6 Feb 2014 by Adeline Lum CM-
A Petaling Jaya girl who longed for a God-fearing man as a husband, Natalie Chow was singing in her church choir one day when she whispered a prayer to the Lord, “How nice if my husband is a worship leader, singing for God!” Alex Wong, a KL boy, on the other hand, dreamt of getting married earlier in life to the girl he loves.
And together through prayer, the Lord brought them to meet each other in an online dating website—Asian Friend Finder. Their online profile were simple and clear—‘Christian’ and ‘non-smoker’—whereby the system paired them together as friends.
“God enabled us to meet in the most unexpected way, which is on the Internet,” exclaimed Alex. “In the internet with possible fake characters and hidden intentions, we found ourselves.”
Although Alex thought that her response was brief and uninteresting in the beginning, he did not want to make a final judgment on her personality. Natalie, on the other hand, thought that he did not wowed her in their first talk on the phone as he was also brief and quiet on the phone.
DO NOT JUDGE A BOOK BY IT’S COVER
1 Samuel 16:7 NIV
But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
But after a short while, after their first phone conversation, Alex invited Natalie to his church in TTDI Gospel Hall to see him perform in a Christmas production. As time goes by, Alex’s maturity in thinking and family-oriented values stood out to Natalie.
“He meant what he says. I find that he’s a responsible person and has a high respect on elderly people. To me, a lot of guys his age would think of ‘enjoying himself first’ and don’t care about the rest. But he thinks about setting up a family, having a children, and also a house,” said Natalie.
And as they got to know each other, Alex decided to join her church in Renewal Lutheran Church (RLC) to serve side-by-side with her in the worship ministry.
“Serving together in the same ministry for God creates a good platform for courtship,” said Alex who started off as a back-up worship singer, and soon became a worship leader. Together on the same platform, they began to serve together and grow. And after a year of courtship, they planned to get married a year later, committing their plans to God.
During their courtship as well, Alex learned how Natalie was a wonderful supporter to him, especially in encouraging him to join singing competitions, to which he emerged as champion in ‘Search for Elvis’ singing competition held by Lite FM and BMG. To this day, Alex is recognized one of the best Elvis impersonators under the discipleship of Ht Long.
Proverbs 25:11 NLT
Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket.
And after two years of courtship, Alex believed that Natalie was the godly wife for her, where they understood each other in many areas.
“We can talk for long and we enjoy doing things together like bowling, singing karaoke, baking moon cakes. And at time, we also do quiet time together. I have enjoyed her company,” said Alex.
Remembering words of wisdom by his youth fellowship teacher, Alex remembered that one of the main criteria of choosing a partner is whether you want him or her to be the father or mother for your future children.
“That question itself can narrow down the choices, and of course, being equally yoked enabled us to have common goals, understanding, and realistic expectations,” said Alex.
Natalie added, “He’s different… I was also told at that time, if you find a guy who puts God first, you will have a lasting marriage,” she said. The peace in her assured her that Alex was the man God has for her.
MARRIAGE IS SACRED
They got married on the 1st of May, chosen because it was a public holiday for every anniversary. Her Chinese name also coincidentally ended with ‘May,’ and 1st May symbolized him prioritizing her above everyone. Ironically, Alex also found out that Elvis got married on the same day years later!
“To me, marriage is the ultimate level of love, not so much about intimacy. But if you love someone, you would want to marry her and spend your life with her and start a family. All these are built on love,” said Alex. Marriage is the ultimate level of relationship for Alex because he believes that he should marry only one person for life.
“It’s a life decision, and the joy of love comes from marriage, knowing that you officially have a wife, acknowledged by God. Marriage is a partnership instilled by God to accompany each other through life’s journey,” he added.
Genesis 2:24 NIV
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Matthew 19:4-6 NIV
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Alex believed that marriage is sacred, marked by the sealing of both persons’ virginity. His RLC senior pastor Joshua Yee, once said in a church service that the marriage covenant is as sacred as the blood covenant between Abraham and God. Abraham was called to sacrifice Isaac—who was later replaced by a ram—to God. The blood covenant was made as a symbol to bless Abraham for the multitude of descendants he would have, resembling the permanent signature of both Abraham’s and God’s. And by reserving virginity for marriage, the bleeding of the bride on the wedding night symbolizes the blood covenant between a man and a woman—both physical and spiritual—which is a binding and sacred union in the eyes of God.
“Marriage is sacred, it is a vow you made in front of God and we have to keep,” Natalie added in agreement.
And a life’s journey includes the ups and downs—the ups to share the joy with your partner and also the downs to share your burden with your partner. This partnership is meant to flourish into something more beautiful over time; strengthen your character, teach you to give and take, accept your partner’s imperfections, and provide a good platform to manifest the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
“Only Jesus is perfect, we cannot expect our partner to be perfect. And with a few years of such training, you are ready to be a parent, to be a good example to the kids,” said Alex.
When they got married, they committed their relationship as an ‘oak tree’, whereby God is their gardener because an oak tree is a strong-lasting tree. And over the years, this ‘oak tree’ has grown well.
CHILDREN ARE A GIFT FROM GOD
Joshua 24:15c NIV
…But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
After getting married for three years, Alex and Natalie were blessed with their first child Bradley, followed by two other children. Although Alex admitted times of stress while raising their children, he believed that partnership and sharing tasks make raising children better.
“Eventually, you learn to be patient and appreciate what your parents went through. It also enables you to reflect on the love of God to us and how we in turn share this love to love our kids,” said Alex. “Children are a blessing from God. In times like this, many couples are childless and having healthy normal children is already a blessing itself.”
Psalm 127:3 NLT
Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.
Children change the priorities in life, shared Alex, whereby the couple tend to focus more on the children’s needs than the spouse’s needs. Hence, Alex felt that husband and wife has to be careful in striking a balance, especially in finding time for quiet time with God, the children, and each other. They desired that children can be raised and stewarded well into becoming God-fearing children of God.
LOVING EACH OTHER AS HUSBAND AND WIFE
Also, if one wants to be a good father, he needs to be a good husband first. How does a husband realistically love his wife like how Christ loves the church? Alex shared that it is about putting his spouse and family before himself, or making them happy at the expense of his self-inconvenience. He believed that being selfless to his wife is the key to a happy marriage.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
Alex also appreciates his wife who had been a godly wife to him. In humility, he deeply valued her constructive feedback, which is meant to build him up and not tear him down.
“It could be a need to change my attitude or a good quality that I should keep or even magnify. Initially, it takes a while to get used to. It may seem as a criticism but I understand that it’s meant to make me a better person.
Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you.
“It’s better to have her as a critic than outsiders. She encourages me when I am down. At times, when I am down, I just want to release my sadness and my frustration. And she is there to be a good listener,” said Alex.
To build her husband up, Natalie gave constructive advices to her husband such as to socialize more with his colleagues to build a better rapport. He realized that listening to her helped him to come to his senses, and be more consciously aware of the dos and don’ts in life.
Proverbs 14:1 NIV
The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
To overcome the difficulty in listening to advices from wives, Alex was reminded that his wife Natalie had only good intentions for him, which is to be a better person. God put wives as help-mates, so that they can be used to help their husbands.
“Wives also have a special intuition given by God. They are discerning in areas that we men can overlook. I usually consult my wife for big decisions and very often, the advice I get is sound and gives me peace.
“Men should look beyond the male chauvinism to examine themselves in the light of constructive feedback. When we change for the better, we personally benefit,” said Alex.
He understood and acknowledged that God made men and women equal. As a husband, he also appreciates his wife for going through labor pains and also being the more vulnerable gender that needs men to protect, love, respect, and uphold.
1 Peter 3:7 NIV
7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
GOD IS WITH US
Besides advising, praying helps immensely as well in encouraging each other especially when one’s faith is low. Natalie was pregnant with her second son Brandel and she was worried because he did not have a heartbeat. But during these hopeless moments, Alex had absolute faith and convinced her to also have faith in God as well. He assured her that if God blessed them with a baby, He will make a way for them. After a week, the baby has a heartbeat and has now grown into becoming a healthy seven-year-old boy.
“There are many more amazing miracles in our lives and I believe it’s us praying together as husband and wife,” said Alex.
Matt 18:19-20 NIV
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
He recalled another instance where by they were entitled to stay in Perth for one week in any selected resort worldwide, due to their membership in a timeshare vacation club. Nevertheless, the resort that was closer to Perth was unavailable for them to choose, unless they choose to pay more. Hence, they settled for the next best alternative, which was an extra hour further away from Perth. But a few weeks before their vacation, the club called them to inform them that their selected alternative was closed of the week, hence they were given their desired resort at no extra cost!
“As we committed our travel plans to God, I believe He made that happen for us at the perfect timing. It was only that specific week the resort was closed. God never fails to surprise me,” said Alex.
FINDING PEACE IN MARRIAGE
Also, Alex thought that conflicts in marriage are normal and inevitable. Although settling conflicts is not easy, it is not impossible either. As husbands, he thought that if he learned to give in to his wife even when he thinks that he is right, he believes that would please God.
Ephesians 4:26 NIV
"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry
From his experience, when a husband or wife insist he or she is right, you may win the argument but you may end up losing more than you have won. The argument may have hurt the relationship more and one may need to do more just to restore the relationship.
“You won the argument, so what? Does that make you the happiest person on earth? Now, you have to make good terms with the other person. In situation where conflict is a true matter of differing opinions, it’s good to hear one another and agree to disagree,” said Alex.
From his Marriage Enrichment Course he took in church, he learned that resolving the argument at a later time, when two parties are calmer to speak sensibly helps.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
“It’s not a piece of object that you are dealing with. But you are dealing with another person or spouse who has reactions or emotions. It’s even more complex when you live together with your spouse at the start of your marriage,” he added.
Alex felt that the conflicts are meant to smoothen out the rough surfaces between two different people who are sharing lives together. Eventually, both develop a mutual understanding and realistic expectations of one another.
Natalie added, “A godly wife is being submissive though I am still trying hard on being submissive, but God placed my husband as the head of the family. So, as a wife, if we cannot get into an agreement, I would follow my husband’s decision.”
Ephesians 5:22-24 NIV
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
MARRIED ON THE ROCK OF JESUS
“Marriage is a fulfilling experience that brings the best out of a person, which in turn contributes true joy and happiness into the marriage. It’s a cycle that keeps getting better, with the guidance from God,” said Alex.
“Actually, in a marriage, there isn’t a perfect husband or perfect wife. It’s about sharing strengths and complementing weaknesses. We complement each other most of the time. So, things which I am not good in, he’s good in it. The only perfect person is Jesus,” said Natalie who thanked Alex for accepting her for who she is.
And such is God’s design for a marriage. Although it is not perfect, the Lord says that whoever who listens to his Words and puts them into practice, is a wise man who built his house on the rock. Hence, when trials and challenges hit the marriage, it would not fall away because the husband and wife are firmly built on God’s everlasting Words!
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
May your marriage be built on the rock of Jesus Christ!
Note: Married for 12 years now, Alex and Natalie have three healthy sons; nine-year-old Bradley, 7 year old Brandel, and one-year-old Bryant.