the awesome mystery of marriage

I was recently asked to contribute to a discussion for a soon-to-be-married woman on the topic of favorite, most loved, most used marriage advice. I loved reading (this was an email discussion) all of the replies from women much more seasoned in marriage and life than I am, from women who have walked with the Lord longer than I have. And as I truly did want to reply, I wanted to reply carefully and considerately. I wanted to consider the Lord, all that He is, to me, in me, to my marriage, in my marriage – to me as a WIFE, as the homemaker, as the mommy – in my marriage. I wanted to consider my husband and what his thoughts would be – and I wanted to consider where precious love getting married is. I wanted to remember where my thoughts were focused and all of the desires, excitements that were treasured up in my heart leading into the days of my first days of marriage. So with all of those things considered before the Lord for a few days, I want now carefully to articulate my addition to this great, edifying discussion. 

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We know as believers, as sweet children of the Lord, that the Greatest Command is to love the Lord with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. And we know the second command is like the first, to love our neighbor as ourselves. Well, sweet wife-to-be, your closest neighbor is most certainly your husband. You will share your LIFE with him. Your  yucky days and your happiest days; your bed, your food, your space, and even by accident on occasion, your toothbrush. He is your neighbor, and you are to love him as you love yourself. Don’t you love it when someone pays attention long enough to give you or say to you or bless you with just the right thing at the right moment? That it what your days can be filled with as you seek to love your husband as yourself. Maybe breakfast is his thing, so you learn to cook a mean omelet. Does he love a certain sport? Learn to love it with him. This is about loving YOUR husband, so don’t worry about how girlfriend loves hers; think about and put into play all that you know about your husband so that you can love him as you love yourself. There’s great freedom, grace, and a life time and learning and loving that awaits in this endeavor and pursuit to love your husband as you love yourself.

We also know as believers, that marriage is a beautiful, awesome, wonderful, terrifying picture of the mystery of Christ and the church. And we, the wife, get to be the church, holy and pure, loyal and true (in the church’s best days) to our respective husbands. I will cut right to the chase in my thoughts. The bride, the wife, is called to submit. Paul calls women here because Christ submitted to the Father and gained great glory for Himself, because the Church is to submit to Christ, bringing great reward to itself, and we are to be like Christ as we submit to our husbands like He submitted to the Father, and we are to be like the Church in this great mystery of marriage as She submits to Christ in the reality of realities that the world exists. So here we are, in grace and freedom and love and until death do us part, to submit to our husbands. Paul – remember who he is – and under whose authority he writes – calls you NOT to passive subservience, but calls  you TO active submission. Sarah, we know from 1 Peter 3, calls Abraham, her husband, lord. As you learn to call Christ our Savior Lord, call your husband lord in the right order. And live your life as such. Where Christ is not Lord, flee. Where your husband is not lord, leave. You are His. You are your husband’s.

Heart, mind, soul, and strength. And that leads me to another part of the wonderful mystery of marriage.

Sex. I know this certainly was one of the beautiful parts of marriage on the top of my mind days before marrying my precious husband. Scripture tells us that our bodies as our husband’s wife is to be a ministry of love to him. Through the way you keep your body, and through the way in which we give our bodies to our respective husbands. Your body is his alone. Your body is the temple of the living God. See the correlation throughout this great wonder of marriage? And you might have missed all of it if you stay stuck in your own mind’s thoughts on marriage. But when we set our minds on Scripture, on things above, and we let our eyes adjust to the glories of the Gospel, and when we let our hearts’ affection be  stirred by the Lover of our Souls, we realize, goodness gracious, Yes, Lord, I give you my all. And yes, precious husband, who is Christ to me, I give you gladly and fully and alone my body. 

Another thing that occurred to me throughout my marriage, and I feel like hints of this truth are presented in many of the other women’s so-helpful advice, is the truth that marriage is a shadow, a picture, of the real thing to come, of the One we will be able to touch with our hands and behold with our eyes on the other side of heaven. So, we are husband and wife here. But we are brother and sister in Christ forever.  This is why the Lord says be equally yoked. And this is the relationship to cherish so dearly. Your husband is your brother, your bestest friend. Treasure him in the day ins and day outs, for those are the times you have. And cultivate that relationship, he as your brother, and you as his sister, because when the time comes that both of you enter to enjoy eternity, you will only then truly begin to get to know each other. And how sweet it will be that you have been practicing for your entire marriage until that Day comes. 

I could list practical ways that my husband and I have implemented these great truths, these heavy realities, but what’s SO wonderful about what you are to enter – for girlfriend, the wedding is just the beginning, is that you are going to write your own story, draw your own masterpiece, bring your special personality and life and love before the Lord for his glory. And goodness knows, by the grace of the Lord that knows no bounds, it will be to the praise and honor and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in Him all things are created and are held together. Praise God from whom all blessings flow – and praise God for your precious marriage. 

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