I sat during the choir’s intermission, watching the orphan statistics flash across the screen at the front of the auditorium. I knew about the AIDS crisis. I had met families with adopted children. I had listened to stories of missionaries who rocked motherless babies in crowded orphanages.
But at this particular moment, I was expectant. I had been waiting for God to show me why I still had a deep yearning for something outside of the boundaries of my city; and here, I was looking right into the faces of orphans.
Yesterday we celebrated 10,715 days of marriage – that’s 29 years for those of you who don’t want to break out your calculators. Despite the fact that just last year we celebrated our 28th, there’s something about 29 that seems different. I suppose it’s because it’s so close to 30, or maybe it’s due to Russ turning 50 in just a few days, which I find surprising – especially knowing I’m not far behind.
I count our marriage as the greatest blessing of my life. We met just after my 17th birthday, got engaged when I was 18, got married when we were 20, and we have no regrets. There are sweet benefits to marrying young.
There is no more lovely, friendly, and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage. Martin Luther
Last month, Russ and I got away for a few days to be refreshed and spend time devoted to our marriage and one another. Over these past weeks we’ve returned to some of our conversations again as we think about how to continue growing our marriage into the beautiful, God-honoring relationship we want it to be. We’re not willing to settle for a marriage that is “good enough.” We want a marriage that is glorious.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, ““It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison
The day Russ and I were married, we entered into a covenant which will be broken only by death. We fervently meant it then, and we mean it now.
This isn’t to say it’s easy – it isn’t. Russ and I are incredibly different which makes life challenging, but also keeps it interesting. Russ would probably add it makes life more fatiguing, which is also true, but being an idealist, I figure we’ll catch up on our sleep one day.
John Piper says this about the covenant of marriage,
If you are in a season right now where the flower is wilted, and you think the solution is to pull the plant up, that’s not the solution. The ground of covenant, the ground of promise…that’s the ground where it can flourish.
As I wrote yesterday, good marriages require work. Life grinds us down, and sin tears at our best intentions. Every marriage should have a healthy dose of repentance and forgiveness, because try as we might, we will sin against one another.
I love this prayer of confession,
Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you inthought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent, for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.
Isn’t this the way it is? We sin against God and the people we love by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. It’s tempting to leave sin unconfessed and unforgiven, but this allows a root of bitterness in our hearts which can only grow into an unhappy marriage.
Confess sin, cling to your covenant, love your husband more than you love yourself, and pray with him and for him. Let your marriage sustain your love.
#721 – 730 giving thanks
Russ, who has faithfully loved me for so many years
the sure knowledge that our life together is a good gift
children, a blessing from the Lord
three days spent away from the frenzy of life to focus on one another
Great marriages don’t just happen, they take work, talking face-to-face, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, intimacy, and even some wise planning. When two sinners join together – for life – hard work will be required to love one another deeply and have a joyful and productive marriage.