Twenty four years ago on Monday, I made a vow. A sacred, holy binding vow. Did I know what I was doing? Yes, sort of. Knowing something in your head is not the same thing as knowing it in your heart though. Probably most people know in the head what their vow means and what it will require, but only those who may have seen marriage difficulties in their childhood have a glimpse of the heart knowledge of the vow...and I really didn't.
It was trial by fire for the first couple of years of our marriage. Only the grace of God kept us together, because I certainly wasn't prepared for the hardships of young marriage. My wonderful and soft life of 20 years didn't equip me for what the vow would require and the fact that both of us were still in school, full time, made financial stress as well. Our sin nature put a damper on the young romance as well...go figure. By worldly standards, our marriage looked pretty awkward, I'm sure. Our ducks were not lined up pretty in a row, our plan was long and we were living on love...the tough brand of love rather then the tender sort. Some would say we were too inexperienced and young to be married. Our life and marriage could have been easier had we been older, more experienced and “set up” financially. That's probably true.
Easier and more comfortable is not what God was going for. It's what I would have enjoyed, but looking back, I see providence and wisdom in His ways. My son was in a church skit one time about such a topic and the stressed out, young married couple being portrayed gave the punchline, “Marriage is not to make you happy, but holy”. Holiness. A couple set apart. A picture of Jesus and His people. The purpose of marriage sheds light on my issue and the disease our modern marriages are suffering from.
If marriage was designed primarily for our pleasure than maybe God might have gone back to the drawing board. But He didn't, because that is only marriage's second purpose...the after effect. The primary purpose, according to the Bible, is the same as everything else in a Christian life...for His Glory. He is glorified in a marriage that mirrors His love...suffering and sacrifice which leads to death, then power, ressurection, new life and glory!! That pretty much desribles the 24 years of my marriage...we had to suffer, sacrifice, die to oursleves, then God intervened as we lay face down in the muck. He lifted us, cleaned us, fed us and poured His power into our hearts. We trusted His word with that power and feasted on His wisdom. A new way led to a glorious relationship, one that could never have been born in comfort.
Yes, I was young...young hearts are better to train, teach and guide in righteousness. We went through the fire together. The trials endured together mold two people in a way that is not easily broken. That's what we need...marriages not easily broken. This kind of love making requires two hearts set on Jesus' holiness and cross carrying, I guess that would be the readiness criteria for marriage rather than age. There are plenty of older people in the world with unprepared hearts who would not pass the readiness test for marriage.
My oldst son is 21 in January and his fiance will be 20 on the day they marry. The numbers mean nothing to me. They will face hardship. They will not be comfortable all the time. They are not “set up” quite yet. They understand and are committed to the true purpose and plan for marriage though...and that is rare...like a Red Beryl, 1,000 times more valuable then gold, mostly hidden from the world, but seen and treasured by God. Understanding is all they can have at this point. No one is ever really "ready". They could wait a little longer and be a little more "set up", but for the Christian, this wait is a gamble for the loss of another precious gem the world does not see the value of too. It will be hard to watch them in the fire of young marriage, I'm sure, but I know the truth. I know what God is doing and I have to trust that, not their abilities and years. His Word and my own experience have led me here.
This is just another life thing that requires me to “not lean on my own understanding”, not to listen to worldly wisdom...the wisdom of man...which leads to a ridiculous divorce rate and countless unfulfilling marriages. Nay sayers just aren't going for the same thing in marriage as we are. If they understood that, maybe our silly ways might make a little more sense to them and quell their frustration a bit. Even so...
Soli Deo Gloria.
Happy Anniversary Guy...my beautiful Red Beryl.