“…To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part…”
I don’t know if my heart has been as heavy in a very long time as it has been for the past few weeks. Marriages have been disintegrating in our world at a frightening pace for decades now, but it’s different when it begins to touch the people nearest you. Divorce is such a hateful word. A word that describes the process of destroying a home should be seen that way. It gets thrown around so casually that it doesn’t cause any emotion within most of us, and I, for one, think that’s so very sad. How could we become desensitized to such a painful thing? What’s happened to us?
I could spring right into a lengthy diatribe with Scripture references about how God feels about marriage and how heinous it is in His eyes to see someone divorce, but I won’t. If I did, it wouldn’t even register as a blip on the radar to anyone who takes time to look at this post. Truthfully, a great many people wouldn’t go any further, and I would’ve never gotten to speak into their lives on any level. People are pretty sick of that kind of thing from pastors and church people anyway, so I’m just going to “not” if it’s all the same to you.
I married my beautiful bride 17 years ago as of September 26 of this year. I dated her for 5 years before that, so on December 5 we will have been in each others lives for 22 years. People, that’s a long time; in today’s world that’s an eternity. Sadly, I know some who’ve been together far longer that decided it wasn’t worth it anymore and have ended their marriage. There is no safety in a number….just a lot more that is lost when two people decide it isn’t worth it anymore. Neither of us would presume to tell you that we have figured out the secret to staying together. You know why? Because there is no secret. There isn’t magic to be recaptured or feelings to be rekindled. There’s only two people who made a decision a long time ago that there would be no bailing….no running….no trap door if things got tough. We knew that when we placed those rings on each others fingers that it would be forever, because there simply wasn’t another option. We didn’t WANT another option! We came with no other intention but to stay.
I told you that there is no secret, and I stand by that. What there is is a truth: the couple who chases after Jesus together stays together. The couple who surrenders all of themselves to Jesus rather than to the whims of emotion will endure. If you expect to feel the same way you did the day you got married at the end of year 17, you will wonder what in the world you did this for? Emotions are a fickle beast and they will fail and desert you. Nothing of lasting value was ever built on them. You need a much surer foundation, and the Rock of Ages is the surest you’ll find. It’s an enduring and growing love for Him and from Him that gives us the ability to have a growing and enduring love for each other. I tell you with the greatest of confidence that it is the ONLY way to have that kind of love.
I often sit in my living room or in a restaurant and look at my wife when she isn’t paying attention. I am amazed that I get to be with her. I can’t imagine how God would trust me with His girl who is of such beauty and substance when I know who I am and how I didn’t value her as I should in the early part of our dating relationship. I don’t deserve her. But, I also didn’t deserve to be died for on a cross and be brought out of death and into life. God shows us so much love and lavishes grace upon grace upon grace on us in spite of our rebellion against Him. He takes us and makes all things new. All I know is that every moment has been worth it with her…good, bad, awful, beautiful. I wouldn’t have wanted to do them with anyone else, and I don’t want to do any of the ones to come with anyone else either. You DECIDE to love ’til death. We decided, and it’s been all the difference.
If you’re reading this and you’re at the crossroads of decision, please don’t leave. There may be some work ahead, but it will be worth it if you and your spouse grab hold of Jesus and move forward together from this moment on. Decide. Decide to stay. Find everything that God has in store together and show the world something it has long forgotten and needs now more than ever.