“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” – Proverbs 18:22
A ring doesn’t mean anything if you can’t haul the weight… Love is a loyalty sworn, not a burning, not a feeling, or a moment. I didn’t just make a promise to Kat on our wedding day. I made a covenant with our God to love and serve Kathryn until one of us dies, regardless of my feelings or her actions. In this promise, this oath, this covenant, this marriage, I’m not going anywhere. I am privileged and blessed to never stop pursuing my wife until my lungs are completely void of air.
Understanding the wickedness and selfishness of my heart; understanding Biblically that marriage is for my sanctification, not simply for my sexual pleasure, not to have better financial stability, not to have somebody to help clean the house, not to have someone to bring me water and meds when I’m sick, not just to have someone to give me children and then help raise them… no, God has displayed His love for me in that He gave me a wife to grow me more into the fullness of Him. This involves the further death of me and my selfishness. God has given me a wife to show me the areas in my life where I am tremendously selfish, self-centered, and still desirous of my own petty way. And much to my frustration, but eventual joy, Kat helps me see more how stupid I am on a daily basis.
This is God’s grace displayed in my life. The image of marriage in the Scriptures is this image of God, Christ, His bride, the bride’s rebellion, Christ’s love, His pursuit, His grace… In this earthly marriage, God has said, “I love you so much, that I’m gonna show you what it’s like to actually pursue you. So have fun, you’re gonna need Me.”
My marriage to Kathryn is ultimately about the two of us acknowledging, understanding, growing in, displaying, and celebrating the love that Christ has displayed for His bride. In Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, he writes in chapter five about the truth that marriage is not ultimately about sex or social stability or personal fulfillment; rather marriage was created to be a human reflection of the ultimate love relationship with the Lord. It points to the true marriage that our souls need and the true family our hearts want.
For me personally, I never really even caught a good glimpse of the fuller meaning of this truth (of what it means for us, the church, being referred to as the bride of Christ) before mine and Kat’s wedding day. I mean, I had heard it taught on, read about it, thought about it, but the deep truth of Christ’s love for His bride had not yet really penetrated my heart or amazed my intellect. When those doors opened, and my bride, Kathryn, walked into the wedding chapel room looking beyond incredibly amazing, yeah, I’m not ashamed to admit it… I teared up as it all began to hit me.
We, the church, are not called Christ’s wife, but His bride… Think about that for a moment… The groom does not look upon his bride on their wedding day and think about her imperfections, but rather he is intensely focused on her precious qualities and beautiful attributes. On the wedding day, the groom is overwhelmed with a deep sense of gratitude, and devotion. Because this bride, standing adorned before her groom: she is his. He sees only her, and no one can deter his gaze. She alone catches his eye and she alone can hold his attention.
I will never forget how Kathryn looked that day, and how she was completely dressed up in splendor, having been presented to me as a beautiful, radiant, spotless bride. That is how Christ sees us, His chosen loved ones whom He died for, and He calls us His bride. His pursuit of us is fierce and unwavering, His affection for us is strong and deep, His love for us is abiding and unending. Our sincerest hope is that the Gospel is preached through our marriage, as God has chosen the story of our lives to be a shadow of His much greater narrative.
When I see and understand my marriage this way, and not as some kind of selfish contractual agreement with another person who exists only to serve me, make my life better, easier, and more enjoyable for myself, then it frees me up to not lay in bed at night and pout because I’m not getting what I want or not getting my way. Rather I better understand what is actually happening; I’m being sanctified, I’m being grown more into the fullness of Christ, that God is loving me in these circumstances (as difficult as they may be right now) in order that I may know Him and rely on His sufficient grace all the more. So I need to be more gracious, patient, humble, slow to anger, gentle, abounding in love and encouragement, and never stop pursuing my wife in Christ-like love.
Many people get from books, movies, television, etc. this idea that if you have married the right person (or if you’re just “with” the right person) you may expect to go on “being in love” forever, and it should come naturally and effortlessly. As a result, when they find they are not, they think this proves they have made a mistake, or the other person fooled them, and they are entitled to a change – not realizing that, when they have changed, the glamour of any new relationship will eventually go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one.
Because love and marriage are much more than the fleeting feelings of a new infatuation. Our wedding, our marriage, our family, our love, our lives are not meant to simply terminate on momentary happiness here in this lifetime on this earth, but to find and experience eternal joy as we celebrate our great God and King: Jesus. And when we arrive at eternity’s shore, where death is just a memory and tears are no more, we’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring, Christ’s bride will come together and we’ll sing, You’re beautiful!