Marriage Made in Heaven
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:31-32Would we presume this kind of merging would be painless?
If we ponder it too much, we may never marry! Love is a wonderful thing, isn't it - the God-ordained attraction of the opposite sex? It almost seems unfair. Before you know it initial attraction becomes so strong you feel moved to greater commitment to this other person. In the beginning you may even willingly surrender your own desires, even if temporarily, to be with this person. You see and experience attributes and characteristics in them that are appealing and you want to be around them more and more. Then you say "I do" and a new form of sanctification begins. In every marriage there is struggle and pain. Some end in divorce, some end in violent destruction, some end but are staying together anyway, some stay together "for the kids", and some are able to move through the difficulties and grow.
Love is powerful. It's more powerful than anything (1 Corinthians 13). Love never fails. But for many it seems that love has failed. Do you realize God had a broken marriage too? Do you realize He is married to us, that we're the Bride of Christ? Which of us broke their vows? And who reconciled the marriage?
God is love. He is the embodiment of love and He is holy and perfect. God's love for us, His bride, is what draws us to Him. His love is reckless, even foolish some would say. And it's this reckless, makes-no-sense love that gives it meaning and power. How reckless and beyond our human comprehension is it that God sent his son Jesus to be a sacrifice for us? Think about the movies, books, plays, art, music, etc. that move your heart. Nearly always there is some redemptive value that pulls at you, that gets you in the heart. Real love is courageous. The energy in love isn't spent on self - getting its way, or persuading others to give it what it wants. Love abandons self. Love is nearly always the opposite of everything we learn in the world's systems. See Matthew 5.
You have God's heart - Jesus lives uniquely in you and the most real and eternal thing about you is Jesus and His attributes and characteristics. Do you realize you are His disciple - His hands, His feet, His mouth, and His heart in this world? This means in your marriage as well - which is meant to be a reflection of God's love.
God's heart is about sacrificial love. Look at the cross! Jesus is our model. Hear me now and believe me later....you can't do this disciple thing, much less the marriage thing, no matter how many books you read, or DVD's you watch, or seminars you attend. If this were so, we must conclude that Jesus blew it as a teacher. He was (is) perfect and His 12 personally taught disciples never "figured it out" after three years of intensive training. They fell all over themselves in every way all the way to Jesus' crucifixion and beyond, until.....
Their hearts responded to Jesus' love for them. Once their hearts "got it" they moved powerfully and, you know by scripture, sacrificially in love and in supernatural ways. You see all throughout the gospels these men and women were captivated and animated and motivated by Jesus' heart and their energy was always directed outward. It wasn't about them any longer! This was a huge (supernatural) change from before.
We are Jesus' disciples brothers and sisters. Our relationships, including marriage, are not primarily about us and what we are supposed to get from one another. This is a worldly standard and we're bankrupting our hearts, polluting our joy and, sadly, showing a dishonest reflection of God's heart and character. There are hundreds of books and seminars on improving your marriage, but improving your marriage isn't the point. It would be better for us and our impact for a hurting world if we were more grieved about how we're hurting God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit by buying into these subtle and destructive lies from our enemy.
Don't misunderstand what I'm saying. It's beautiful and wonderful when spouses treat each other romantically and respectfully and with dignity and honor. It's how God romances us. Every good and perfect gift is from above. What I'm saying is that true love doesn't begin with us and doesn't end with us. I'm saying "us", but the truth is in marriage the two have become "one" (a mystery), so the focus is not foremost about his or her needs being met by the other. God's design is to have our needs met by Him, individually and in the oneness of marriage, and this love overflows into the lives of others.
This is, in part, the mystery of marriage. All the human and physical needs/desires of men and women are to be met, but not from each other so much as from Jesus IN the other. It's an overflow of God's love through the man and woman but they are still "one". The direction of love is outward, flowing from Jesus within the marriage (one), and out to others toward a much larger objective than us (him or her). Much of what we read and listen to, as well-intentioned as it is, is focused on "me" and how I can (and should) be getting what I want (need) because it's God's design for marriage and His will. It's inward focused. It's subtle, but it's there - and it's not reflective of God's nature and the life that Jesus' models for us. Think “disciple”.
Are you willing to surrender your life more fully to God? Do you want your life to reflect more of Jesus? Simply ask Him. Be willing to confess where you're buying into the world's standards and receive forgiveness. Forgive others, including your spouse, from the heart. You don't need a new heart brother or sister. God gave you a new heart when you asked Jesus into your life. But you can ask Him to lead you into deeper levels of maturity (sanctification) than where you are now.
If you're willing to go with Him, there is supernatural joy and abundant life in these deeper waters. You can't get there on your own and you can't navigate them on your own. You'll have to lose your life to save it. You'll discover this is what you were made for and you'll see, maybe even laugh at, some of the ways you were living before. If, in God's grace, your spouse desires to go into the deeper waters as well, you'll experience a profound mystery. If they don't, God will give you what you need in increasing measure to continue navigating those deep waters - for you and for the sake of your spouse. He loves them as much as He loves you. This is our call as Christians. Whether it's in marriage or any other relationships, our calling is to love as Christ loves us. Can you even imagine what could happen in our hurting world if Christians in marriage were living and moving in deeper levels of maturity and in the reality that our lives are not our own?
If you desire to go into these deeper waters, ask God. Be patient. Keep asking. Wait. Ask again. You are asking something that is in His will. It thrills His heart. Prepare to receive from Him - read, pray for a deeper knowledge of His love for you, listen to music - but not to make something happen or to figure out "the formula". The purpose is a deeper a relationship with Christ and to move beyond yourself. Just water, relax and wait. If you're not ready, ask Him for the desire to go there. He gives us the desire as well as the courage to lose our lives to Him.