Friday, August 7, 2015
Precious, Priceless Marriage
"I didn't marry you because you were perfect.....I married you because you gave me a promise. That promise made up for your faults. And the promise I gave you made up for mine. Two imperfect people got married, and it was the promise that made the marriage. And when our children were growing up, it wasn't a house that protected them; and it wasn't our love that protected them; it was that promise." Thornton Wilder
Anybody can get married, people do it all the time. Put on a white dress, stand before all your friends and family, make a vow and kiss. Eat cake. Go on a honeymoon and share a home. That's it, right? Now you're married. And if luck is on your side and things work out you'll be married "til death do us part." It really doesn't take much to be married like that.
But to have a marriage in which a picture of Christ and His church is made, that's a whole different story. That kind of marriage takes more than two human beings can give. It takes a man who will sacrificially give up his life and desires in order to cherish and love a woman. It takes a woman who will make it her life's mission to bless and encourage a man.
It takes two people learning to live for the happiness of another. It takes a covenant. A covenant that binds two hearts together, so that they are no longer two but one.
We recently celebrated our seventeenth wedding anniversary. I can't believe it's been that long! Looking back at my eighteen year old self, so in love, so full of hopes and dreams, I never could have imagined how God would use this covenant of marriage to shape me into the woman I am today.
I was looking forward to a life of being loved and cared for. I wanted Blue eyes to sing me love songs and make me feel beautiful forever. I imagined he'd go to work, while I met my friends for coffee and went shopping, then I'd make him gourmet dinners. After I learned to cook, that is. We'd spend our evenings in intimate conversation and cuddling. Of course, eventually there'd be several beautiful, happy babies. We'd be practically perfect parents and we'd all live happily ever after.
"We must never be naive enough to think that marriage is a safe harbor from the fall....The deepest struggles in life will occur in the most primary relationship affected by the fall: marriage." Dan Allender and Tremper Longman III
Years ago a friend told me about a book with the title What if Marriage isn't to Make us Happy but to Make us Holy? Or something close to that. I've never seen the book, but I love the title. I've thought a lot about that title. What if marriage was not made primarily to make us happy? What would our marriage be like if my focus was not on my happiness and my needs but rather on the happiness of my dearly beloved?
I was definitely naive enough to think that marriage would be a safe harbor from the fall. I never imagined that Blue eyes would ever do or say anything to hurt me. And true to my selfish nature it never even crossed my mind to think that I would be the one to inflict pain. Just didn't.
"Forget about the myth of having married "the right person". The truth is; the one you're married to now IS the right person. Period." Voddie Baucham
It's detrimental to wonder if you married "the right person." The truth is every single marriage has it's struggles and trials. No matter who you had married, sooner or later, you'd have realized that they were imperfect and selfish. Just like you. It's fallen human nature and without a close walk with the Lord, we will live like selfish, fallen people most of the time.
"To be able to look forward to a lifelong, thriving marriage, you must have a clear understanding of the gospel. Without it, you can not see God, yourself, or your marriage for what they truly are. The gospel is the foundation of a thriving marriage." Dave Harvey
"Differences are God's way of sanding off our rough edges." Bryan Carter
Wow! That's really something to think about. What if God uses the differences between Blue eyes and me to sand off our rough edges? To refine us. To make us more like Him. Then can we thank God for those differences and embrace then? Trusting that He is doing something beautiful with our lives. Even when it hurts. Even when it's very difficult. O God! Give us an eternal perspective.
As I look back over the last seventeen years, I see seasons of happiness and sorrow. I see times of growth and times when we were tired and busy with our babies and we didn't much left to give to each other. But through it all, I see the safety net of our covenant promise securely around us. As we've knelt together in prayer before the Lord, sometimes with tears of sorrow, sometimes with tears of joy, I see how God has given us grace upon grace. He has strengthened us and blessed us so that all these years later, we can still say, "I love you. I am committed to you and I will be here with you til death do us part."
"We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet.....What does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things...all of it, all the time, every day. You're saying, 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness.' " Beverly Clark
Who could know what the rest of our lives will bring? Undoubtedly there will be more seasons of joy and sorrow. But I know and see in faith that our covenant promise will always be there. It will not waver because it is made of a three- fold cord and Christ is the cornerstone of our marriage.
We were blessed beyond measure to be able to be so close to my grandparents in the final years of their lives. I count that time as one of the most precious gifts that God has given me. I was able to see in a tangible way, the faithfulness and love of God towards His children come full circle. I was able to see the mature fruition of a godly marriage and at times five generations together in my grandparents home, bound together in the love of Christ. Singing songs of praise and prayer together, praying, seeking to bless our old, little grandpa and grandma. My grandpa left this earth in January, and my sweet little grandma followed after, just three months later in March. I know what I am striving for. A life could not end more beautifully than that.
I want to grow old with Blue eyes, learning to love him more. If the world stands, I want to leave a legacy of love for my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to follow.
"Marriage is more than your love for each other. It has a higher dignity and power, for it is God's holy institution through which God wishes to preserve humanity until the end of time. In your love you see only each other in the world; in marriage you are a link in the chain of generations that God, for the sake of His glory, allows to rise and fade away, and calls into His kingdom." Dietrich Bonhoeffer
To celebrate our anniversary we were able to get away for the night and attend a Family Life Today marriage workshop, The Art of Marriage; Getting to the Heart of God's Design. It was so inspiring! We were so blessed by all of it. That's where all these quotes came from and a lot of the things I've been thinking about stemmed from the speakers there. I feel such an urgency to remind other believers not to take your marriage for granted. Too many marriages are falling apart. Don't just assume that because you're both Christians, you don't need to worry about a thing. Tearing a marriage apart creates a foothold for Satan, not just for the couple, but for generations to come. It weakens the foundations of generations! Let's not let that happen! I think it's important to invest the time and energy into learning from older couples and God's word how to create a strong, fulfilling marriage. It's not something that comes naturally to most people. http://theartofmarriage.com/
"Blessed is everyone that feareth the Lord; that walketh in His ways.
For thou shalt eat the labors of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.
Thy wife shall be a fruitful vine by the sides of thy house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.
Behold, thus shall the man be blessed that fears the Lord.
The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shall see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.
Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children, and peace upon Israel."