There is nothing like the big V-Day to get you thinking about candy, flowers, and, of course, love. Each week we connect through this blog post, joining each other in prayer for love to fill the air and hearts to be joined together in marriage. We believe and hope that God will hear our prayers, for ourselves and others to find love and be united in holy matrimony. Do you ever wonder what it is that we are actually praying for? Is the culmination of our prayers for all of us to find spouses, ride off into the sunset and live blissfully ever after, the end?
Love is wonderful, marriage is good, but we know that wonderful and good do not always translate into ever after. Have you noticed that there are few stories in the Bible detailing how someone moved from singleness to marriage? Ruth found Boaz in a wheat field and their music-filled, “you’re the one” moment involved a threshing floor. Maybe this would work in Iowa, running through the wheat fields flagging down combines for eligible men, not sure, but it does make for a good mental video. Rebecca wed Isaac because she watered some camels. Perhaps the equivalent is putting gas in some man’s car? The Bible doesn’t really speak to how we are to go about finding a spouse. I’d also venture a guess that if you polled your married friends you would find just as many stories on how they met and married their spouses.
See, I believe God is much more concerned with why we do something than how.
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart. Proverbs 21:2
But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve. Jeremiah 17:10
Imagine how boring life would be if God gave us step-by-step instructions for how He wanted us to do stuff. We each get to live out our own creative stories of how God is at work in our lives, doesn’t that just get you all excited? There is a connecting thread of purpose in the stories of Ruth and Rebecca that lead to the importance of “why” they married. God was completing His promise to Abraham that his descendants would be greater than the stars and out of them would come the Savior of the world. These couples and their offspring are in the lineage of Jesus; their unions fulfilled a greater purpose.
A few weeks ago, I devoured Tim Keller’s book “The Meaning of Marriage.” For those unfamiliar with Tim Keller, he is a pastor of Redeemer Church in New York City. He wrote this book based on a sermon series he preached several years ago to a congregation of 80% singles. I know what some of you are thinking, get me to NYC, with those odds I’ve got to find a spouse! He writes the book with a single audience in mind and really dissects the “why” of marriage.
Dominant western culture says that the purpose and meaning of marriage is self-fulfillment. Chemistry and sexual compatibility are paramount in forming a relationship with someone, and we can look no further than the top-rated box office hits for how this plays out in our culture. However, God desires for us to live outside of self and our desires, wants, and needs and look to the needs of others.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
As we explore the “why” of marriage, let’s delve into excerpts from Tim’s book:
What if, however, you began your marriage understanding its purpose as spiritual friendship for the journey to the new creation? What if you expected marriage to be about helping each other grow out of your sins and flaws into the new self God is creating? (page 149)
And the main message of this chapter is that the key to giving marriage that kind of priority is spiritual friendship. So many marriages are begun with the journey of God only as an afterthought. Many Christians congratulate themselves that they have married another believer, but they look at their prospective spouse’s faith as simply one more factor that makes him or her compatible, like common interests and hobbies. But that is not what spiritual friendship is. It is eagerly helping one another know, serve, love, and resemble God in deeper and deeper ways. (pages 144-145)
This Monday, let’s not just pray for marriages, let’s pray that God develops spiritual friendships that challenge us to grow more Christ-like, flourish in love, and expand the kingdom of God!
Happily ever after,