Mere mortals

When we got home after church and date night tonight, Brian and I had an awkward conversation.

There was something I really needed to tell him and I wasn’t sure when to do it. Realizing there would never be a perfect opportunity to have this conversation, I walked down the hall and blurted it out.

“B, I’m an organ donor. And when I say organ donor, I mean organs, tissue, eyes– anything that can be used. This is just a body and when I’m done with it, someone else should use it.”

My husband locked eyes with me. The corners of his mouth curled up and his face spread into a smile. He walked up and wrapped his arms around me. “I love you,” he said.

I don’t think I needed to tell Brian that for him to know it. I think that if I was in a terrible accident and wasn’t going to make it, that Brian would know how I felt. I just wanted to say it to make sure. I wanted to make sure that in that moment with stress and anxiety and emotions and heartache, that my wishes were clear. This is just a body. I’m not going to need it where I’m going.

I don’t want to die before Brian. I’m crazy in love with this man. I don’t want his heart to hurt like that. And I don’t want him to go before me, either. I don’t want to live a day without him. He’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me beside God making me his own. In the dream-world in my head, we’ll die at the same time wrapped in each others’ arms like in ‘The Notebook’ so we’ll never have to live a day apart. I realize there’s nothing realistic about that at all… hence the blurting in the hallway.

In pre-marital counseling through Austin Stone, we read John Piper’s This Momentary Marriage. I had a hard time with concepts like not being married to Brian for eternity and the marriage as a picture of Christ and the church. But Piper explains things well, and eventually, I understood. 

“So it is with marriage. It is a momentary gift. It may last a lifetime, or it may be snatched away on the honeymoon. Either way, it is short. It may have many bright days, or it may be covered with clouds. If we make secondary things primary, we will be embittered at the sorrows we must face. But if we set our face to make of marriage mainly what God designed it to be, no sorrows and no calamities can stand in our way. Every one of them will be, not an obstacle to success, but a way to succeed. The beauty of the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his church shines brightest when nothing but Christ can sustain it.

Very soon the shadow will give way to Reality. The partial will pass into the Perfect. The foretaste will lead to the Banquet. The troubled path will end in Paradise. A hundred candle-lit evenings will come to their consummation in the marriage supper of the Lamb. And this momentary marriage will be swallowed up by Life. Christ will be all and in all. And the purpose of marriage will be complete.

To that end may God give us eyes to see what matters most in this life. May the Holy Spirit, whom he sends, make his crucified and risen Son the supreme Treasure of our lives. And may the Treasure so satisfy our souls that the root of every marriage-destroying impulse is severed. And may the marriage-watching world be captivated by the covenant-keeping love of Christ.”

We won’t live forever. And more than likely, one of us will have to live on this earth for some time without the other. And if I spend all my time clinging to Brian, when he’s gone, I’m left with nothing. But if our marriage is focused on Christ, then would I lose the love of my life, but not my reason for living.

 

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A wonderful picture of marriage

This is the third part of our series about our experience in pre-marital counseling. We’ve learned that you need to plan for the marriage at least as much as you plan for the wedding, and in this series we will explore what that means. 

Series: Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

During our pre-martial counseling Lindsey and I were assigned to read portions of John Piper’s This Momentary Marriage. This was an unbelievably helpful assignment that helped prepare us for marriage and its true purpose. As we read through those chapters we had an ongoing conversation about the truth of his observations and writing. It impacted us deeply and still does.

Every married or engaged person needs to read this book. It explores the depth and meaning of marriage, the purpose God set forth for marriage, and an approach to a gospel-centered marriage. I can honestly say that we cannot possibly recommend it enough.

The video below was released today by Piper’s ministry, and it is a great encapsulation of what we saw in that book. It’s only a few minutes, but it is challenging and full of truth. It shows a sweet couple in a tough position who draw their strength from the purpose of marriage and the Creator of it. I encourage you to take the time to watch it, and to buy and read the book.

What Am I Devoted To?

“Husbands and wives, recognize that in marriage you have become one flesh. If you live for your private pleasure at the expense of your spouse, you are living against yourself and destroying your joy. But if you devote yourself with all your heart to the holy joy of your spouse, you will also be living for your joy and making a marriage after the image of Christ and His church.”

John Piper

John Piper is one of my go-to thinkers and authors. I can count on him to frame an issue or pose a question in a way that hits me just right. That is just what happened with this quote.

Am I devoted to the holy joy of my wife? Sadly, most of the time I am not. So, what am I devoted to? What is keeping me from living this way?

Honestly, it’s the same thing that corrupts the rest of my life. It is my worship of comfort. I have taken comfort and short-term happiness and placed it on an altar. I love it. I worship it. It is my idol. It is my golden calf.

There are certainly times that I am devoted to my wife’s joy, to her growth and fulfillment in Christ. It is one of the reasons our relationship is in the state that it is in. We both understand this truth, and we try to live it out. But in truth that is all we can do. Try. Our humanity will always keep up from perfection.

True love, love as the Bible and Jesus defined it, is sacrificial. It is the kind of love that drives you to lay down your life for someone else. If I can’t lay down my comfort now, how could I ever lay down my life? On my own, I cannot.  Jesus was the author of true love, he laid down his life for our salvation and holy joy. He did this because he was the only one who could do so in full.

So, what are we to do? If our humanity will cause us to stumble but we are called to live out this kind of love, how can it work? I’ve not had enough experience in marriage to give a list of 7 practical tips to fix it all, but I can say this. First, I need to pray that God changes my heart. That he changes the way I see my own comfort and the way I see serving my wife. Second, I need to obey his commands. I need to love her as he loves me. I need to serve her, protect her and support her. Only he can change my heart, but I still have to make the decisions, small and large, to obey him every day.