I wake up at all hours of the night pleading with God for relief.

“Please, Father, take this pain away from me! Don’t make me go through this!”

But in the darkness of late nights and very early mornings, I hear no answer. Not yet. Still I see my wife slipping away bit by bit. And it is now true that she is no longer what she once was to me. She is no longer my confidant. The time for fleshing out ideas and making plans with her is over. And I’m certain that it will never return.

Like an aging photograph, who she was is fading into obscurity. And one day in the not too distant future, she will be somewhere else – somewhere I can’t reach her.

Still, God has tasked me to serve her – to place her at the center of my affections. If she never needed me before, she needs me now. God has plainly told me that. And I have no desire to shirk that privilege.

“For the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.”

And God’s call to me is to embrace the mission of my Lord – to forsake self gratification and plead for the grace to serve – to give to those who cannot return the favor.

I’m learning this late in life – but not too late. It is never too late.

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ JESUS…did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking on the nature of a servant.”

I did not plan for it to turn out like this. I didn’t want it – I still don’t. But I deeply desire the outcome of embracing the mission of Christ…to serve someone who cannot help me in return. For their sake – not mine.

I want to know that I was faithful to God (to the best of my flawed abilities). I want to know that I honored my bride – to reflect in some way that I am grateful for God’s mercy on my behalf, that I am also grateful for her faithfulness to my Lord and to me.

“Consider it pure joy, my bothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

I want God’s work to be done in me. I plead with God to strip away anything that hinders my complete and utter dependance on him. I want to be complete.

I’m not there yet, but God is chipping away at my self-reliance and independent spirit.

Father, I beg you to empower me to faithful obedience no matter what my circumstances are. I know that complete fulfillment is found only in you, so guide me to that place – forcefully, if you need to. I am a stubborn and willful man. Yet I deeply long for more. Take me there. I want no more than that. Thank you for teaching me to serve. I pray that I will take up my cross and follow you day by day.