When my husband and I were engaged and Genelle was engaged to her husband, a friend of ours took Genelle and I out to lunch. Before we left she gave us each a copy of You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity by Francis and Lisa Chan. The book sat around through my engagement, but I picked it up recently.
The message of the book is simply this: Marriage is amazing, but it is not the most important thing. At first, this was a hard pill for me to swallow. I was taught that marriage is the most important human relationship we can have, and it is – but it’s not everything. I’m going to share things with you both from the book and from my own searching into what marriage is meant to look like. So, here we go!
Our ultimate mission is to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). That’s what Jesus commanded us to do before He ascended. We are to bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and show them what it is like to follow Him. That is our ultimate mission.
So what does that have to do with marriage? Well, a lot actually.
First, if we’re not careful, our marriages can become an idol. They can become our primary focus, distracting us from our ultimate mission – Now, I’m not discounting the importance and wonderfulness of marriage, I promise, just hang with me!
Second, marriage is a vessel. Our marriages on earth are to resemble the relationship between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33). Our marriages are supposed to look different. The way we love our spouses should be showing what selfless love looks like: the kind of Love that would bear a cross so the world could be in communion with a holy and perfect God.
Third, our marriages are strengthened when we are focused on the mission together, when we are serving together. It’s crazy how much a common goal can bring you together. The book uses the example of serving on a mission team: You can come into the situation complete strangers, but after working towards a common goal, you leave bonded. I know this is absolutely true in my marriage. When my husband and I are focused on the mission, we grow closer together. Furthermore, when we are focused on Christ in general, when we pray together and discuss the Word together, we grow so much closer to one another.
Fourth, marriage is a part of our testimony. We are not always strong in our marriages, but that just gives Christ plenty of room to show us that His grace is sufficient and He is strong in our weakness.
Marriage is amazing. It is a beautiful, God-created design. I love being married, but it’s not everything to me. I focus on growing my marriage, on loving my husband selflessly, on growing myself so I can better love my husband, but it is not my everything. In the five short months that we have been married – and the nearly two years we have been together – I have already seen how God is using the testimony of our story to reach others. It is such a beautiful thing. I love that my marriage is about more than just the two of us.
Marriage is the most important human relationship we have while we live on this earth. So many things can come between us and our spouses if we let them. While sometimes God calls us to make sacrifices for His mission – such as leaving home to speak while our spouse stays home or going on a mission trip by ourselves – I don’t think He would ever call us to do something that would put our marriages in danger. If God calls us to do something, we have to trust that He will provide for all of our needs, including emotional ones. Just like I’ve told some of the kids at camp this week when they’ve been missing their parents: “Mommy and Daddy are out there showing teens what it looks like to follow Jesus. They’re out there making disciples, and that’s awesome! So when you miss them, just remember that they are doing awesome things for Jesus.” I then give them a big hug and they snuggle into bed and fall asleep with a little more peace. I’ve had to tell myself that this week, too, because I miss my husband while he’s been out there serving with the kids’ parents.
These things, these sacrifices, can be hard, but we have to keep our eyes on the mission – yet we also need to remember that our spouses aren’t superhuman and they need our love and encouragement during these times, too. We can’t leave them in the dust, saying, “See ya, later!” in the name of Jesus. We have to realize that while on this earth, we are one. Communication needs to stay as open as it can. Prayer and encouragement need to happen as often as they can. Love needs to happen always. Part of love, though, is sacrifice. Saying, “I’ll hold the fort down while you go where God has called you. It’ll be hard, but I can’t wait to hear about it when you come home. I’ll miss you, call when you can, but go do what God has called you to do.”
Whether you’re about to get married or have been for awhile, You and Me Forever is a great read. It’s humbling and beautiful. It can be a hard pill to swallow, but my marriage is better for it.
Until next week, lovelies!