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The Mystery of Marriage a Love Story
January 31, 2016
With Martha Kilpatrick and hosted by John Enslow
(Martha) Some years ago when my daddy died, I had this lovely friend. She wasn’t close, but she was so wise. She said to me, “Martha, I’m coming over, and I want you to tell me all about your daddy.” That was dearest thing I think anyone said to me, willing to listen. And so, I’m here again. Most of you know that my husband passed away on the 11th of January. We’ve been through two years of his severe illness with myasthenia gravis. Prayer all over the world for him, and all my dear friends wrote to me so many times they were praying for him, who they had never met. At the end of that time his doctor said to me, “Your husband is a miracle.” And then he had some strange pain that he kept saying was from that, and I kept saying, “You need to go to the doctor.” And so, in God’s perfect timing he went. And the doctor thought he had a kidney infection and had some tests and MRI. And one morning on the 17th of December, the day before our 57th anniversary, the doctor called us and said, “Come in.” I knew that meant serious, but I was totally unprepared for what she said; that he had pancreatic cancer and liver cancer. It was inoperable, untreatable and extremely advanced. So, from that day he lived 25 days, very short time. He suffered, but not a lot. It was a sweet time, a loving time, a desperate time. And when he passed away, I heard the nurses in the room, but I didn’t wake up because they were there turning him. I didn’t know he was gone until they awakened me, and I looked at the clock and it was 3:17 AM. I believe he died at 3:07 because Gaby in Austria was deeply disturbed by the time of 3:07. And I waited until a little bit later to call the children. And I kept thinking about that number, 25 days. I’m fascinated with numbers in the Bible because they’re very significant to the stories. Even the Hebrew language, you know, is based on numbers. And I’ve studied the significance of numbers a long time, and I knew the significance to 25. And when I looked it up days later, I knew it meant the number of grace, but 5 times 5 was the entire grace. And I read that 5 represents Father, Son, Spirit, Creation and Redemption. And I knew that in our life and in our life with Christ, that there had been a complete and final redemption in ways that cannot be told in this life. So, if you’ll indulge me, I want to talk about my husband, Kenneth Kilpatrick, a great man and a normal man.
We have a pastor for the first time in many years. His name is Steve Schofield. And he came to visit Kenneth after the cancer was diagnosed, and Kenneth told him his whole life’s story. He began with how he met me, so I’m going to tell it. It’s really… It’s a story. When the funeral was planned, and we all sat around, the children and their wives and Steve and I. I didn’t want to speak, because I didn’t think I could. And I realized that I have a story to tell, that everything is a story. Your life’s a story. My life’s a story. Every story, every life is a story. And the end of the story is the story, and I had to speak. So I spoke for six minutes about our life together. I’ll tell you about that in a minute. But here’s what my husband told Steve.
He had already passed the bar to be a lawyer in the state of Georgia. He was already an officer in the Navy. He was on his way to an intensive school in Rhode Island at the Naval Academy there. And I was sixteen. And I was in the gym practicing for my famous part (chuckling) in the first drill team of Forest Park High School. It’s extremely important, you see, because it was the first. And though we had homemade outfits, we thought we were really something special, because we could march and do a design on the football field. And so, I was there practicing, and Kenneth said to my friend, who was the pastor’s son, Danny… Danny was a couple years older than me, and I liked him very much, wanted to date him. And he said to Danny, “Who is that girl?” And Danny told, “It’s Martha Blaney.” He said, “Can you ask her if she could date me.” He said, “Sure.” So Danny comes to me and says, “Martha, would you like a date?” And I brightened up because I thought it was Danny. And he showed me Kenneth and introduced us. And Kenneth said to me, “You’ll have to ask your father if you can date me, because I’m so much older.” Very wise. It hadn’t occurred to me. And I didn’t even know, you know, whether I would or not. So he came to the house and asked my daddy. And I think my daddy saw in him somebody that would take care of me, and maybe relieve him a little bit. So he consented. We dated a few times and then he left and we corresponded by mail, because he was in the China sea off the coast of Russia, very intense time of the cold war. And while he was at sea, he proposed to me. Well, when I was sixteen and met him and dated him a few times, I fell in love with him, and I knew this was the only man I would ever, every marry; the only man I ever trusted enough to marry. So, when he asked me to marry him I was in college, and I didn’t really want to. I had gotten on my knees at sixteen and said, “God, this is the man I want,” and it seemed like it wasn’t going to ever happen. And how could it happen to me? But when he proposed at eighteen, I wanted to stay in college, but I asked the Lord, and the Lord said, “Now. This is My will.” I didn’t walk with the Lord that well, but He gave me His will, and so I married him at eighteen. So for 60… 57 some odd years and more, Kenneth was the center of my life.
When I told the story at his funeral, I had been… In the days since he passed, I kept hearing this obscure verse. “The end of a thing is better than its beginning.” I think it was in Ecclesiastes, but it was. “Better is the beginning of a thing, than its ending,” and I kept going over that verse and over that verse. When I realized I had a story that I had to tell, I went back to the beginning. And the beginning was God’s ordained purpose and will for me. We had so much fun in our early life. We had all kinds of adventures. And we had fun with the children. And I told the story about… This was typical of us. We’d go to church with two cars, and the boys would sit with Kenneth, and Julia, the only girl, would sit with me. We were the little girls and they were the little boys. There was the 40 years old boy and a 7 and 8 year old boy in one car and we would race every Sunday to see who got home first. And we would take this way and that way, and we would speed through Forest Park and try to win the race. Well, one time I got to the driveway before him, and I thought, “Oh, boy, we won at last.” And then I said, “I know you, Kenneth Kilpatrick, you will go over the grass that you so love. You will drive right over that grass and get in front of me. I know you will do it.” And sure enough, he did, over the bumpy places of the grass. And the boys were bounding and rolling and rolled the window down and said, “We win, we win!” And that was kind of typical of our life. We had a lot of fun and a lot of love. We were very blessed. We had many things in our lives that were, most people want. We also had a lot of trouble and a lot of grief. When we had three children in college, my husband lost his job, because he would not perform and illegal, unethical deed for First National Bank of Atlanta. And so, he lost his job. That’s when he was appointed to the judgeship, which he considered not his favorite position, but his most God ordained position.
So we met with our pastor, Steve Schofield, before the funeral and sort of planned who was going to say what. And at that time Julia sat on the hearth, and I have never seen her more beautiful or more divine than on that hearth. And we all wept, because she talked about how in the end of his life she took care of him a great deal during the last ten years and more. She was very much responsible to help him. They enabled me to keep up with the ministry, and she and Sam looked after him so I could be gone. Then she told the story that at the end of these years he became her friend and not her father. And then when he was diagnosed with cancer, she could minister to him, and he could hear her. And I remember what she… I was sitting there when she told him, “You don’t have to fear. There’s nothing to fear,” because she’s been through so much with cancer. And even now she is healed. But she said their relationship was based on Christ, and they shared God together. So, that’s the beginning and the ending of the story. The beginning was sovereign design, and the ending was just Christ. Some of you have heard me tell about my love for Kenneth. He was the love of my life and my marriage, what meant more to me sometimes than it should have, and God sometimes. One time the Lord said to me many years ago, “This marriage is not for your fulfillment or for Kenneth’s satisfaction. This marriage belongs to Me, and I will write the story as I please, and I will make the testimony what I want.” It was a very severe word, and very clear. And I released my marriage to Him then, and He did write a strange story of our marriage. We had great human love in the beginning, and in the end we had divine love. We had Christ’s love for each other. So, a book I read at the time, that I highly recommend is a book by a Catholic monk, who left the order and married. And he wrote a book called “The Mystery of Marriage.” Every married person should read it, and really every single person should read it, because in that book he says, his main thesis was that marriage is the cross. It’s a test of your heart. It’s a test of what you love. And that’s really true of every relationship. Every relationship, friend, brother, sister in Christ is a story of God. And it carries with it the cross. We think relationships are for fulfillment and to meet my needs and da, di, da, di da… No, relationships are a trial of love, a test of love, and if you’re faithful to God, an adventure of love. That’s every story, because every story is about love. So, I read this portion from my booket, “Why Am I.” I didn’t mention where it was from, but this is what I read at the funeral. “Everything is about love, and behind everything is the mystery of love, and love is the reason for it all. Love is the beginning and love is the end. And love will be the culmination of everything, and all things will be summed up in love. And when we see through that glass no longer darkly, we will see that it was about love all along, and only love. Love is the secret of the universe. I can tell you why the universe exists. I can tell you why you exist. Love. Love made it all. Love made you to love you. You were created because of love, and you were created for love and everything that is, is because of love. And love is the story, the only story. And the story is that here we were, wretched and needy, feeding off each other and Christ came to give us the love we lacked and wanted, the love of our dream. Christ came to this earth to write a love story in every person’s life if you’ll let Him. Your story will be about love, either about being loved and loving God, or about refusing love. That’s the meaning, that’s the purpose. God is love.” So, in both his long illness of over two years, we experienced the love of Christ. The love of Christ gave me the strength to go through it and endure it, and it was difficult for him and difficult for me. But we were bonded in love during that time that was from Christ. But when his caner came, we were immersed, soaked, melted in the love of Christ. That was all that was left was Christ’s love for him through me, and I told him once, and I haven’t told this before. In the fist days of his diagnosis all I could experience was Jesus’ excitement that Kenneth was coming to Him. Kenneth knew it was his time to go, and I did too. So, there wasn’t a fight, a resistance against it. In fact, he said, “I don’t want to be dragged into heaven, which is supposed to be my eternal place.” That statement affected many people. I think he was implying it would be an insult to this lovely God to fight the end, which is going to be so glorious. And so, we didn’t fight that diagnosis. We went into it, and we experienced God fully and totally. And he really… The nurse said to me in the hospice, “I can’t believe how fast he went down.” And I said, “Yes, and that is mercy.” And she said, “I’m so glad you see it that way, because most don’t.” Oh, I wanted him to see this Jesus, who was so excited for him to come home to Him. And I wanted him to be out of this terrible condition.
When Lee heard… When I called Lee about an hour after he died, Lee experienced joy, immediate joy that he was in heaven, and that he was free. We always want this life to be something it isn’t and never will be. We always want perfection in every area. We just think that’s what it’s supposed to be. No, perfection waits for us. And now he’s in a perfect world with a perfect body with a perfect life with a perfect God. And he knows it all as perfect. And though we went through many sufferings in our marriage and many joys and many memories and many phases, some wonderful and some terrible, when it came to the end, and I was in that hospice with him, I realized it was all perfect.
Everything had been so sovereignly planned, the worst of it and the best of it. And I think it’s Lamentations says God gives us blessings, and He gives us calamity. Shall we not praise Him for both? Shall we not receive both? And that’s kind of the Jewish outlook. It’s a wonderful, sovereign knowledge of God. And I realized how perfectly I had been prepared for his going, and how perfectly he had been prepared for his going. And the end of the story was the story. And it was being one in the love of Christ. I’ve always believed that marriage, the oneness of marriage is two individuals who are united with Christ, living together in the oneness of Christ. And that’s where we ended. So, every story, if you’ll let it be, ends perfectly and ends in perfection. And then you can see that all the things you resisted and hated and fought and grieved over were wasted, because it was all perfect. And that’s why we’re told to give thank in all things. That’s why we’re told that “All things work together for good to those that love God and are called according to His purpose,” because everything is perfect. I’ve written a book for years on forgiveness, and I have finally got the ending. It’s a sticker on my computer, and it says, “In the end, there’s nothing to forgive, because all things are sovereignly planned, sovereignly orchestrated, sovereignly given, and sovereignly removed, so that there is no need for forgiveness.” God’s in that much control. And the joy is, ahhhh, there can be no regret. There can be no judgment of others and of yourself. There can be no wanting the story to be different. There’s only, “Yes, Lord. You were right all along, and You knew what You were doing. You knew what You were forming, and You were writing the story on Your own terms, not anyone else’s.” And the story is finished for this life. And in the next life we won’t be married, but we’ll be in the same place forever.
So, the story of our family was told at the funeral. The story of our marriage was told in six minutes, and then Pastor Steve told the story of Kenneth, which I had named it, “Kenneth’s Story.” And he kept that name for his message. He told the entire accomplishments of Kenneth, and so it was a complete homegoing, along with bagpipes. Of course we had to have bagpipes for the Kilpatrick, Colquhoun Clan, and Lee brought the tartan of the Colquhoun Clan, a Scotsman married to an Irish girl. It’s no small miracle culturally. But Julia said she wanted the bagpipes to escort us in with the song, “O, Danny Boy,” and that is a heart wrenching song for me. I didn’t know I could, I really didn’t think I could bear it. And so, when we were going down behind the bagpipes, somehow the Lord blocked that for me, so I didn’t hear it. I really didn’t hear it. But I looked up the words, and I wanted to play just a couple of stanzas, because it’s sort of our story.
I just want to read to you the lyrics. I just want to go over the lyrics of “Danny Boy,” because it is very poignant to me. You’ll hear the bagpipes in a moment.
“O, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side.
The summer’s gone, and all the flowers are dying.
‘Tis you, ’tis you must go and I must bide.”
This morning is the 22nd, and Kenneth passed away eleven days ago. This morning I opened my Bible, and this is the most perfect Scripture. Hosea 6:1-3. And I read it in the Holman. I love the Holman. “Come, let us return to the Lord for He has torn us, and He will heal us. He has wounded us, and He will bind up our wounds.” That’s, that’s the cross. Whatever the cross is, that’s the cross. “He will revive us after two days, and on the third day He will raise us so we can live in His presence.” Why does He raise us? So that we can enjoy and know and live in is presence. “Let us strive to know the Lord. His appearance is as sure as the dawn, and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the land.” I have experienced a type of resurrection, an energy and a power to go on. I remember Carole after her loss of Don sat in my living room and said, “I want to live.” That was her resurrection, and it is mine too. I want to live, and I am supposed to live. So, I thank God that His resurrection power is sure. He will revive us after two days, and on the third day, He will raise us. Why? So we can live in His presence.
So, those of you who have listened with me, I appreciate your listening to me about my husband’s passing. And I don’t presume that everybody is interested, but many of you have stood with me through this time, and I thank you, and I love you. And I can tell you that your prayers for my enduring and my strength and God’s enabling were answered powerfully.
From the time that we began to go to the funeral, I was just shivering and shaking. I could barely walk. My sons had to help me up to the podium, and I sat down while Lee and Scott were speaking, and I thought, “I cannot even speak. I cannot do this. I cannot even stand up.” And I took a deep breath, an I said, “Lord, I receive all the prayers that are going out for me,” and immediately I had complete strength, and you would have never known when I stood up to speak that there was ever any weakness. But I received the prayers that were going for me in that moment, and it literally came into my body, the power that everyone was praying for. God bless you all. I love you.
“Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side.
The summer’s gone, and all the roses falling
‘Tis you, ’tis you must go and I must bide.
But come ye back when summer’s in the meadows
Or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow
‘Tis I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow
Oh, Danny boy, Oh Danny boy, I love you so.”
Your teachings have meant so much to me and my wife. You were discovered by us at turning points in our lives. Your personal love story as you reminisced, was comforting to me. May God bless you in your earthly years ahead.
Thank you Martha for sharing that beautiful story. I stand amazed at the depth of His great Love for us! We are all truly blessed to be able to have that complete rest in Him.
Bless you Martha for sharing this, especially about giving and accepting love. He is Love.
Loving you deeply.
Martha, we praise God for you and Christ’s glory fulfilled in your marriage. Thank you for sharing to us who are far away.
Thank you so very much for sharing your story. It is helping me through a difficult time, that I now understand much more clearly because of your words. Just amazing how very connected we all are. Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His saints. Love to all of you.
thank you for enttusting such a beautifully strong, yet fragile pearl to our eyes, our hearts …we live in different countries, our feet touch different soil yet the love of Love has crossed all boundaries, all time zones through you, through your words …. I “see” you standing with your hands wide open, palms up, releasing this offering and not one word falls to the ground …I give all praise to God for His connecting us so many,many years ago ….. thank you for being you …
Thank you for sharing this, dear Martha.
Dear, dear Martha! I am reduced to nothing but tears and I don’t know what to say because I feel that words are not always enough…
Thank you dear woman for sharing this love story. Your story. Your life!! It reflects Jesus Christ to me in so many ways! And constantly points me to the cross!
I sit by my living room window, watching the birth of a new day and I don’t know what to say but that you are precious to me dear Martha! We have never met. We have never spoken. Yet! But I love you too!
May you go on. In Christ. In Love…
Much love to you, Martha — thank you for sharing His love story.
I remembered today these lines, and I felt propelled to share them. It is our brother Paul, and the words we all know so well…
“… through all these things (sword, danger, nakedness) we are more than conquerers through Jesus Christ”.
The word that stood out is “more than conquerers”. That’s something I don’t know mentally what it means, and probably it means something I think “I have yet to know”, but yet within I know this is an ongoing reality in Jesus Christ. I don’t really know what that means… probably it just means “Christ”. And just to think brother Kenneth is so near this Christ makes me a bit envious.
As the prayer of old would say… “we’ll see you in glory!!!”
Love to the Body
you are the most beautiful, most challenging, most amazing person I’ve ever met in my whole life.
No words, Martha. I will just say how downright shocking it is to see His Resurrection come through your pain. It has always been so since I know you. This holds me speechless and awed at Him.
i love you martha.