “You have to be decisive. All you have to do is send a letter of apology to those you have invited to the wedding,” she said. “Whatever you do, don’t ruin a life of happiness so hastily.”

Her words of urgency resonated in my ears, and I could not sleep all night. Anguish once again surrounded me.

The night was long and painful. In the darkness of the night, I saw hideous faces flash before my eyes. They were shades of dark green and red. They laughed at me.

In a state of half-consciousness, I remembered Jesus. But why did I not have the strength to shout “Hallelujah”?

In my struggle, I suddenly saw the eaves of a roof. From it appeared two bright shafts of light that formed into a cross. Tears streamed down my cheeks. At that moment, my pain vanished.

The Big Day

I must thank my Father in heaven who abided with me. He blessed me with more than I had asked for. Not only did He give me my husband, He also gave me such kind in-laws. My parents were extremely satisfied and regarded my husband as the ideal son-in-law.

I must also thank my brothers and sisters in Christ who supported me and showed concern for me, especially Deacon Hsieh, who fought along my side throughout this journey.

On December 17, 1975, my father escorted me down the aisle to the groom who was waiting patiently and quietly at the other end. Dressed in my white wedding gown, I stood with him in the chapel. I tried to keep tears from pouring down my cheeks as my heart brimmed with thanksgiving.

As I walked into the chapel, my only regret was that I still did not know my own husband. But as long as Jesus knew him, there was no need to worry. We could start the introductions after the wedding!

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Author: Suechan Jeng
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