Today we celebrate the gift of marriage, today we stop and intentionally kiss longer the one our soul loves; today we give thanks for the gift of marriage!
Today is special too, because it's Monday, the day this space is dedicated to give thanks to the Lord for His never ending mercies, so today, I give thanks for the gift God has given my dear friend, Elizabeth, a gift with words and and a passionate love for The Word.
Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing today with us.
|Still life with glassware and porcelain covered bowl, Willem Kalf 1662|
Marriage is like handblown glass, delicate in substance but strong in construction. It can hold the vintage of years gone by. A cup blessed and preserved by God.
While love is as strong as death, marriage is fragile if only for the fact that two fallen individuals, a man and a woman brought together as one, commit to an exclusive bond for the rest of their days, come what may. Knowing that a covenant designed by God has His backing brings much-needed assurance.
But no marriage is unlike the first, where sin crept in to take its toll. Adam and Eve endured the worst — one son murdered the other, with God presiding as Witness and Judge. I imagine that as parents, partners and lovers, they fell into each other's arms that night, searching for consolation from an unbearable wound, already aware that bitter herbs change the taste of things.
What keeps a marriage? Sustains it through life's trials, cares and woes? Certainly not the froth left over from an elaborate wedding ceremony. As exciting and wonderful as the customary fanfare, wedding attire, rich foods, lavish gifts and honeymoon are, eventually helium dissipates, styles change, dishes break and pictures fade. None last, except perhaps in memories, a grace given when clouds ensue. And when they do, the strength of man proves weak indeed.
And apart from inviting family and friends to witness the ceremony and share in the festivities, what compels a man and a woman to stand before a crowd and declare that they will stay together, "to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part?"
Only the nearness of God.
Our culture trends toward having the greater focus be on the wedding event — the more outlandish the better — ceremony only secondary to the trappings.Whether staged in a desert, on a rollercoaster, suspended from bungee cords or underwater, it's all but forgotten that when vows are exchanged, God is the unseen Officiate. Even Christians need reminding of this in a day when selfishness runs rampant in the streets, and "freedom of choice" seeks to permeate our thinking to the point of abandoning all reason for the sake of pleasure and the pursuit of happiness. As comforting and wonderful as marriage can be, it's ultimately a sacrifice and a crucible and less often a pleasure dome.
Without strong Biblical encouragement, we leave ourselves open to temptation by subtly diminishing the gift He sewed into the fabric of society to remind us of the mystery between Christ and the Church:
Ultimately, marriage is for the glory of God. It's not about happiness as much as it's about holiness as He works through life's circumstances to mold and shape us, conforming us into His image. Not only this, but He's the third strand in the cord, serving as our strength and very present help. He whose eye is upon the hearts of all men isn't blind. He sees every sacrifice, gesture, trial, hardship, desire, hope and dream. And He collects every tear in His bottle, storing them up in remembrance, keeping watch on the covenant made in His Name.
So lift up your marital cup to the Lord. Reflect through the glass on His faithfulness and the memories you've made, even the ones that stretched you in all directions, and ask yourself, "By Whose design?" Then bow lower still. Bless the partner of your youth by recounting your vows and enjoying one another. Understand that God is just as near today as He was when you both stood upon the altar before a future unknown — except for certain grey hair.
And remember that the cup belongs to Him. Ever the expert viticulturist patient to make perfect the bouquet of a fortified wine, let Him refresh it, fill it anew, pour out a blessing. Savor the long finish. He reserves the best for last.
Details on Painting
©Elizabeth DeBarros. If you wish to use these lines please contact the author at Finding the Motherlode