Taking a break from the 2014 prep to talk briefly about a powerful encounter I had this week in Scripture. Last week, I decided to take further steps in intentionally preparing my heart for our upcoming marriage (7 months & 10 days to go!). Yes, you read right– marriage, not wedding. While we know our wedding day will be special, Zach and I have had the conversation countless times that we are most looking forward to marriage, and doing life together in Jesus’ name.
One of my favorite passages of Scripture concerning marriage is Ephesians 5. During one of my quiet times last week, I noticed a portion of the passage that had never caught my eye before. Verse 32 says, “This mystery is profound….it refers to Christ and the church.” (ESV) It struck me– and I wasn’t even sure why. I decided to think on it and pray over it for a few days.
As you can see to the left, I also chose to post it on Instagram, along with one of our engagement photos, taken by the lovely Erica Serrano (check out her amazing blog here).
This is when things get a little weird. The day before Christmas , I hopped on my Amazon Prime to purchase a copy of Timothy Keller’s book, “The Meaning of Marriage.” It has been recommended to me several times and I decided to use some of my Christmas money to buy it. It arrived in the mail on Thursday (gotta love that 2-day shipping!) but I didn’t really start reading it until this afternoon while we were visiting Boone.
At first, I was a little depressed by some of the statistics and anecdotes told about unsuccessful marriages and the effect of today’s culture on marriage, etc., etc. But I knew Keller was getting somewhere, so I stuck it out. And wouldn’t you know, God had something in store for me. Remember how I studied Ephesians 5 during my quiet time earlier in the week? Keller’s entire book is built upon this text (which I would have known if I’d researched the book more before purchasing). Remember how I was stuck on verse 32? Chapter 1’s main message was based upon verse 32! I was blown away.
Here’s a brief breakdown and result of an inner dialogue with God from what I learned today in my reading:
1. Marriage is a Great Mystery. Uh, yeah. Committing your whole life and self to a person (whom Keller argues you don’t even really know based on that fact that you’ll evolve) who is as imperfect as you are? Yep. Total mystery. He says the Greek word mysterion refers to “some wondrous, unlooked-for truth that God is revealing through His Spirit” (41). And my heart started beating faster– Is this what you have in store for us, God? Because that’s what I want. Then Keller went on to say that in this context, Paul actually labels marriage as a mega-mysterion, meaning that it’s “an extraordinarily great, wonderful and profound truth that can be understood only with the help of God’s Spirit.” Which means we aren’t in it alone.
2. Our marriage is a reflection of the Gospel. Keller quotes G.W. Knight who says, “This is one of God’s great purposes in marriage: to picture the relationship between Christ and His redeemed people forever!” (42). Not only does Jesus provide an example of what our relationship should have– grace, forgiveness, patience, service, understanding, etc., but He also allows us to experience a small portion of what our relationship with our Abba Father God is like. If the overwhelming love I feel from Zach is only a glimpse of the full-fledged love of God, then the love and grace of God is so much bigger than my earthly self can comprehend. And if God has designed something as beautiful as marriage–because it is still beautiful, maybe even more so, in its broken moments and hard times–for us in this life, then how much more beautiful and grand Heaven will be.
What a mystery– that Elohim (Mighty Creator God) created marriage to provide us with a glimpse of His everlasting love. What a mystery– that He would allow us to experience such a life of selflessness toward one another to be more like Him. What a mystery– that He would build an earthly relationship to mirror the intimacy He has in store for us.
I truly cannot wait to pick my book back up and continue reading. But I’m pacing myself (or trying) so I can savor the lessons God is teaching me. As I come across other influential interpretations, I will do my best to share.
I will be back on the blog Tuesday to share more from my #2014GoalSetting process as we continue along. I hope you make the most of the last few days of 2013.