The road to marriage

“To be loved in a sacrificial, patient, humble way is a very powerful incentive to become loveable. That’s the way we’re related to by Jesus, is it not? He comes to these ugly, dirty, sinful people like us and he says, ‘I’ll die for you.’ He dies for us and he rises and by faith alone He embraces us, still dirty, into his family and now that being loved gives us incentive to become more loveable, more like Him. And that’s our goal. We don’t want marriages that are merely endurance. We want to so endure, so forgive, so forbear, so seek in appropriate ways to confront and deal with each other’s flaws that there is over time a growing up into Christ for both of us so that at 10 and 20 and 30 and 40 years of marriage there is a greater conformity to Jesus so that the dance of headship and submission flows with more smoothness and beauty than it ever has, permeated by a lot of delight.” –John Piper, “Marriage: Pursuing Conformity to Christ in the Covenant”

I’ve been reading and hearing that today, July 7th, is the most popular day of the year to get married. Celebrities are getting hitched today in the name of good luck and others are doing it just so it will look cool on the invitation or to help them remember their anniversary in the years to come. At my church, there are numerous couples exchanging vows today, including my good friend Andrew Pack, and his lovely bride, Tonya.

Obviously both of us have marriage on the mind, too. Our road to and through engagement has been a challenging and joyful one. It is certainly true that your other half is like a mirror put up to your face to show you your own depravity, as well as your dignity. I know we can both say that in our learning, we are glad that God made marriage as it is, that ultimately it is not about a man or a woman, but about God and His people. That proves that there is hope for us and that God’s grace is plentiful.

God has given us so much help in our relationship. I see this especially in the people He has put around us. Pastor Bent Meyer, who has become like a second dad to me, will officiate our wedding. I have sat on his couch for hours, more recently with Jason, talking about our sins, our stories, what it means to be known, to repent, to love and be loved.

Chad and Keisha Brown have been a mentor couple to us. From the get go, Chad stepped in and sought my protection and care when Jason first started to pursue me. Since then he has willingly provided his gift of wisdom and discernment in many conversations. Keisha, who has become a very dear friend in the last year has loved me well and struggled alongside me, as we see that in many ways our stories are similar. It has been a joy to be in fellowship with her as we see God redeem so much in our lives.

And then there’s Sally. How could I ever, ever forget her? No one knows me better than she does. I will miss her and living in our 3rd Ave house soooo much. We have had so many good times together gardening, sharing stories, cooking together, talking about life and Jesus. Lots of tears and laughter. She has loved me even when it has been really, really hard. She has fought for Jason and I’s relationship alongside us. I can’t ask God enough to bless her greatly for the love she has shown me.

Alyssa Smith, who just moved in with Sally and I for a few months is also a great friend. She has the gift of prayer in a way that I have never seen before. She told me last fall that God had given her this strong desire to pray for my future husband and that she had been doing so for quite a while. That took me a bit by surprise and all I could say was, “Ummm, thanks.” Little did I know that not only would God give her that desire, but He would use her to introduce me to my husband a few months later! Alyssa, we are indebted to you.

Participating in the Biblical Marriage class at Mars Hill has followed in the theme of challenging and joyful, more so than we had anticipated. It also brings more wise and loving people in Pastor Tim Reber and his wife, Mary. As we go through the class we will be meeting with them to talk through our pasts, our fears, our current struggles, and ultimately, how we can grab hold of Jesus’ love more fully so that so that we can better love another. Although they just met us, they have been very willing to help us and pray for us and for that we are very grateful. We look forward to seeing how that relationship will grow and be used by God to help us know Jesus more.

I realize as I finish this post that I got off on a necessary tangent not speaking specifically about the quote from John Piper that hit me like a rock (or in other words, a severe mercy) this morning. What I can say is that this idea of being more loveable as we are loved is true for us. I see the power of the gospel to change hearts in this way. I see myself becoming more lovely as Jason loves me. I see him becoming a more courageous and humble leader, going to battle for the gospel. These people God has put in our lives have helped and will patiently and joyfully continue to help us be who we are as image bearers of God. We will become more loveable.

God keeps His promises, for He is righteous (Nehemiah 9:8b). And He has promised in all this that the result of conformity to Christ in marriage, by His grace, is delight, reward, deep satisfaction, being fully known. We will just plain know Him more.

Man, that’s worth it to us.

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