My wife and I were honored with the opportunity to meet The Bridge, a college and career group of singles from our home church, Chapel in the Pines here in Twain Harte, CA. I spoke to the group about Carrie’s and my covenant relationship, how we met, how we went about getting to know each other, and a little about our nine years of marriage. We haven’t felt that we would share our story very much to date for two reasons: We have felt sort of like believers who don’t feel there testimonies are exciting enough to share – our story is simple with very little excitement from a “making mistakes” point of view; and, we haven’t wanted to stir up any jealousy or comparison. We were each other’s first kiss, first date, first time (after getting married) in bed. We never touched another person in a romantic way. We saved ourselves in every way for each other, though having crushes and interests along the way. We married at age 23 and 21 respectively and learned of romantic love together, mostly inside of our marriage. It’s old school. And, our marriage was essentially arranged! Our families thought we would make a great match after having spent time together for a few years around holidays, so I asked her dad if I could write letters with Carrie and have a phoning relationships over a five month period. During this time of being 3,000 miles apart (me in VA and Carrie in CA), we had one simple rule: We couldn’t use words like “us/we”. I’d mentioned “marriage” in my first letter to her and sort of set the rules for our “friendship”. She was cool with this, and she saw that I wasn’t wanting to play with her heart.
We eventually established a more traditional feeling dating relationship over the following summer, with her parents’ blessing of course, and we were engaged by that fall and married by the following summer. What The Bridge group from last night pointed out that really hit all of us was my statement about a correlation between our relationship prior to dating and our relationship with Christ now as believers. I didn’t even plan to say this, but it impacted all of us. While we were letter writing and having long friendship-building conversations over the phone on Sundays, I had to rack my brain to remember what Carrie looked like! I’d met her a total of about five times up to that point. I was very attracted to her, but I still couldn’t remember exactly what she looked like. We grew in our affection for one another during this season of our friendship-building even though we didn’t talk about “us”. We learned a lot about each other, asked lots of questions, celebrated God’s work in each other’s lives, encouraged what we saw God was up to in each other’s lives and through each other’s lives, not getting yet to talk about what we thought of each other becoming “us” quite yet.
What stuck out to all of us last night was this: Just like I didn’t get to see Carrie’s face until she sent me a picture of herself a few months into our phoning season, we don’t have Jesus’ face right in front of us at all times. We daily grow in our enraptured love for Jesus, and yet none of us have actually seen His actual face!
How beautiful a correlation! Carrie and I celebrate our love all the more as we are encouraged by others about the purity of our love. Yet, everyone can celebrate the love of our Savior in a fare more magnificent sense. Like Carrie’s and my growing romance when we couldn’t see each other face to face, or hold hands, or eventually during our engagement kiss and speak fondly of being married for the rest of our lives… We don’t get to see Christ face-to-face until that Day of His return or the day when we pass from this world to that which is to come – eternity with Christ.
I hope I’m not belaboring this point too much. Carrie and I have never wanted our story to be distracting for others. I hope you can see this correlation as the main point. Though we haven’t seen our Savior face-to-face, our love for Him through prayer, time in His Word, and fellowship with our siblings in Christ grows more and more. The more we engage with the things of God, though we can’t see God, the more our love for Him and commitment to Him grows. We become recklessly abandoned to our relationship to Him, making all of our plans in accordance with an eternal intimacy with Him face-to-face.
Our practice together as believers of covenant-keeping with our Savior is transformational. The more we live our lives in light of this covenant that God has made with us to never leave us or forsake us, to never choose a different bride, to always pursue and love and rescue us, to wash us with the water of His Word, to strengthen us and renew us with His Spirit… the more we celebrate Him together, the more we will REJOICE IN THE LORD, as Paul encourages the Philippians to do daily together.
Let’s celebrate the Savior together today and forever, friends.