The following story is written by David Langerfeld, associate pastor of Harrisburg Baptist Church in Tupelo, Mississippi. He wrote it in tribute to his wife Lynda. He graciously consented for me to put his story on the Crosswalk weblog.
Her family had come to America from Sweden. She had a typical Scandinavian look... Long blond hair; blue eyes; long slender legs; soft, blemish-free skin. She was gorgeous - she was beautiful. In fact, a professional international photographer in her hometown thought she was so pretty that he used a photograph of her to advertise his business.
But that was not her real beauty.
She was raised by some wonderful Christian parents and had become a Christian at an early age. Integrity, honesty and sweetness were just a few of her characteristics. In fact, at her engagement party, her sister, who knew her better than anyone, said that she had never heard her tell a lie.
All of her friends said the same thing about her: She was the sweetest girl they knew. She would never speak a harsh word about anyone. Everyone loved to be around her.
A young man she met in her freshman year started dating her and fell in love with her - both her exterior photographic beauty and the wonderful godly character of her inward beauty. She fell in love with him and they spent every free moment they could with each other over the next four years. They were committed to each other and they believed in waiting long before the "True Love Waits" Campaign ever existed.
One week after they graduated from college, they were married. They loved each other's company. They would walk together, exercise together, go on bike rides together, chaperone youth trips together - go to movies, watch TV, eat pizza, travel - all the things any normal couple would love to do together. They were so much in love.
She taught school for a year and then became a bookkeeper for a surgical supply company. One day, while she was working, for no apparent reason, she lost her balance and fell on the floor. She was later able to get up and went to see a doctor that night. He set her up to see a Neurologist.
The following day, it happened again. For no apparent reason, she lost her balance and fell. This time, though, she couldn't get up. She had lost all feeling in her legs. They wouldn't move. Her husband, had to come to the office and pick her up in his arms and carry her to the hospital. After six days in the hospital, the doctor gave this beautiful, active young lady the dreadful news. She had Multiple Sclerosis and she would continue to deteriorate.
This young couple, who had now been married only 18 months - who loved to go everywhere together and do everything together - would now face some new challenges. All their future plans would change, everyday life would change.
They would change.
For the next 30 years, this young lady did deteriorate. She had to take steroids (not the kind athletes use, but anti-inflammatory steroids). Her bones became brittle, breaking easily. Her face became puffy and bloated and she could not even put on make-up. Her body was a mess. She went from a walker, to an electric scooter, to a wheelchair. She could no longer feed herself, write her name, or control her own bodily functions. She now had to have someone stay with her 24 hours a day.
If that couple had not had the kind of committed love that's based first on a personal relationship and a commitment to Jesus Christ and second, on a love that's based on a commitment to each other, the marriage never would have lasted. In fact, a large percentage of the marriages where a spouse has MS, the other spouse leaves them. The other spouse won't stay committed to the constant care and the continual physical, psychological and mental changes that continue to occur.
Please hear me carefully - those two people are not heroes. They are not super-saints or super-Christians. They will be the first to tell you that they are not super Christians. Those two people are normal, ordinary people, empowered by the Love of God and a love for each other, to do what the world considers beyond normal and extraordinary.
I know this for a fact - because that woman, that beautiful young lady who will never walk again, who can't even feed herself, is Lynda Langerfeld - my wife. She's not a hero. I'm not a hero. We're children of God, doing what the children of God are supposed to do. Doing what His children are called to do. Doing what God expects of every man and every woman who make a vow before God on their wedding day.
Quite often, Hollywood will portray a "hero" sacrificing his life for his "heroine" in a film. In the world's eyes, he's a hero. In God's eyes, he's an ordinary man making an extraordinary sacrifice that every Christian who's committed to his spouse ought to make. Sacrificial, Committed Love is the rule, not the exception. We're not super-saints, we're not heroes when we're being faithful and committed to our mates. We're doing what God has called every husband and wife to do since the beginning of time.
Dr. Ray Pritchard is the president of Keep Believing Ministries. He has ministered extensively overseas and is a frequent conference speaker and guest on Christian radio and television talk shows. He is the author of 27 books, including Credo, The Healing Power of Forgiveness, An Anchor for the Soul and Why Did This Happen to Me? Ray and Marlene, his wife of 31 years, have three sons-Josh, Mark and Nick. His hobbies include biking, surfing the Internet, and anything related to the Civil War.