I probably would’ve started with this, but I really wanted to write the piece on effort and commitment first. One of the things that we teach our children culturally about romance and marriage is that there is this ‘one’ out there who is perfect for you. The one. Many Christians believe it based on the idea that God has a perfect will for your life, more on that in a bit. I have only been married once, to my wife Karin and we’ve been married for 22 years. It would be easy for me to say that she’s ‘the one’ and that I chose wisely while all of you people struggling with marital issues obviously weren’t listening to God; easy but wrong.
First of all, God’s complete will for our lives is a mystery. He doesn’t tell us where we will be in ten years or ten days or even ten minutes. Oh sometimes we get to see the road, but mostly? He remains silent on the long-term issue of our destiny. Why? Because He wants us to live by faith in Him. Also God, if you accept this concept at all, is eternal; outside of time. God has no beginning and no ending, no yesterday and no tomorrow except as it relates to our understanding. For God, it’s always right now. When He does things He does them at exactly the right time, but He is not subject to that concept. The ‘fullness of time’ and ‘in His time’ are words the Spirit uses to ease our understanding. God see’s the big picture all at once, right now, so He’s not experiencing things with our timetable. With Him it’s not about when something happens, it’s about whether or not the right thing happens and for us, time is part of that equation. It also explains why the Spirit will lead us a certain direction and then suddenly seem to change His mind, happens in scripture as well, God lives outside of past and present so yesterday has no bearing on Him, but that’s another blog subject.
Back to marriage. Some of you might argue that the romantic ideal of a destined partner brings beauty and nobility to marriage. Maybe it does, I’m not sure. I think there may be a better way, one more in tune with the truth about yesterday, today and tomorrow. We celebrate yearly anniversaries of our marriages, that’s not a bad thing. I have pictures and videos and wonderful memories of that day! I loved it! But now? In reality that day is a memory, a shadow of an event. It no longer exists. Does that concept invade your thinking? Upset your apple cart? The past is lost to us, we live today.
But some would say that the past is important! It is a reminder of the commitment we made. Well, that’s true, but consider: We made a commitment to each other 22 years ago! I think it’s awesome that couples hang on to those commitments for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years or more, but commitment doesn’t keep you warm on cold nights. Commitment doesn’t stand by you in crisis! Commitment doesn’t help you raise kids and give you something to work for. Those beautiful vows are in the past and don’t exist in the now. (Keep reading, I’ll draw this together in a cool way, I promise, right now anyway…)
In the same way, the future doesn’t exist! It is not promised us in any way! Oh, I know that God has promised to take care of us, and I trust Him, but I trust Him to be true to His nature and purpose in me. I surrendered my will to Him so tomorrow is a huge mystery! That includes my marriage. I think it will be awesome to grow old with Karin watching our children make their way into the world, expectantly waiting for Grandkids to spoil. But I have no guarantees! God has His plans and my life is subject to His will. (If you are reading this and are not a disciple of Jesus, insert fate, chance, circumstance what have you. It’s a poor reflection but leads to the same existential conclusion on this subject.)
I only have today. Have I mentioned that despite all of these things I have written I am a hopeless romantic? Here’s why I can say that and not have to accept the ‘one perfect person for me’ theory. I made those vows on June 2, 1989 to be with my wife until death did us part. That was a long time ago. The truth about marriage is that I have to choose to be Karin’s husband every day, right now. If she’s just who I’m stuck with, whom I committed to, who holds the contracts on my life, that’s sad and pathetic. But if I look at every day of my marriage as a choice to be married to her every day. every moment, that changes everything. Now I’m not relying on cultural standards and legalistic jargon to live my covenant, I’m relying on the most potent thing God gave me, free will. He gave us free will so we could choose to love Him and each other. Love is impossible without it. I choose to love. I choose to be my wife’s husband. I choose to raise my family. Not chose, no, those days are gone, but choose, right now. and now. and now. How beautiful is that?
Married folks, tomorrow morning when you first look at your spouse, lying asleep or preparing for the day, choose. Say, “I choose you today,” because that’s what counts and that’s what brings beauty to marriage. Is today better or worse? I choose. I do. Is today in sickness or health? I choose. I do. Am I angry? Do I need to forgive? I choose. I do. This is why we have to say, “I love you,” so much, yesterdays words are just so much air. Tomorrows words are unsaid.
Single folks, consider the journey before you begin. Every day you must be ready to renew your vows. Every day of the journey you will have to look at that person and love them for who they are right now.
Of course, these concepts aren’t reserved for marriage. It fits with every commitment and responsibility in my life. I choose to be mother or father or brother or sister. We choose to love and be committed every day, every moment. The ‘one’ is every person in every circumstance that God has given you to love towards Him.