You and Me Forever

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!

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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.

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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.”

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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!

 

 

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The Most Important Choice

Our lives are built around the choices we make.  We choose what to wear, who to associate with, where to go to school, what car to drive, who to be in a relationship with, where to live, what to do in our free time.  These choices shape our lives, some for the better, some for the worse.  But in the end there is only one choice that matters, and it’s not anything I listed above.

The beginning of Isaiah chapter 5 sets the scene: God’s Vineyard that should have flourished yet has yielded only bitter fruit – this is in reference to God’s people, not God’s grapes.  Between Isaiah and God we get a picture of what this looks like: the people are hoarding wealth and are overcome with love for material things, they are living life to what they think is the fullest yet ignoring God, they are confusing good with evil, they are drunks, they are corrupt.  I’m sure the list could have went on and on (in chapter 3 they’re compared to Sodom – ouch).

In verse 24, Isaiah says that “their roots will rot, their flowers will wither and fly away like dust, for they refused to accept the law of the Eternal, the Commander of Heavenly armies.”

These people chose to have great estates and to entertain themselves with all the pleasures of life, but in the end none of it mattered because they failed to make the most important choice of all: following God.

Through the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ we are no longer bound to the law like the Israelites were, but we still have the same choice to make: whether or not to follow God.

When Jesus hung on the cross, He didn’t hang alone, with Him hung every sin you and I would ever commit; He payed our ransom.  And when He rose again, He gave you and I the chance to be created in a new life through Him, to be brought from death to life.

Accepting Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life is the most important choice you will ever make: it’s the difference between life and death.  Life following God won’t always be easy, there will be trials and there will be storms and you will have to make the decision to go against the culture on many issues, but on your side you will have the One who loved you enough to die for you and everything you’ve done to offend Him, the One who conquered the very chains of death itself so that we – mere humans – could spend Eternity with the One who created us and loves us. You will go through life knowing you are never alone, that you are loved, that you were worth the God of the universe sending His Son to die in your place.

He chose you. Will you choose Him?

Photo Credit: Aaron Burden