You know the ol’ adage, the more you grow, the less you know?
If so, understand that’s where I’m at as I write this.
Not to suggest being meekly subdued is a bad thing. After all, sharing conviction as you respond to it can be a freeing process.
However, as a humbled husband fresh into Francis and Lisa Chan’s book, You and Me Forever…I can’t help but think whatever I thought about marriage a few weeks ago is no longer what I can think about it moving forward.
Accordingly, as certitudes ignite like fireworks, I want to take a few posts to challenge our view of marriage in light of eternity. ‘Cause while marriage is certainly the apex of human love as purposed in God’s plan, it’s only kinda, sorta okay when we dare to view it against the backdrop of what we will experience in heaven.
Quick disclaimer: For all you singles out there, while this post may not seem to apply to you, consider the foundation this series will offer. True, you may not want to expose your heart discovering what you think you can’t have right now; however, if you perceive this content as an opportunity to mature your dream of holy matrimony, I truly believe you will come out better for it.
That said, let’s dig in.
I love my wife.
In case you needed a ‘duh’ moment to compliment your cup of coffee…there you go.
But seriously, I love love. Not only does it speak to the existence of a supreme being, but it testifies to the mastermind of a relational being.
Unfortunately, in this life, it’s easy to lose sight of what love is and where it comes from. I know for me there have been times I’ve landed in hot water thinking love could be assumed in the name of ‘trust’ or purchased with a ‘happy wife, happy life‘ mentality.
But as experience and humility have taught me, these approaches are volatile, if not, futile. For starters, they tempt you to ‘sherlock’ your way out of relational voids, seeking deeper connection through egotistic epiphanies. Additionally, and more profoundly, they invert the big picture of what marriage is. Specifically, marriage is not the ‘great life’ or ‘American dream’ applied to your spouse. Rather it is an amazing
race journey prepping us to stand before our Creator and into eternal intimacy with Him.
I love how Chan captures this…
“Each of us plays a tiny but significant role. Our marriages also play a significant role in His great plan. We are called to paint such an attractive picture of marriage that it causes people to long for the coming marriage with Jesus. God calls us to display the love and humility of Christ through our marriages…to tell people about God’s story…who Jesus is and what He has done.” (p. 55).
Essentially, your marriage (or future marriage) is sanctified outreach, a unique blend of discipleship and evangelism pointing people in the direction of God’s burning love for them. Thus, if we think marriage is nothing more than feeling complete within a spousal relationship, then we’re missing the ‘big picture’ as to what God has intended for it.
Of course, this doesn’t mean we forsake loving our spouse with all we have to offer. Surely most reading this understand love is a tangible, mobile, proactive entity rising far above our deepest desires to be content…to be known. Still, the reality remains: the reason why many marriages struggle is due to one or both partners feeling dissatisfied and/or insecure in their identity as loved and known by God. As a result, their desperation for better relationship becomes hinged on individual strength as opposed to joint partnership.
As Chan puts it, our marriage problems aren’t marriage problems; they are God problems (p. 20). We may think we have a beef with our spouse, but that beef had to originate somewhere. And while epicenters may vary, often times the source region is the discord between expectation and divine trust.
I remember early on in my marriage, there were several moments when I projected frustration onto Lyssah blaming her for an unmet expectation when, in fact, the root of my resentment was aimed at God for not having met it sooner. In hindsight, not only did these episodes preserve misplaced doubt, but drove a wedge into our communication and ultimately our affection.
Thankfully, as the years have gone by, maturity and awareness have increased to the point I can catch these moments and take the thoughts behind them captive fairly quickly. But as one may tell, allowing these notions to accumulate unaccounted for can lead to severe relational strain, damage, even destruction.
At some point, we must embrace the beauty of trusting God and entrusting ourselves to Him…in becoming so overwhelmed by Christ’s care for us, we can’t help but pour out onto our spouses in an extravagant way. For those married looking to lead people to Christ, love and honor the most important relationship you’ve been given. I promise you the ripple effect will bless way more than you think.
Bottom line: We may be the bride of Christ, but marriage grooms us for glory. Sure, we may be intimidated by the thought of staring at God mesmerized in His presence, but the experiences found in marriage can help get us there! And yes, while marriage is not required to advance the Kingdom, for many of us, it is necessary to understanding sanctification, sacrifice, and the immensity of God’s wholehearted devotion.
As to how this looks, stay tuned for sequel posts where we’ll dive into what a biblical blueprint for marriage looks like. Until then, rest in confidence knowing while marriage isn’t that great in light of eternity, it is perfect as an established institution and reflection of divine love drawing us and those around us closer to Jesus.
How sweet it is to love our beloved as we’re loved by our Beloved.