marriage as spiritual discipline…

When I was younger, my world revolved around me.  When I wasn’t allowed to do something, my focus was on how it impacted me.  When any “event” occurred, my first thought was generally how the chain of happenings will link to me.  I’ll confess, sometimes that still happens.  When I experience bad customer service.  When I’m hungry.  When an important hockey game is on.  But I’m praying, and I’m married….two things that seem to help.

Last week I flew to Atlanta, Georgia to spend some time with other youth workers from our denomination.  On the plane, I attempted to distract myself in conversation with those around me.  Out of the 4 flights (2 there and 2 back), I managed to engage at least 2 worthwhile relational endeavors.  For the other 2 flights, I was left to my own thoughts.

My thoughts ranged from the book I was reading, to the experience of our flight going down after colliding with a flock of geese.  But the interesting thing about the thoughts of our plane crashing?  My mind wasn’t thinking about how my body would respond to a crash.  I wasn’t worried about the lack of oxygen, or the pain and spilled blood.  My first thoughts were of my family back home, and praying they never have to experience that type of loss.

In his first chapter of “Sacred Marriage”, Gary Thomas quotes C.S. Lewis from “The Screwtape Letters”:

(a demon speaking about humans)”…They regard the intention of loyalty to a partnership for mutual help, for the preservation of chastity, and for the transmission of life, as something lower than a storm of emotion.”

The premise of Thomas’ book is “What if God designed marriage to make us Holy more than to make us happy?”  I’d have to say, it’s a great reminder.  Especially in talking recently about renewing how I accept my wife as a gift from God. To accept her as someone God has given me to be my “helper” not just in life, but in my walk with Him.

Marriage moves us toward the “other”, compelling us and challenging us to go outside ourselves.  Teaches us the greater value of letting go of “self”.  To have, and to seek “romance” (and not just “eros”, but all of the emotionally charged, image-rich experiences of “lovey-dovey-ness”) in a marriage isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it becomes more healthy/beautiful as it is pursued for the other, and not for myself.  Which is echoed tremendously in our experiences with God.  To desire a whimsical, emotionally-charged experience of the divine is not an evil hunger…but that desire springs not from a thrill-seeking selfish-ambition.  It springs from a desire to worship and serve the God who has created all, has made covenant to restore and make all things new, and has sent His Spirit to move among us – already beginning that process.

I thank God for my wife, and for all our marriage has done/is doing/will do….for our walk with God, how our children walk with God, and generations to follow…

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