Mark and I do not have the perfect union. We are a work in progress. We fight. We make-up. We pray. We whine. We pick. We love. We play. We rest. But through it all, the one thing we want to be sure we’re doing is growing in the Lord.
As a matter of fact, Mark was adamant about one thing before he asked me to marry him. Our difference in the number of kids we wanted he could overlook. The difference in our backgrounds he could overlook. The fact that I told him I refused to unscrew the top from the toothpaste before using it was even something he was willing to take on. By the way, I never have unscrewed the top. I forget. I really do forget. So more than all of those things, before embarking on a life-long covenant, we had to be sure we could glorify God more together than we could separately.
In his book, Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas exhorts us:
Marriage requires a radical commitment to love our spouses as they are, while longing for them to become what they are not yet. Every marriage moves either toward enhancing one another’s glory or toward degrading each other. – Dan Allender and Tremper Longman III
Marriage was created by God to put on display Christ and the Church. Therefore, this ultimately means that marriage was created for God’s glory. In the whirlwind of emotions that take place during courtship or dating, it is important that you realize you will change and mold and grow as a couple, and this is good. We are not meant to stay stagnant in our walk with the Lord, but ever reaching forward, pressing toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).
When we got married, we essentially said, “I love you, you’re so perfect for me … now change.”
Marriage is not about you. It is not about your happiness. It is about God. It is about growth in grace. It is about becoming more and more like Christ as you seek to live out the purpose for which you were united – a symbol of Christ and His Church.
This is a tall order. One that cannot be accomplished in our own strength. We need Jesus. We need the man who lived the perfect life. The man who died the absolute perfect death, horrific though it was. We need the man who rose from the grave, conquering sin, and defeating death. We need our Savior who is at the right hand of God interceding on our behalf.
In marriage, we must be on a mission of helping one another to grow more and more into the image of Christ. We cannot be passive. We must be vigilant. We must exhort our spouses in the Word of God. We must love them through their sinfulness and forgive as we have been forgiven. We must be constant in prayer. And we must be ever increasing in our knowledge of our Lord and Savior. We do this by immersing ourselves in the God.
What I am saying is that we must be sold out for Christ. More than the next TV show, more than the next race, or fishing trip, we have to be sold out for Christ. There cannot be anything more important.
I have really been struggling recently with guilt, skewed priorities, and a lack of passion for the Lord. I shared my struggles with a friend, and she sent me this passage.
Mark 10:28-30, “Peter began to say to him, ‘See, we have left everything and followed you.’ Jesus said, ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.'”
She went on to explain to me that there is nothing more important than being sold out for the kingdom. Yes, we will reap benefits now, but they will be partnered with trials. However, as we look even further down the road, we see the light, the eternal light of glory awaiting us.
Are you sold out for the kingdom? Do you see your marriage striving on for one another’s growth in grace? Are you seeking to glorify God more together, or are you settled into a life of doing your own thing? Now is the time to take hold of your marriage, shake it by the shoulders, square up and run for God’s purpose for your marriage.
Photo taken by Erin Manfredi