I was at a wedding last weekend for a friend. I was there from day one, and watching the ceremony reminded me of the striking weightiness of marriage. To unite with another soul for the rest of your life, covenanting together to take up the mantle of displaying Christ’s relationship with the Church to the entire watching world, committing to forsake all others…the joy of it is consuming. The heaviness is stifling, a beautiful unity of seriousness and absolute happiness as one considers the institution and how everything changes in a man or woman’s life upon entering that holy union.
Do I fully know what this signifies? Am I ready for this? Well, not really – there is always a sense of unknown as two people grasp hands and jump off the cliff of life into their intertwined future walking along the path as one flesh, trusting God for the next steps and provision for each season, continually fighting selfishness and pursuing Christ together, and always learning and serving the stranger staring back at them.
It’s a lot. It’s a high calling. It sounds like the greatest joy and the greatest challenge all at the same time. It’s exciting and life-changing. It’s a charged, a vow of responsibility that lasts your whole life as you become soul linked to another image-bearer.
No, sir, I am unable to do this.
But I know someone who probably can. He’s the only reason I’m even here, at this point, when the thought of marrying five years ago sent me into my dorm room shaking and considering if I could just be single and avoid the scariness of it all and still have a good life honoring God.
The same God who raised Christ from the dead dwells in me as the Holy Spirit – it is the Spirit who brings the wisdom, the power to obey God’s Word, and the strength to keep serving those around me. It is the Holy Spirit who will help me serve my future husband and love him as Christ does.
It’s scary thinking about uniting your life to another forever, but at the same time I’m so excited to join lives with the man I love who I know God will use more than anyone else in my life to help me become more like Him, sanctifying me and purifying me of my selfishness, the sinfulness that lurks around my heart trying to escape magnification. God will use this man to help me be more like Jesus. He’s also my best friend, so that’s cool.
Marriage is a mixed bag, from what they tell me, and I believe that’s true. If you meet someone who doesn’t realize that, then I think they need to wake up a little bit more. I wish it could be all happy romanticism and snuggles, but even now I’ve seen how much work it is to pursue growth, to walk through difficult things, to love the other as Christ does – which means pruning, and discomfort, and sacrifice, and dirt, and mess, and washing the metaphorical feet of your beloved even when you don’t like them very much in the moment.
And yet those who have gone before me point to the promise – marriage allows you to deeply know Jesus, to be transformed into His image, and have opportunity upon opportunity to follow Him through sacrifice and denial of self.
For what is the Christian’s life goal? As Paul puts it so aptly, “I want to know Christ” (Phil 3:10).
From reading God’s Word, I believe every day is an opportunity to know Christ more: to experience His goodness and mercy; to delight in Him by delighting in the gifts He gives us; to seek Him in His Word; and to choose to trust Him when trials come.
I don’t really do a good job at that. I need to, but I fail and fail again. The love of God is a mystery, that He would choose to save and love and remain faithful to someone like me who messes up all the time. His love is divine and perfect, and because He is perfectly loving, this is what He does.
I think marriage is supposed to be like that: a divine gift bestowed on some of us who need this particular kind of sanctification in our loves, who will glorify God the most by being united to another sinner and commanded to love them as Christ does. Marriage is one of the biggest tools in the Father’s toolbox to form us into the image of His Son; He chooses to use it for some of us, since this will glorify Him the most. In His wisdom, some folks have other paths, while a lot of us are led to marriage.
I want to know Christ. I want to look back on my life and say that I lived it in active pursuit and yearning for God, conforming to Him and walking in obedience by His power. I’m excited and nervous for how He will use marriage in this way, and I need more faith all the time. It is weighty, but it will be a deep source of joy and comfort. It takes a lifetime of work, self-denial, and sacrifice, but it will bring deeper knowledge of God than ever before and help me be more like Him and less like my sinful flesh.
I’m eager. I need to continue to prepare my heart. And He is holding me all the time, just as He is holding the world and moving my lungs and keeping my fiance and moving the clouds and bringing people to Himself to know Him and experience the happiness of salvation.
What a treasure it is to walk daily with our Father.