I cannot vouch for the rest of the country, but spring is coming over North Carolina. The mornings are cool and foggy and the days are mild and sunny. It brings back a lot of really good memories into my life of being a child. It’s nice. Spring and summer bring about closeness, and they bring about the desire for love and romance. I sat outside of Starbucks yesterday doing some work and people felt friendlier: they smiled more. Recently, the conversation of love, leadership, and children has been rising to the surface almost everywhere I look, and I believe God is trying to teach me something.
This doesn’t come across in most circles that like to do the song and dance and play the game, but my first priority in life is what God would have of me. This doesn’t mean I sit in the right side of my corner booth, scared of the world, but it means I filter what I do through His lens the best I can. The culture promotes those who don’t take a strong stand and those who are self-centered, but it is way more important to me that I am God’s man, then I appear attractive to anyone.
I can only push these issues back to Him and hope that when I give my life to Him, He’ll meet my needs: which He knows.
The concept of the traditional love story seems to be more and more out of line. Dating follows these lines more often then not: meet, go out, have fun, go out again, have fun, get involved physically and emotionally, secrets emerge and hearts are broken. An older man randomly gave me dating advice two months ago: marry someone who has been your friend for a long time and has grown with you and has seen you in different stages in your life. and it is true. We grow apart when we separate ourselves, but when two grow together, they become inter-twined because they actually know one another more than the surface. But, we become jaded in love because we allow ourselves to fall over bad examples over and over. This is sad because: for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son… (John 3:16), and if it was for love that God came, and marriage His chosen picture, then love is the most sacred act of worship and owes the highest reverence.
As a note, this doesn’t mean one person must know another their whole lives. The lasting aspect of love is found in similar views on faith, family, and convictions: which can only be understood over time. People are great at pretending in the short run, but proving it means living it, and living it means reality. That is what makes love last.
I was driving down the road the other day and listening to Chip Ingram talk about marriage and he was reading from Ephesians and something really hit me hard and blew my mind in a way I had never considered before…
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her […] that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. – Ephesians 5:25, 27
For years, I have misunderstood this verse. I have focused on the sacrifice of life, but not the purpose. If I marry, I accept I may have to give my life for her: I will without question; however, it is unlikely that I will be required to. This verse appears to be more that it must be a man’s utmost desire to cherish her, love her, learn her, and understand how to draw her out and affirm her. She no longer needs to fear any kind of fall or back lash of what the world thinks, because her every effort is sheltered in his sufficient love. This does not mean that she is incompetent or that he is perfect: they are made for each other, and as humans we cannot sanctify one other, but I cannot think of a greater sacrifice a man can give to a woman then to: through leading, serve: as Christ did.
Granted, keep in mind that I am far more concerned with what God asks of a man right now.
The point of the fairy tale is a prince who only seeks his princess and takes her with him. It is not he who transforms her, but rather the presence of unconditional love that allows them both to flourish as it creates an umbrella for them both in the world. Or look to our marriage ceremonies. The groom waits anxiously for his bride, to catch her eyes as she is revealed in the beauty of the wedding. She is revealed to him: and he accepts the responsibility God would ask of the him as a husband. He wears the band as a sign of her fidelity (not his own) and she wears her band as a sign of his fidelity (not her own). The beauty of this story is that it is a promise that is place din the trust of the other: which is why the only Biblical ways from marriage involve betrayal and not loss of interest. This places complete faith and trust in the other.
Why am I even bringing thing up?
For one, it is everywhere, which means God is getting my attention and teaching my heart to love through patience; however, love is an act of worship and so it must be taken seriously, yet beautifully. Love is so mishandled today and we accept it that way. People fall in and out of love all the time, but it shouldn’t be this way. The first step to fixing our world is fixing our hearts, which means tuning them to His and listening; a general life principle is that lies always stay as close to the truth as possible, which means they are often confused. This is only one half of the story though…