Today is my wife and my twenty-fourth wedding anniversary. We didn’t do much to celebrate, other than have dinner out and just enjoy some time together. This afternoon I ran out to get a few items to put together a little gift-set for her and while I was doing so I had a chance to think about these years we have spent together since we said our “I do”s.
I don’t think that we, or anyone who marries as young as we did, fully understood our vows when we said them: For better or worse, for richer or poorer, till death do us part. Reflecting upon the time that has passed since we exchanged those sacred vows I now know for certain just how little we truly comprehended them. These years we have faced many “better and worse”, “richer and poorer” situations. Frankly, as I told her earlier today, my wife has by far gotten the short end of the stick with most of these things, with my health problems and my physical disability (twice) putting quite the burden on her quite often over the years. And yet she has stood by and with me. I thank God, not as often as I should though, that He ordained for us to be together. I thank Him for His perfect, sovereign choice of her and I as man and wife.
The Bible teaches us that the church is Christ’s bride; the Christian’s relationship with our Savior is likened to a marriage. Pondering upon this thought today, along with my own marriage to my wonderful wife I realized just how perfect and accurate this simile is. Through out our walk of faith we face many challenges: Illness, financial woes, emotional upheavals, and all the rest that human beings deal with in this fallen world, just as we do in our earthly, physical marriages.
In our physical marriages we have to face the prospect of abandonment and unfaithfulness. Many if not most marriages end in divorce because of these things. But with our spiritual marriage there is no fear of these things, at least not on the Husband’s part. It is true, sadly, that we may walk away from our Groom, choose to be adulterous in this relationship, or end the marriage because of any number of sins that we choose over Christ Jesus. But He will never do that to us; He is always faithful, always present, always loving, and always attentive.
Having endured many hardships in our twenty-four years I know, but can’t say I understand, that people “throw in the towel” on their marriages. Maybe they weren’t in their God-ordained relationship, I don’t know; I believe that God has that one person set aside just for each of us and we can choose to ignore His will in this area, which would likely end poorly, in my thoughts at least. But I think that most earthly marriages end because the are hard work and require a lot of effort, compromise, and communication. Our spiritual marriage is no different in this regard, except we are the only one that will give up, cheat, walk out, whatever you want to call it.
A marriage is a most sacred, precious thing. Seeing this holy union end in divorce is such a sad, hurtful thing, one that makes me wince inside, and sometimes outside, too. But worse still, seeing or hearing of someone ending their relationship with God crushes my heart. The only good thing I can think of about the break up of a spiritual marriage compared to a physical one is that Jesus will always take back a truly repentant and heartbroken spouse: most men or women won’t.