I don’t know how many years of marriage one has to have behind them to write with any authority on marriage, but I suspect it’s more than thirty. But I can tell you that, thirty years ago, the pair pictured below knew little about the journey ahead of them. Like most, they felt more confident than was reasonable as they took vows and began their married life together.
Marriage is a funny thing. You can’t be more or less married. The moment the marriage ceremony was over, we were as married as a couple that’s been married sixty years. But, in another sense, our journey had just begun.
The first years brought me joy. Then I began to learn how selfish I am, how little I really knew how to love another. And then, at some point, I began learning the joy of pursuing someone else’s joy ahead of my own — and that, ironically, this made me more joyful than anything else.
I know this: God blessed me that day. I gained a companion to walk alongside me, to demonstrate strengths where I have none, and to bring out parts of me that I didn’t know existed. Sometimes today I look at her and wonder that God was kind enough to bring us together, not because it’s been easy, but because I deserve much less, and that the hardness of marriage has been just the hardness I need.
Our marriage tells a story. First, it tells a story of God’s grace. God knew me well enough to know how much I needed Char. He gave me someone who loves the Lord with her whole life, who is loving to everyone she meets, and yet is feisty and fun. He knew what I needed and, generously, he gave me a woman who is more than I could have imagined. God has been gracious in giving her to me, allowing me to see what a gift she is, and in helping us through some of the hard times that every marriage faces.
But our marriage also tells another story: the story of Jesus’ love for his bride. My love for Char is like a flashlight powered by an old AA battery compared to the brightness of the sun, but it weakly mirrors the self-giving love of the Savior who loved his bride by dying for her.
Ray Ortlund writes:
The eternal romance — not, in the final analysis, the love of the couple getting married but the love of Jesus for us and our joyful deference to him — the eternal love story is why God created the universe and why God gave us marriage in Eden and why couples fall in love and get married in the world today.
Our marriage tells a story of that eternal romance, one that will eclipse our momentary marriage. We get small glimpses of that romance in ours, and it’s whetting our appetite for more.
Thank God for marriage. In particular, I thank God that thirty years ago today, he allowed me to marry Char. I’m grateful for his sustaining grace, and for the story that our marriage, in halting fashion, tells of a much better romance to come.