The rain pours and puddles around our feet. We huddle, the three of us, beneath a broken umbrella. A box falls out of the van as I search for my container of baby wipes. Water drips down my cheek as I throw the box back in the van, making a mental note to deliver it to our local thrift store. As I wrap my hand around the white container of wipes, I ponder the effect this place, this thrift store, has on our community. They help feed the homeless, the poor and needy, in the name of Jesus Christ.
As we walk, I wrap my coat a little tighter around my shoulders. We hurry with our hoods pulled tight around our ears to the building, the theater, the place where our friends are waiting. We inhale deeply before we get to the entrance. We know there will be swirls of smoke, cigarette smoke, billowing through the corridors, and so we hurry.
We slip into our seats stage right, and just when our coats are removed and we’ve begun to thaw, the band walks on stage. As the music plays, on my left, I notice my son. He’s dancing and raising his hands in the air, waving. My heart smiles. Our boy, a lover of music.
Then, without warning, I notice a couple to my right. He shakes his head and pulls napkins from his satchel. I watch him as a woman brings stacks of strawberry bread and a handful of bananas. With great care, the man wraps each piece of food tightly and places it in his pockets – pants, shirt, coat, and satchel pockets. I am certain that this couple is unsure where their next meal will come from. As I reach reach for my baby – I want to feel him near – my heart weighs heavy in my chest and instead of raindrops, tears begin to flood my cheeks.
You see, I’m in a place where this is not uncommon. I see it every Sunday, at church, my church.
What does this have to do with a surrendered marriage?
As a couple, Mark and I, our marriage, represents something much larger than two people madly in love with one another. It’s more than that. It’s about Christ and His Church.
This past month Mark has been gone more than he has been home. The very last trip he took, I found myself crying…a lot. I recalled a time in college when I felt this same sinking pit in my stomach, an ache in my heart, and a desire to breathe … to breathe home. I realized to my great dismay that I was homesick – very, very homesick. No, not for my childhood home. For my home, the very one I was standing in. I learned something in that moment, something I had always suspected but never truly grasped. Home is not the building … it’s the people.
As I held my baby tight to my chest and the smell of alcohol burned my nose, I learned something equally as true on Sunday. Church is not the building … it’s the people.
This series, A Surrendered Marriage, is more than just a how-to manual. It’s more than learning how to have a great date night so we can feel connected. It’s more than a manual on how to communicate better so we never have conflict. It’s so much more than these things. And as we near the end of the series, I want to stop for a moment. I want to check our hearts. I want to check my heart. I was sobered to my very core on Sunday.
Because the truth is that we need that thrift store, that place where I take my second hand rejects, because people like Mark and me … we aren’t doing our job. The people, the church, we’re failing. We’re failing to see outside of ourselves. We’re failing to see the bigger picture. We’re not uncomfortable. One moment I’m enjoying my son looking cute and the next I’m sucker punched in the gut with the reality that I have more than enough food in my cupboards.
I understand, not everyone goes to church with the homeless from the streets; I’m not saying that’s what you have to do. Please, do not get distracted by that. But do understand that this series, A Surrendered Marriage, is a series to grow our marriages so that we have a solid foundation in which to share Christ with the world. It’s so we can have an enormous impact on the people of God for the glory of God. If we, two sinners saved by grace, can learn to love each other passionately, it will overflow onto those around us. We build a strong marriage so that we can go and love Christ’s church – the people.