After trying to form a once a month marriage night gathering early this year, I’ve come to realize that it may take some time to get our group to gather consistently. Yet, I’m optimistic. We’re all very busy and are pulled in so many directions. Also, we have found a lot of fruit interacting with each other socially around the subject of marriage and parenting and life just in our day-to-day lives. I was reminded by the parents of one of the couples in our group yesterday that it will take sticking with it to get an actual group together to discuss marriage on a consistent basis. Our group ranges from around 25 to 40 and life is just crazy and frankly emotional at times.
My parents and my wife’s parents inspire me to keep at this and get our group corralled. I’m even thinking it could be fun to arrange something using one of the church’s fellowship area in town but it not being an official function of that one church. It would be, in time, a gathering where a friend of mine – thinking of a young pastor I think would be willing to help this happen – could introduce a chapter summary at a time on a book called The Meaning of Marriage by Tim & Kathy Keller. Then, we could discuss the summary at each of our tables and have the kiddos being watched in the Sunday school rooms. If this worked out, it could be something that is done every-other year. Each table would be led by someone like me who’s trying to get a marriage group together but has run into struggles with getting it to materialize due to child care and other challenges. I’m a visionary, so I’m probably saying too much in a public forum, but it’s an idea to pray about as a community. The church building and the young pastor I speak of are generic – though I do have a few buildings and a few pastors in mind who would fit this bill.
The title of this blog post is actually the sub-title of the book “The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God.” In prepping for this post, I re-read the Introduction. Until either our home context marriage group or a community-wide context re-starts, I’m going to start going through this book publicly with prayers, one chapter at a time. Why not, right?
The couples in our group are AMAZING. I’m inspired by my friends. I won’t identify them here except for one couple for now who I know won’t mind. I’ve highlighted them before here, and the husband in the duo, Thomas Atkins, is the provider of most of the images I use for this blog. Thus, I chose to use a photo of them in Hawaii I believe from their honeymoon for this post.
I wanted to highlight Thomas in particular because he is an example of a man who has chosen commitment and covenant and has been wrestling against the culture for years now. He has walked a path of resolve and seeking of God’s heart for relationships, and I’m really proud of him and Courtney and their standing up for marriage and the hope in Christ that’s available to every married couple as they dive into decades of marriage ahead and now parenting right around the corner. They own a business here in town that puts them front and center in our community very often – Twain Harte Mini Golf.
Thomas and I have always had something we enjoy together, which we call Our Adventures. I’m not the only one Thomas has this in common with either. When I went to his bachelor party a couple of years ago, there was a whole crowd of tough dudes who all had the same thing in common with the man I fondly call “Tom A”. Man after man around the camp fire shared stories of amazing mountain adventures with Thomas Atkins. At Tom and Courtney’s wedding, Tom’s dad, T.Y., did a wonderful job performing the ceremony and leading them to making their covenant with one another. He spoke to Tom of all of the heights he has submitted and the views he has seen. When he married Courtney, he knew they would together still see amazing actual views, you can’t help it being around Tom, but he personally would more importantly be with his bride now to see, very intimately, the heights of God’s grace as seen in the covenant of marriage. God shows us grace as singles or as marrieds, but there is something extremely unique to the views of God’s grace as seen inside of the covenant of marriage.
Sure, it’s rocky at times. Sure, we long for relief from our awareness of our inadequacies – Carrie and I are nearing 10 years of marriage and very aware of our imperfections. Yet, as we engage with one another to celebrate God’s forgiveness and awesome grace, we learn to submit to one another out of reverence for Jesus Christ. In that spirit of mutual worship of our LORD, we come to celebrate our union as the picture of the eternal marriage we have with all believers to our Savior.
As Keller points out in the intro I just read, the Bible starts out with a human wedding and ends with the wedding that starts our deepest and most meaningful beginning to our eternal marriage to God Himself. Doesn’t that put all of this talk about commitment into perspective? We are tied through this beautiful invisible thread to the perfect Creator of our souls. When we submit to Jesus Christ as our Savior and our eternal LORD, we’re undone by love. Our fears are calmed. Our joys grow deep, no matter the storms, and our hope is found where it’s meant to be found, in the death and now eternal LIFE of the one Husband Who will never fail or disappoint, the One leader and lover of our souls, to Whom all the credit for this eternal covenant goes.
LORD, we surrender all to You. Your Word has You identified as LORD over 7,000 times. Please remind us to trust You with each other and with our souls, our very beings. Thank You for authoring our lives and writing our stories and drawing us into eternal relationship(s) with You. Teach us to lean on You and share our burdens with You as well as our concerns for one another. Teach us to hope in You alone and thereby find the strength to reach out and serve one another with cheerful hearts of love rather than having hearts of greed or fear. We know You know our frames and our fears and You are aware of our struggles. Lead us in Your Word, Your Spirit, and the fellowship of each other to experience Your grace for our marriages and other various relationships. These are relationships that get messy at times, but thank You for the deeper joys we experience in these relationships rather than the sorrows from abandoning relationships designed by God. Teach us to stick with it and seek one another out and experience the joy of lasting love, getting better and better tastes of Your lasting love for us, Your people. In Jesus Christ’s name and character we trust, Amen.
Thank you in advance for your responses, friends.