What’s the secret to everlasting love in marriage?
The Beautiful Short Answer: God Himself.
The Long Answer:
My husband and I were engaged at 22, considered too young in our modern American culture. As our wedding approached many of my peers asked: Are you ready? Are you scared? Interestingly, the second question arose more.
What is there to fear about marriage? Our modern world has created two unnecessary dreads that hinder commitment:
1. Loss of Freedom
The first fear reflects our natural, but often harmful, desire for independence and youth.
Marriage is seen as passage into adulthood, and more and more individuals wish to delay this, falling into the current ideology that we all need to “find ourselves” before anything else. Although young people are known to idolize romance, more and more are idolizing their career.
The issue with this is many are seeking to “find themselves” before finding Christ. In the effort to find our dreams, are we avoiding God-honoring responsibilities and callings, such as the life-giving relationship of marriage? That depends on what you are pursuing in your singleness.
Are you finding yourself in the works of God, or in the cares of this temporary world? In worrying about being tied down by marriage, many young people are missing out on a wonderful means to growing in Christ’s love.
The second fear reveals the sad reality that for many the marriage institution is no longer a statement of love “until death due us part.”
Despite the promises made at the altar, the “love” based on passion and compatibility, rather than of selflessness and honor, quickly fades away when storms come.
God never desires this division to happen. When two become one, man must not separate such a sacred, spiritual union.
The problem is our society has lost sight of the truth that God is love, and He is the foundation on which marriage is to be built. His love is in unbreakable. His love is not based on human feeling, which flits and flutters away, but holy and unchanging compassion.
With this said, returning to people’s first question, was I ready for marriage?
I do not think anyone technically is. Devoting your life to someone else is full of unknowns yet to be encountered. However, like devoting yourself to Christ, the road ahead may be invisible but steps of faith create a beautiful journey.
If anything, readiness for marriage comes from gathering a deep understanding of Christ’s love, and being set on following His selfless example.
Isaias and I have no idea what challenges we will face, but we know that complete reliance upon Christ will enable us to reconcile any differences and overcome any trials. Wedding vows are easier said than done, and in the dark days of marriage our personal loyalty to God will hold us steadfast no matter the degree of pain.
God is the Creator of marriage, and He designed it to reflect the Gospel – the ultimate display of sacrificial and transcendent love. As a married woman, I am encouraged time and time again by God’s Word, because the Lord illustrates the beauty of matrimony through His own faithful relationship with His people.
Just look at this passage about His relationship to Israel:
“For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is His name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth He is called.
For the Lord has called you like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your God. For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you.
In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord, your Redeemer. Isaiah 54:5-8
In this beautiful passage, God likens himself as the husband – a leader with incredible love for his wife. Although the wife, God’s people, has fallen into sin and dismayed God, He returns to her in undeserved forgiveness and unquenchable compassion.
While God is right in being disappointed with “His wife” and corrects her, He cannot stay away for long and showers her in unshakable affection. He is the eptimoe of everlasting love.
Isaias and I pray that as spouses we will emulate this amazing picture. Isaias will seek to love me as Christ loves His people, and I will seek to love him in the same way as his wife.
As the husband, Isaias will guide our family toward God, and I will lovingly follow, inform, and support that direction as the wife (Ephesians 5:22-33). Our roles are clearly ordained and balanced.
Tensions may rise due to sin, and miscommunication may create waves, but knowledge of God’s love will calm the unpredictable waters of our marriage as it spurs us on to mutual forgiveness and growth.
Let each and every one of us – whether married or single – remember the dynamic compassion God has for us, and let it inspire us to mirror that love to Him and others:
“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10