I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage lately. Partly because tomorrow (Oct 20th) is our 5 year anniversary. Partly because we are going through a 10-week series on marriage at Midtown, which by the way, is so good that no matter what your marital status is, you’re wrong if you don’t give it a listen.
Not to mention, I was in my friend Travis’s wedding last weekend. We played golf for part of his bachelor party, and there were typical moron middle-aged men who talked to us and pulled the whole, “OH NOOOO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? HOW CAN WE TALK YOU OUT OF THIS?” crap that makes me want to punch them in the face.
Weddings, though. We all know weddings are kind of a show (at least, those of us who have been married for a while, and those of us who are more cynical.) Like romantic comedies that end with the picture-perfect wedding that is nauseatingly happy, we know what they don’t show–what comes after the wedding. Which is where two sinful people live in the same house, sleep in the same bed, sometimes lacerate each other with relational sins that drive a wedge between them more real than a steel door. It is insane how you can literally be best friends with someone, yet at times be completely convinced that they are your worst enemy. We are, all of us, so silly sometimes.
The good news, of course, is that Jesus deals with the wedge. I do or say something stupid, just like I did on the way to the rehearsal dinner last weekend, and there it is. The foot-in-mouth wedge sits between us in the car, immovable it seems.
But Kristi knows that Jesus has forgiven her for much, and that grace sits in her. It gets stored up over time the more you think about it, which is amazing, to the point that it overflows. I say I’m sorry, that I was a jerk. I ask her to forgive me. And she does, without delay. She extends to me the same thing she’s been given. The wedge melts away like the dust that it is, and a few minutes later I joke that “Hey, hurt people hurt people,” and we both laugh hysterically.
The grace of Jesus applied to marriage continues to blow my mind, but the thing that’s really been getting to me lately is the faithfulness of God in marriage. We did a sermon several weeks back called Marriage: Contract or Covenant? that lit a spark under me. We taught Genesis 15, where God makes His covenant with Abraham. It’s basically an ancient handshake that is quite a bit more serious and beautiful (and also very weird to a 2012 American). The practice came from when two kings would make a covenant with each other, and it involved cutting animals in half, separating the halves, and each of them walking through the middle of the split, bloody animals.
So bring a knife and a petting zoo to your next contract signing…
What they were saying was, “I will keep this covenant, and if I don’t, you can kill me like these animals.” But in Genesis 15, God displays one of those earth-shattering, gorgeous foreshadows of the gospel by taking both sides of the covenant onto Himself. He doesn’t even let Abraham walk, because He knows we can’t keep the covenant. He walks through both sides, saying, “I will keep this covenant, and if I don’t, you can kill me…”
“…and when you don’t keep this covenant, I’ll kill Me for it.”
Jesus! Jesus died because I couldn’t keep the covenant. He kept the covenant for me. He was faithful when I was faithless.
Oh, that does a number on your heart if it gets past all the church-speak and religious baggage that can inoculate you to the ferocity of the truth. He was faithful to me when I was a runaway whore. He pursued us to the point of putting on human flesh and tapping us on the shoulder.
And, drumroll please…Genesis 15, walking through the middle of…a center aisle?
Head explosion part two.
Kristi, I will keep this covenant, and if I don’t, you can kill me for it.
Oh, but I won’t! Consider me dead already. I’ll be an idiot guy…I’ll say stupid things. I won’t always love and cherish. At times I’ll not only fail to protect her, I’ll hurt her with my own sin. Sometimes viciously, out of the wickedness of my heart.
Thank God in heaven that Someone has already died for it. Someone has already kept the covenant. Someone has already loved unconditionally, perfectly.
It’s like the Lord is saying: “Sit under that waterfall of faithfulness, and then go pour out what you receive onto her.”
Oh, man. That wrecks me.
Because my heart…my eyes, they are wicked. They wander. They gaze at idols and grocery store magazines and anything else shiny or tan.
But, the good news? Wicked hearts and grocery store magazines are no match for the heart-changing faithfulness of God.
I get home from LifeGroup happy hour tonight and walk into an empty house. Boogie is gone to Virginia for work (I call her Boogie because it’s her nickname and it’s the best). I see a green index card that says:
“Turn on the dryer, please:) Love you!! Oh, I took your brown glasses:)”
And my heart leaps for her, that girl that I married 5 years ago. And I mean, it leaps.
I don’t want a hall pass–I want to grow old with her! I hate that she’s gone. I’ll put her pillows where she normally sleeps and I’ll wish they were her.
If I’ve learned one thing these past 5 years it’s that shiny and new and different and the grass-on-the-other-side are shamefully lame options compared to covenant faithfulness between two imperfect people, til death do them part.
I pray for the ocean of faithfulness we both swim in to never get old, to never stop extending to each other.
That on the day one of us buries the other, it will be said that our marriage was a small but true picture of the much grander and purer fiery-eyed faithfulness of God.
Happy 5 years, Boogie. Here’s to many more.