It is interesting what happens as one grows older. I’m not talking about hair growing out of your ears or that funny creaking sound your knees make when you climb stairs. I’m referring to something a bit more philosophical. In fact, getting more philosophical is one of the things that happen as one grows older.

Aging gives a perspective that just isn’t possible from the vantage point of lesser years. Patterns in lives begin to emerge, consequences of lifestyles become more apparent, and what really matters comes into greater focus. If somewhere in my future there is a quiet moment in a rocking chair, I will take time to ponder all of this. In the meantime, though, amidst the hustle of life that seems to increase day-by-day, I simply take a few moments now and then to reflect on these things.

I think back forty years to the voices telling me I was foolish to waste my time believing for my husband and our marriage. They said I was young and had my whole life ahead of me. Move on, they said.  It is taking too long and you’ve seen no change. At the time, from my young vantage point, their words made me wonder if indeed my life would just drift away as I waited. I found myself at a crossroads and I could have taken either path; giving up or standing strong.

Now, forty years later, I see how misguided their counsel was. Years of standing turned into years of healing and then into years of life-producing ministry together as husband and wife. It was not a quick process. Over the years our broken family, our wounded children turned into a powerful legacy of strong Christian parents and Godly grandchildren.  It takes time for God to build a lasting work.

What I learned as I stood has never left my heart. It was not just about our marriage. There were thousands and thousands of couples around the world that God wanted to reach with His truth. That crossroads was not just about me, not just about us. It was a choice that determined what would happen to lives far beyond my comprehension.

I’ve watched others through the years making choices based on what was good for the moment. I’ve watched others make choices that required a life-time of sacrifice. And through it all I am beginning to see that character is what matters in the end. Quick answers and easy solutions never bring lasting character development. Character is formed when we allow God to excavate the depths of our heart. I’ve begun to believe that circumstances are simply what God uses to get to those depths if we let Him. To us, circumstances are the main focus. To Him, I believe, they are simply the magnifying glass that reveals what is in our heart.

Through the years, those that I’ve watched make choices to get out of circumstances have had to make those same choices again and again. Saving oneself seems to never reach the depth of character development God is seeking. Saving oneself usually involves blaming someone else.

The people I have observed making decisions that allow God to search the depths of their heart, are the people I see emerging as gold from the refiner’s fire. It is hard today to find people with depth of character, people who have made decisions that didn’t necessarily benefit themselves at the time, but served a greater good.  When you meet them you know they have been with God.

So if today you are at that same crossroads where I found myself so many years ago, think ahead forty years, if you can, and picture what your decision is going to produce. Can you give God time to work deeply within your heart? No matter what someone else has said or done, no matter how dark the circumstances, can you let God focus on you right now? Can you get gut-level honest with God and totally transparent before Him? Because, you see, this is not about your marriage. It is about your character. Whatever the future may hold, who you are will always be in the center of it for you. Which road will you take?