There was a very small window when Ruth was the more prominent one in our relationship. We were newly married and she got involved with the worship group at church, while I sat in the pew saying and doing nothing worthy of notice. In those days I was known as ‘Ruth’s husband’. Eventually I began preaching, and even ended up working for the church for a few months, so that was the end of that. Since those days Ruth has mostly been ‘James’ wife’.
I am typically the more public of the two of us, which is ironic because she is infinitely more sociable than I am, and better with people generally, but that’s just one of the many crosses that she has to bear. It’s also ironic because most people don’t realise that, when they’re thanking or encouraging me for my speaking or writing, there would be no words without her. Without her, life would have chewed me up and spat me out many years ago. I only have things to say because of the road we’ve travelled, and without her I wouldn’t have survived the journey. She has been my best friend and my most loyal champion over the years, and without her I dread to think what kind of existence I would have had.
I don’t believe that there’s Biblical justification for the concept of ‘soul mates’, but I do believe that there are certain partners who will bring out the best in us, and who will be of almost limitless help in our journey to become more like Jesus. I also believe that when looking for a spouse, the question “Will this person help me grow, and can I help them grow?” is without doubt the most important question to ask. I was young when I married, and I didn’t know what I was doing, but I was pursuing God, and that shaped the many conversations that He and I had about Ruth. Knowing me as He does, He knew that she would be good for me. Ruth has been my greatest proof of God’s generosity and grace.