This has been a week of thinking on the beauties of marriage.
Yesterday, Tara and I celebrated our 9th anniversary! It's amazing to recount how much God has changed us, stretched us, and matured us since 2000. Proverbs 31:10 says, "An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels." I can HONESTLY say after nine years of marriage that I have struck gold with Tara! And if someone came and offered me a billion dollars (and all the pleasures that it would bring), but required me to leave Tara......I would laugh in their face as I graciously tried to explain how much they have undervalued her worth to me. No jewels, no money, no anything can replace her in my life.
(Incidentally, why me??? I'm blown away by the mercy and kindness of God. The course of my life would be radically different if not for Tara)
And then on Saturday, I have the privilege of officiating the first wedding in Grace Church - the marriage of Bonnie Gregory to Lance Sullivan. They have no idea what awaits them - good times or bad, for better or worse, they are covenanting to live their lives together for the glory of Christ. They will say "I love you", and over the years they will see how little they actually did in comparison to how much they WILL love each other with each passing year.
It will not be easy. It never is. Marriage is hard work. Marriage involves pain. It brings conflict. It is not rose-colored glasses, or non-stop sex, or dinners always on the table when you come home from work, or every dream being fulfilled. It is a crucible of sanctification, where two sinners learn to extend forbearance, and patience, and forgiveness, and love in spite of their spouse's weaknesses.
How is it possible to do this? Only from understanding the depths of Christ and his covenant-keeping love for His bride. He died to sanctify his bride and promises to never leave nor forsake us. As we experience His redemptive love for us, it transforms our hearts so that we love our spouse like this, too. This is how love is maintained. Oh how grateful I am that true love isn't contingent on my perfection, but on Christ's!
So, here's to you, Tara - may God continue to use our marriage for the demonstration of His glory. Here's to you, Lance and Bonnie - may God bless you with joy, love, children, faith, forgiveness, and forbearance. To Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to Him be glory!