Four Things I’m Learning

“Why have you stopped blogging since you got married? I want to hear what you’re learning!”

I was surprised by this question from a friend. I’d assumed that the last thing they wanted was to hear my new and naïve thoughts on marriage! But I’ve missed blogging, and there are lots of things I am thinking through. Here are four:

1) God’s wisdom and ways are so good!

This shouldn’t be a surprise of course, yet one of the things that Tim and I have been struck by is the wisdom and goodness of God’s design for marriage. Society offers numerous views and options, and today many are suspicious or outright incredulous that marriage can possibly be a good thing. Surely it’s just too fraught with difficulty, unpredictability, and potential heartbreak? Some of our friends think we are unwise to commit to lifelong marriage (and crazy to wait for physical intimacy until the wedding day!)

As Christians we decided to trust in God’s wisdom by obeying him even though we were scared. We’re grateful for the friends who have modelled marriage to us and reminded us of its goodness. We’re just at the beginning, but we’ve already seen profound wisdom in God’s design, and been so blessed by marriage so far that we feel ashamed of our doubts! When we’re fearful about the future we remind each other that God promises to help us.

“He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.” Psalm 25:9-10 

2) I have a god complex

Whether you have a housemate or a spouse, you quickly become aware of things that aren’t done the way you like them! It’s been shamefully revealed that I want everything and everyone around me to fall in line with my desires and preferences. What’s a helpful gospel response to this? Well, instead of being quick to complain or to push my agenda, I can accept the reminder that I am not God and so I can’t require everything to orbit around me! In fact, having my own way (in effect being worshipped) can’t satisfy anyway, because I was made to serve him who is infinitely greater and more worthy of worship. This frees me to show grace and consider others rather than seeking my own fulfillment.

 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant,” Philippians 2:5-7

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3) We need other people to challenge us

One of the things I was nervous about as we prepared for marriage was conflict. It’s a necessary but uncomfortable part of any real relationship. Yet, unexpectedly I find myself flourishing as my husband questions and challenges me. I’m fortunate to be married to a kind and patient man who challenges me more gently and less frequently than I deserve, but I can already see how key it is, and that it’s part of our love for each other to point out when one of us is wrong, unwise, or failing to see the bigger picture. I’ve still got a long way to go in this area, but it’s been encouraging to see how difficult discussions can actually lead to helpful change and growth.

And in relation to this …

 4) I can change

When I was a young adult I was used to changes in my circumstances, knowledge, skills, and personality. I was still growing and developing, and so I expected it, enjoyed the adventure, and tried to cultivate positive change in my life. However I’ve noticed as I’ve moved into my thirties that I’m much more change-averse . I make excuses, and  believe that when it comes to some things I simply can’t! And yet change is still a crucial process.

Marriage forces change. It brings a radical change in circumstances, and effects change in one’s habits, character, and countless other areas. It’s a process which is uncomfortable at times, yet exciting and fruitful. So I’m repenting of my negative attitude and asking God to use the changes which our marriage brings to transform us in ways that please him, growing us in godliness and greater love for each other. Moreover for the Christian, God is continually at work by his Spirit to transform us to be more like Jesus Christ. That’s change which I can embrace!

Can you relate to any of these? I’d love to hear your comments.

Nim

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And The Bride Wore White

I really want to walk down the aisle in my own strength.

No, not physically – although I hope to do that too! 

I mean that I want to walk into the church on our wedding day ready to be a great wife: loving, faithful, kind, wise, etc. I want to be walking with God with perfect faith, obedience and maturity. I want to say my marriage vows without a shred of doubt that I can keep them perfectly. . .

 (I’m sure that most of you are already laughing at my idealism!)

Unsurprisingly when I look at my selfish sinful heart I don’t feel very confident.  I am aware of many areas of sin, faithlessness, and failure which will now affect another person! Left to myself I don’t feel sure that I can always love Tim “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health”, even though I desperately want to. 

So as I walk down the aisle to marry the man of my dreams, it is vital that I walk upon the beautiful and secure foundation that the Bible gives us.

running brideA Walk of Joy-filled Faith

As I mentioned in a previous post, marriage is actually a metaphor for something greater. It models Jesus Christ’s eternally loving and faithful marriage to his church (all those who love and follow him). 

A key symbol in both is the white clothing that the bride wears. We know that white symbolises purity and innocence, and many brides feel that the outward symbolism may not match the reality!  But the beautiful and freeing difference about the biblical picture is that the bride is given her white clothing to wear by her groom Jesus Christ – because he has purchased it for her at the cost of his own life! (See Ephesians 5:25-27, Isaiah 61:10, and Revelation 7:9-10)

The church may be unworthy, and full of sinful failure, but Jesus, her loving groom clothes her with beautiful robes that are perfect and white, and she is utterly radiant.

How does this biblical picture help me as I prepare to walk down the aisle in a few weeks time?

  1. I walk humbly. My own goodness is not enough. I need Jesus to clothe me and equip me to keep the sacred marriage  promises which point to his eternal promises to us.
  2. I walk confidently. Because my confidence is in God’s character and deeds, and not my own. He is faithful, good, and loving. My white clothing ultimately point to his perfection.
  3. I walk steadfastly. Jesus never leaves or forsakes his bride the church, and his love for her is unfailing despite her many failures. His faithfulness and love enables ours.
  4. I walk joyfully, rejoicing in the white that I wear and everything it symbolises, and full of thanks for the gift of marriage with this man whom God has entrusted to me. Our joy is increased in the knowledge that this earthly marriage bears witness (however insufficiently) to the perfect future marriage of Christ and his church.

 

Nim