In this series which I’ve titled “My Life as the Bride of Christ,” we’re going to look together at a few things that I believe make the marriage relationship unique and how our relationship with Christ is particularly special because we are His bride. You can read parts one, two and three by clicking here.
#4. The marriage relationship is devoted and sacrificial.
My husband Bill and I met in April of 1994, were engaged three months later and then married in December of that same year. In that brief, eight-month time period, Bill became the focus of my life. He’s what I lived for. He’s who I wanted to be with. I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning, talking to him on the phone for hours and hours. I spent countless hours primping and preparing to spend time with him. I rearranged my plans to have the most time possible with him. I wanted to please him and was willing to sacrifice my desires in favor of his. I spent hours writing him love notes and making him goofy little gifts like a reflective coffee mug that said, “Guess Who I Love?” in paint pen with a big circle that would show HIS face.
Our young love was devoted and sacrificial.
But, somehow, as the months and years wore on, the trials and disappointments of my life took their toll. I became increasingly selfish and demanding. He wasn’t doing enough for me. He wasn’t meeting my needs. I no longer wanted to share hours upon hours of time with him, because deep roots of bitterness had taken hold of my heart. My heart grew cold and distant, and I dare say, so did his.
We remained married, but life became more about the checklist of things that had to be done, rather that things that got to be done. I lost my desire to want to please him. I no longer cherished and adored this man. Caring for my marriage became little more than a chore among a long list of chores.
Is that how we see our relationship with God? Have we grown cold? Bitter? Hardened?
Is our time spent with God one chore among a long list of chores?
Do we hunger for him, as a starving beggar on a lonely road in the wilderness?
Do we thirst for Him, as a parched traveler in a desert land?
Do we crave time with him, as a young bride looks forward to the moment her bridegroom will return home from a hard day at work?
Just as sinful human fathers have given us a wrong impression of our perfect heavenly father, so fallen human marriages today have given us a wrong impression of our perfect heavenly groom. Jesus Christ, our adoring, sacrificial husband, longs to spend time with us, His spotless bride, for whom He gave His very life.
Remember what the Lord said to His people in Jeremiah 2:2, “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.” And Revelation 2:4-5a “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. ”
Am I satisfied to just know ABOUT Bill, to study his likes and dislikes, to know his favorite food and sports team, to know facts about him, like when and where he was born and his mother’s maiden name, to know random trivia about him so I can show off how well I know my husband, like what elementary school he went to and how much he weighed when he was 16? Is that good enough for me?
Or, do I really want to KNOW him? Intimately. Personally. Deeply. Do I REALLY want to know what grieves his heart? Do I REALLY want to know what he ACTUALLY thinks about when nobody’s around?
Do I truly want to please him, just because I love him – expecting NOTHING in return? Sacrificially giving up my own desires in deference to his?
This is not supposed to be a talk about “how to love your husband,” though I’m sure we could all use that one, too.
No. This is a talk about “how to love your GOD.”
Friends, we cannot be satisfied by just knowing about God from a distance. We cannot stop at knowing “1001 Facts about God and His Word.” We cannot be satisfied with just being “good bible study girls.” Remember Hosea 6:6, the Lord desires “steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
Do we truly desire to PLEASE God BECAUSE we LOVE Him? Rather than because we think we can (or that we have to) earn His love and approval.
My Jesus loves me so much. He wants to be with me. He wants me to arise and come away with Him. He wants me to willingly choose Him over sleep, over stuff, over other relationships, over the multitude of cares and distractions of the world that want to choke out the fruit-bearing of my life (See Mark 4:18-19)
SO WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR US … How does the fact that The marriage relationship is devoted and sacrificial impact our lives?
For me, what this looks like is largely wrapped up in having a committed, set aside time with God, my Savior, Lord, Father and Husband. Truthfully, the closeness and intimacy and joy of my relationship with God is directly correlated to the quality (and quantity) of time I spend with Him. Just as my relationship with my earthly husband suffers when we aren’t spending time together, so my relationship with God suffers when I am too busy or tired or distracted or stressed to spend time at His feet.
And might I add here that in those times when your daily life with your husband (or with your God) feels like a grind – DO the things you did at first. Do it. Don’t give way to your emotions. Choose to serve your husband with a cheerful, sacrificial heart even when it’s hard.