For Scott and Lida, married May 16, 2010.
Scott, I have to say my favorite part of this process has been getting to know Lida. I mean, you are a nice person. But she is a shining treasure. Her face is radiant, and reflects the joy she has found in you. It’s easy to see that she is learning to trust you, resting in the promises you make to her and the security you provide for her.
This is as it should be. The Scripture tells us that this is your job—to bring out her inner beauty, as Christ himself sanctifies the church that he might present it to himself in splendor, holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:25-27).
This is the work of a married man. And it is not always easy work.
It is also our test. Are our wives less fearful and more radiant because of the way we love them? I’ve seen this already begin to happen in Lida. But it is a life long process, a daily discipline, grounded in your sacrificial love, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.
I must warn you that sacrificial love is, well, sacrificial. It is against your nature to put others first because it is against the nature of man. You have lived a privileged life with an endless series of gadgets and opportunities. You are pretty much used to having what you want when you want it. But today God calls you to set her interests above your own.
This is how you preserve the joy you see in her eyes today, by nourishing her and cherishing her as the Scripture requires you to do. A woman who is loved in this way will respond to you with respect, even reverence. She will follow you, help you, love you.
You do your part and it will be a lot easier for her to do hers.
But Lida, you must do your part regardless of how well he does his. First Peter says “For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her child, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening (1 Peter 3:5-6).”
The Apostle Paul, who was not even married, could see how loving each other, becoming one flesh, serving and sacrificing for each other, points us to larger, eternal truths. He says: “This mystery is profound, and I am saying it refers to Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:32).” The marriage you commit to today displays God’s covenant keeping love for his people. Your friends and family should see His faithfulness in your faithfulness to each other, if only as a shadow.
Married love like this, C.S. Lewis said, “is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God.”
Lewis wasn’t married when he said that either. Be aware that people are watching you. Neighbors and strangers are watching you. Your children will be watching you. The apostles are watching you. Even the angels are watching you. Our marriages are part of our testimony to a watching world that our love not only comforts us but transforms us.
As Lewis said, this transformation is rooted in a unity maintained by the will, Lewis says. You must keep the promises you made today even when you don’t feel like it. You get up each morning, determined to do so. It is a conscious, deliberate choice we make hundreds of times each day. Being in love is not the point of you marriage. Choosing to love each other is.
This love is strengthened by habit. Do not always seek novelty. The routines of our lives together are not only comforting but enabling. Walking together, drinking coffee, singing in the car. You have habits of your own but now you need shared habits, and you must cling to them. You will find the reassurance of the ordinary a healthy antidote to the uncertainty of the unknown. It creates safe spaces for managing conflict and finding rest.
And then Lewis says our unity is reinforced by grace. We give and receive grace from each other, of course. We forgive and forbear, as the Scripture says. But this grace is one which both partners ask and receive from God.
Pray now and pray always for such grace.
And now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that a which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.