Sunday, November 16, 2014

Happily Ever After?

            There is a diamond ring on my left hand and a pretty white dress in the closet.  A man has professed his love for me, and I reciprocated.  A photographer has taken our pictures and we’re neck deep in wedding planning.  God-willing, we will soon live together, become “one flesh” and start a family.  Is this my happily ever after?  Has it finally arrived?? 

            Fortunately, no!  Although my fiancĂ© is a great man, we would be headed for disaster if I were to place my hope in his love, efforts, and presence.  I am not “demanding soul-level satisfaction from him” because he is not made for such a thing.1  His role as a husband, as outlined in Ephesians 5, is to love me sacrificially and lead me towards purity (purity not being an absence of sexual intimacy, but a turning from sin toward a more Christ-like life).  I am thankful that he will say vows with me in January, and strive to be faithful in God’s design for marriage…but he will be far from perfect in his execution, as will I.  Although I am still not married, I know that romance, companionship, sex, laughter and love from my husband will not cure my ailments.  Rather, our sin will be magnified.  Selfishness will be uncovered and laziness challenged.  Loneliness and lust will not be distant memories from the days we were single.  Why?  Because although a desirable blessing and sacred bond, marriage does not bring salvation from the muck of this life.  However, it is a picture of the gospel.  The union of a man and woman in marriage is intended to provide a glimpse of Christ’s love for the church.  Christ shows forgiveness when wrath is deserved, extending compassion and help to those who are weak, and gave his life that the chasm between us and God would be bridged.  I pray that my marriage might be characterized by such radical love, grace and mercy.

            My point in all this is to crumble the idolatry of marriage, which I am all too familiar with, and point to the unfailing rock of the only true and lasting happy ending: eternal life with Jesus Christ.  Marriage does not continue after death (Matthew 22:23-33) because it is not the goal of our existence.  God created man and woman to have a close relationship with him, worshipping him with no shame.  For those who surrender their lives to Christ as the only means of salvation, this beautiful and sinless union with God is fully restored.  I am thankful for my fiancĂ©’s love, and I hope we can live together many years in marriage.  However, I am even more grateful for Jesus’ perfect love, which extends from before the world began and will continue forever…literally.  What an amazing, albeit mysterious, view we get of this life in the book of Revelation. Jesus makes all things new – a new heaven and new earth, as the old have passed away.  There will be no tears or pain as God dwells with people from all nations.  Together we will praise God with the angels, seeing Jesus before our very eyes. [Revelation 7:9-12; 21:1-8, 22-27]

            In all times and circumstances, this is where my hope lies.  Where, or in whom, is yours found?

“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed.  But you are the same, and your years will have no end.”
Hebrews 1:10-12

"Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.  Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long."
Psalm 25:4-5
1 – Alvin L. Reid & Ashley Marivittori Gorman, The Book of Matches, page 16.
 For further exploration:
Song - "In Christ Alone"