【譯按：大衛與蓋兒夫婦（David and Gale Williams）原來是在美國服事國際學生的老師。在蓋兒之前，大衛曾經有過一位妻子，卻在服事黎巴嫩難民時受誤傷而死亡；大衛帶著新生的嬰兒以利亞（Elija）回到北美遇見蓋兒，婚後大衛仍經常回到黎巴嫩從事短期教育與社會關懷工作。最近，以利亞已經長大進入大學就讀，大衛與蓋兒也發現在若能具備英語教師的能力與資格，將能大大擴展工作的格局，因此蓋兒於2006年開始英語教學的碩士班學程。】
Last summer, when the July (2006) War broke out in Lebanon between Hezbollah and Israel, we knew God was knocking on the door of our house in Moscow, Idaho. We had served in that exact region and immediately entered into a role of constant communication and support for the group of Lebanese taking refuge in the basement of the church and the stream of people moving through the church on their way to safety out of the region. Just as immediately, we knew David should return as soon as possible to help with relief and proclamation of the Good News of redemption.
I had registered to begin a Masters program in teaching English as a second language. We prayed and decided I should stay and study and continue in our ministry with international students on the University of Idaho campus and in our home. David left for Lebanon as soon as the airport in Beirut was open. We didn’t know what the situation would be like or what God’s plan would be for him there.
Now it is nearly one year later. David and I speak with each other through Skype and email and have seen each other whenever possible. I will soon enter my second year of the masters program in the States, having just arrived back from being with David in Lebanon most of the summer. It is clear God is doing something new there, and that we are called to be a part of it.
We know that God uses everything for good for those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28). What is God’s purpose for our relationship in this time of separation? Scripture speaks of going without food while seeking God (Acts 13:2, 3), and speaks of husband and wife going without sexual relations for an agreed upon period of prayer (1 Corinthians 7:5). Being separated has been like fasting, experiencing again what it is to be spiritually hungry and spiritually satisfied. It has pushed me closer to Jesus, my first love. Both David and I are involved in intense activities. Because the other is not physically present, we have become more deeply dependent on God. Of course there are temptations in being geographically separated. During a period of fasting we set aside the daily requirements of food preparation and consumption. In being separated, David and I set aside the daily requirements of maintaining our relationship. I simply have more time, which I can use for God’s purposes or for my own. This summer when I was reunited with David, I recognized that I had slipped into the mindset of doing things independently and in my own way, and it was an adjustment to ‘be devoted to one another in love and prefer one another in honor’ (Romans 12:10). For me, the biggest temptation is to become independent of my spouse and self centered.
David and I constantly evaluate our long distance romance.
“Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you…” 1 Corinthians 7:5
I am ready at any time to leave the academic program I am in if it seems right for our marriage or our ministry. Marriage is death to self for the sake of the other, and one of the dangers of being separated is independence. Under the tutelage of God’s discipline, the blessing of being separated for a season is dependence on God and renewed appreciation of the gifts and support each of us brings to our marriage.