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Grace Notes

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ON LOVE, COURTSHIP, AND MARRIAGE
by Philip Owen

                My wife never nags.  That is high praise, but I believe it to be well deserved.  Earlier today, I was reminded of this and other virtuous qualities she possesses.  Those thoughts led to others—chiefly concerning repairs that I have been unable or unwilling to make.  I berated myself for jumping to work when friends or acquaintances ask me to help with their projects while putting off the tasks on the home front.  I remembered that idealistic time of dating and courtship—a time when no request was too insignificant to be noticed and addressed and no charge too great to be attempted, a time when the high cost of being pleasing was a pleasant price to pay and when intense interest meant ‘round-the-clock devotion to her whims and wishes.

               Few, but blessed, are the marriages that maintain this stratospheric level of relationship beyond the first few years of marriage.  It is not without significance, therefore, that believers are referred to as being engaged to the Lord, or, as Paul states it:  “I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin” (II Cor. 11:2b).  Our relationship with the Lord should be the heady, happy, expectant relationship of the fiancée for her husband-to-be.  No demand should seem unreasonable; every request should be met with joy as an opportunity to express that deep and undying love that courses through our veins.  Figuratively, the infinitive, to betroth means “to woo.”  How exciting, how flattering (in a genuine and positive way) it is for a young woman to be wooed, to realize that someone is interested enough in her to place unusually great demands upon his own time and energy to attract, entertain, and satisfy the one he loves.  And how the wooer’s devotion fans the flame of devotion in the wooed.  The Lord condescends so to woo us.  He offers us twenty-four-hour attention, hears and answers our every request, and expends His interest and energy on or behalf.  What callous ingrates we must be if we do not respond with ardent love for and devotion to Him.  How heinous a crime to spurn His precious overtures of love.

               But the church is also identified as the Bride of Christ.  Bridehood.  That time when anticipation melts into realization and finds fulfillment.  Bridehood.  Pleasant days of continuing discovery.  Days, also, of willing and arduous service.  And what new wife does not find great joy in bending her will to that of her husband:  “There are three things which are too wonderful for me,” writes Solomon, and the third is “the way of a man with a maid” (Pro. 30:18a, 19b).  What a blessed privilege it will be to be wed to the Lord, to know Him, to discover and bask in His love.  Even now, we enjoy a rich foretaste of that relationship.  “This mystery is great,” Paul exclaims, “but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32).  Naturally speaking, bridehood describes that newly-married period when everything is fresh and thrilling.  It is like that wonderful time when someone is no longer dreaming about owning a new car but is actually driving it, before the first fender scratch appears or the first muddy shoe smears the floor mat.   So it should be with our relationship with Christ:  the glorious freshness should never wear off.

               Another point, however, needs to be made:  the love in a godly marriage does not grow thin or brittle with age; rather it deepens and widens.  The melodies acquire harmonies.  The one-stringed banjo finally receives it full complement of ten strings.  There come in the aging of a marriage a knowledge and wisdom that bring an increasing union that, as with Siamese twins, the life of the one is in the life of the other.  So it is with the Lord and the His Bride.  Ours is not a frothy, superficial relationship built only for time.  No, we will understand, appreciate, and, hence, love our Lord more and more into eternity.  For not even eternity will exhaust the expanse of His love for us.  And with our new nature freed from our old depravity, not even eternity will drain the extent of our response to that love.  Surely, if eternity cannot extinguish the love of Jesus Christ for his Bride, we ought to be motivated to serve Him with love and faithfulness for the few short days that we spend here.

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