Ralph and Rhonda – always and forever. It’s been our theme from the time Ralph had it placed on his car’s license frame, to it being engraved in his ring, to now and beyond. But it’s not just words or a cliché’. Instead it’s the theme of a life held together by one powerful glue – COVENANT.
Thirty-four years ago today, we stood before friends and family and entered not just a commitment but a covenant. A covenant with God and each other. It was a beautiful ceremony, even though my drama director personality challenged the wedding planner. And my mom. I planned it in true Southern Belle fashion with a dress full of puffy ruffles and a very large wedding party. Standing outside those doors that day with dad and listening to “Love in Any Language” being sung, I started to panic wondering if the entire wedding party was going to make it on stage before the end of the song – and it’s a long song!
In the end, timing worked perfect and all 6 bridesmaids, 6 groomsmen, 2 miniature bridesmaids, two flower girls, ring bearer and miniature bride and groom were in place before the last note of the song. Friends and family had traveled from many states to join as witnesses in the sight of God that we were entering into a blood covenant until death parts us.
Death. It is not a subject we really took much thought of that day. But our understanding of covenant assured both of us that only death would separate us. It is not because we thought life would be easy. It completely was based on our understanding of God’s biblical perspective of covenant. He gave us the perfect example of covenant relationship by sealing His love for us through the blood of His Son. Just as He has made covenant to us, we made covenant to Him and to each other that hot June day.
No. Life has not always been easy. We have seen our share of good and not so good times. Yet even in the tough times, departing was never an option not just because it meant a break up of a family or bringing confusion to those under us in ministry. Even great than that it would be a turning back on our promised to God Himself that we made to Him before a crowd of witnesses.
Today, thirty-four years later, we find ourselves facing new challenges. This new place was a surprise. It’s not a place we ever looked down the road and saw in our future. Yet here we are hanging onto that covenant and to each other. Hanging onto the hope that only He brings. Twice now you have been sitting in a room surrounded by others who need hope. Hope of a future. Hope of fulfilling dreams and life plans. Yet each one of them connected to an IV that is pumping meds of chemo into their system.
Chemotherapy. The word itself can bring many different emotions and pictures into the minds of people. Lately is has become a more familiar word in our home for here we are. Walking through a turn in our life’s events. Yet believing this will be the turn that sets things back on the right path.
Amyloidosis. It’s not a common word. Not even in the medical field. Yet, it too has become a much spoken word in our home since the day we received a call from the doctor at Baylor stating, “The biopsy found amyloid protein in your eye tissue.”
From that call till now has been a whirlwind of events. We have had to research to find out what amyloid protein is. Your doctors scrambled to do their research and find out what path they were to take us on. From cornea specialist to ENT to pulmonary and primary doctor, they all have worked together and God had directed the steps.
In God’s perfect timing, we were led to a hematology oncologist who had actually seen amyloidosis before. Only Abba could have worked that miracle since even Baylor is using your case as an example because many doctors will never see amyloid in their lifetime. Yet God brought this one doctor here at just the right time. How amazing is our God!!
For such a time. God always does it. That June, we entered into covenant with Him. Although we haven’t walked this covenant out perfectly, we have remained faithful to Him and to each other. And here we are standing on our covenant! We are waging war in the spirit and we have a banner labeled ‘God’s Covenant’ that is flying over us. Covenant. Abba Father. He has been and always will be faithful to that covenant even when our circumstances bring questions to our minds.
It’s hard to hold you and hear you whisper, “We didn’t see this coming.” It hurts to see you hurting and watch the tears slip out of the corner of your eyes. At times it seems unreal that the athletic man I married can no longer run three miles a day but instead is weakened by attempting to walk around the block. Other times I cry out to Father for understanding, asking Him to once again take you in the Spirit to His throne room as He has done often in times past.
True. We didn’t see this coming. But He did. Even when we read to each other the vows we wrote, He saw the times those vows would be tested. He saw that one day we would face a very real life-threatening disease. He saw – and He then agreed to enter into a covenant with us. And He is holding us every day.
Thirty-four years of walking with each other and God. In covenant we hold on no matter what comes our way. For whether I understand His ways or not, He is very present in our lives and preparing us for that day when we will see Him face to face.
Always and forever. It’s still our motto. It still speaks not just of Raphael and Rhonda. It speaks of His love and promise to walk with us through the trials of this life. With covenant we can stand even in the midst of this storm and smile into His face saying, “Abba, I trust You even with this for You are our…….
…….ALWAYS AND FOREVER COVENANT PROMISE.”
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Priceless memories and priceless friends now and forever.
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Healing for you Pastor Ralph, and peace and strength for you both. Thank God He is always with us.
Love You Both!!