The Great Mystery

One of the greatest privileges of my life is to be a wife. Four-and-a-half years ago I paid my vows to a man that had utterly captured my heart and swept me off my feet. We were married, moved cross-country and 13 months later had our first child settled in a home of our own. Talk about changes! But in spite of the drastic transformation of our life circumstances, the most significant metamorphosis occurred in our hearts. No longer two, but one. No longer independent, but interdependent. No longer hidden and private, but utterly naked and exposed to the other. Beautiful…and terrible, all at the same time.

Quite literally, Matthew and I rode off into the sunset (or flew, rather)…away from our wedding reception in a hot air balloon. Newly married with all the ideology of young love, we were on top of the world, living out our own real life fairy-tale. But life doesn’t end at sunsets. That night simply marked the end of Two, and in the new mercies of the morning after, we began life as One.

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh…”

We had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into, but God certainly did. And I’m thankful for our blissful innocence over the mighty vows we made. With childlike faith we walked unknowingly into a fire that is even today purging our souls. Like the sunset we rode into, marriage is the portal into the Fire of God’s unrelenting passion to purge us of selfishness and sin. Thawing our cold, dark hearts, we are filled with light and consuming passion to love as He loves.

Suddenly, I was no longer allowed to keep my body, my thoughts, or my dreams to myself. Suddenly someone else had equal ownership over it all – and I over his. Suddenly, I had to surrender. Surrender to the prospect of pain, for the hope of Love.

“…this is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31-32).

Over the days, months and few years thus far that have followed, we’ve had our share of conflicts, misunderstandings, hurt feelings, disrespectful words and unloving reactions. But through the silence, the emotional distance, and the tearful discussions, we discovered something shocking: Love is not meant to be without pain. Neither is Love the experience of euphoric happiness, as Hollywood deceptively portrays.

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

Prior to marriage, I had various untested opinions. One of these was that conflict equated to failure. Failure to communicate rightly, failure to love, failure to be perfect. But God does not invite perfect people into this journey called Love. He invites the broken, the weak, the ones who don’t know what they are doing, but are willing to ask for help. So he calls out a man and brings to him a woman, commands them to Love…and then creates situations between them of conflict, trial and pain so they will know how to suffer long, choose not to be provoked, overcome the impulse to behave rudely, be compelled to bear all things, hope all things, endure all things. Love is not Love unless it is tested and tried. And when it is tested, Love never fails.

“…this is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”

I love to talk about my marriage. I love to be best friends with the man I call Husband – to bear his children and partner with him in raising our growing family. But the real reason I write to you today is to inspire you to see your own marriage not simply as two people going through life together, but to realize that the power of what it is that you are doing! For better or for worse, you are living in an earthly analogy of an eternal reality.

Jesus is coming back. He is a Bridegroom, He is a King, and He is coming to claim His Bride, that she may rule and reign with Him from everlasting to everlasting. This is not just poetry; this is true prophecy of a conflict that will shake the nations and at long last bring forth justice in the earth. When this God-Man returns, He will set up His kingdom and establish righteousness in a world that hated Him, and those that said ‘yes’ to His Love – they will win the right to be His Bride, and be yoked to Him as His eternal companion.

This hidden life that we lead, fellow women – this unnoticed, ill-appreciated task of home-making as wives and mothers – will not remain hidden forever. How we surrender to Love in this life makes all the difference in our eternal standing before the Throne. Like Esther, will you choose to beautify yourself and cleanse your heart to one day be chosen as His Queen? Out of undying Love for us, Jesus Christ died on a cross, despising the shame for the joy set before Him of one day being united with His Bride. His death and resurrection has given us everything we need to love as He loved!

We won’t do it perfectly, but if we realize this thing called ‘marriage’ is about so much more than two broken people, and is in fact a reflection of the Glory yet to come, don’t you think it would change us? Don’t you think the reward of eternity would motivate us to love more selflessly when we are wronged against, misunderstood, spoken to harshly or rudely, accused falsely, hurt or lacking in affection and tenderness from our spouses? And don’t you think that a fiery marriage devoted to reflecting the beauty of the Marriage to come would melt the cold hearts of a world frozen by sin and selfishness? Don’t you think our children would reap the blessings?

“…by this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

“…this is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”

Let’s love God – and change the world – by loving the man we married. Let’s give the world a tiny glimpse into the beauty of the Wedding yet to come.