Marriage Is Just a Piece of Paper - Part 1
- Monday, June 25, 2007
My little sister, Lauren, is a phenomenal singer. Okay, she’s not my sister. But she is an amazing singer and songwriter. We’re a lot like sisters—she borrows my clothes, we share lots of meals together, and we love to hang out.
You may have heard her voice and not realized it, especially if you’ve ever heard the Cheetah Girls or The Bratz. Lauren and I have traveled together around the world doing concerts (for those of you who don’t know, I’m a rapper) and speaking to countless millions of young people about abstinence. She’s living the abstinent lifestyle and waiting for Mr. Right instead of settling for Mr. Right Now.
Lauren called me over the holidays just to holla at a sista. She said her grandfather, John, had moved in with her family. It was the first Christmas he’s been apart from his wife and it was taking a toll on everyone. The really hard thing was listening to her grandfather talk as if her grandmother, Mildred, was still alive. John was finding it difficult to be alone for the first time in more than 50 years.
Lauren shared their story with me. As a young girl, Mildred volunteered to write letters to the men in her church denomination who were serving overseas in the military during WWII. She befriended a young soldier with whom she became close pen-pals, and she was heartbroken to receive the notice that he had been killed in combat.
As sad as she felt, Mildred knew his family was grieving even more. She began writing letters to console the soldier’s family, and through this tragic event, she met the soldier’s younger brother, John. They quickly became good friends and wrote each other often, and as time passed they began to sense that this friendship could be more than just a pen-pal relationship. Though they had never even spoken on the phone, Mildred and John fell in love.
Keeping it to herself and praying to God for direction, Mildred continued to write to John as usual, until one day she received a letter that read, “If you can tell me the verses in the Bible that God has put on my heart, I will know that He has chosen you to be my wife.”
With more than 31,000 verses in the Bible, Mildred knew it was impossible without God’s help. It would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack or locating one star at random from our entire galaxy. But Mildred wrote John back and quoted Ruth 1:16-17: “Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”
That was the Scripture! The next day John packed his bags and moved from Texas to California, where he saw Mildred in person for the first time. They were married the next day. Lauren told me that they never spent any significant time apart, up until the day Mildred died. When that happened, John’s life was changed forever. As sad as it was to witness his mental and emotional distress over the loss of his wife, Lauren said that is exactly what she hopes to have one day: a marriage and family like her grandparents, John and Mildred.
Just a Piece of Paper?
Have you ever taken a good, hard look at a one-dollar bill? Have you really looked at the color of the ink, the feel and smell of the paper, the shape and the size, and read the year it was minted and the words printed on it—”In God We Trust”?
When I’m speaking in an assembly, I often ask students, “Who has a one-dollar bill easily accessible?” There’s usually one young guy who pulls a crinkled bill out of his front pocket and makes his way down to the front of the stage.
I ask if what he’s holding has value, and the guy always says yes. Then I hand him a $20 bill—or if I’m in a generous mood, I pull out a C-note—and ask him to analyze it.
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