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The Meaning of Marriage

I was so overwhelmed with the response from my last post about the realities of marriage that I thought I would continue on this theme. Now that I think about it, I do have a lot stored up in me on the topic of marriage. Again, not because I think we’ve made it in any way at all, but simply because we’re on the journey and are committed to the ups and downs for life. As I started writing this post I began with a very specific topic in mind, but as I wrote, something completely different began to flow out of me. So I’ve scrapped my original work and gone with this instead! I don’t even know how to commence these thoughts; it came out of a description of what I see as the ultimate goal and purpose of marriage and how we can succeed in marriage – not just get by without divorcing, but actually flourish, thrive and bear fruit! I may have bitten off more than I can chew with this title(!), but I’m at least going to attempt to scratch the surface…

As we sat down in a beautiful restaurant last week to celebrate our 11th Wedding Anniversary (yes, kid free! Thanks grandparents!), we became engrossed in conversation about our marriage. We had more than five hours together as we spoke about our past, our present and most importantly, our future. We reminded ourselves of why we are together, what our purposes are, where we are going, who we are here for, and what our vision is. Yes, we have a vision for our marriage! It gives us clarity and focus, it gives us meaning and significance, it gives us direction and purpose, it gives us hope and it continually reminds us that everything is worth it in the end. We have some specific things in our vision for our marriage, but in general it could probably be summed up in one simple phrase…

We want to reign in our marriage.

We want to reign in life actually, but marriage is a particularly major area as we can’t be separated from it individually and it affects our family, our children, our home, our surroundings. While having a vision of reigning in marriage may conjure up images of two people who think they’ve nailed it and are putting themselves up on a pedestal being all prideful at how good they are at it….it’s actually the opposite! Reigning in marriage is not simply being ‘successful’, but thriving and producing fruit as we victoriously battle and conquer everything that is thrown at us along the way. And there is a LOT of that! Reigning in marriage is a lifelong journey, which we can all succeed at in any place along the way, and which there isn’t an actual destination here on earth. Reigning in marriage is continually pursuing and living the design and example God has given us and set before us. And that example is the ultimate union between Jesus and his Bride.

Reigning in marriage is a lifelong journey, which we can all succeed at in any place along the way, and which there isn’t an actual destination here on earth

Two become one here on earth in order to pursue one vision because it is a reflection of what was created before the beginning of time….a Lover betrothed to his Bride awaiting the Wedding Day where they will be bound together for all eternity. And although we are still in the engagement period, the Bride is preparing herself for her groom. The Bridegroom is coming back for a spotless and pure Bride. In her Father’s eyes she has already been made pure by the blood of the Saviour, she is already righteous through Jesus Christ, but she needs to know that! She needs to become that! She needs to rise up in her true identity as the Daughter of the King, and grow into who her Father already says she is. This is the Bride that our Bridegroom is coming back for!

Reigning in marriage is continually pursuing and living the design and example God has given us and set before us. And that example is the ultimate union between Jesus and his Bride

This image is exactly what needs to be at the forefront of our minds as we journey through our own marriage. We need to remember that our earthly union is a reflection of the ultimate heavenly union, the ultimate marriage, working towards the ultimate wedding day that will see us joined with our Lover for eternity. When we have our Saviour in mind, when we live with eternity in our hearts and when we live from the throne room of heaven to earth, it really does put everything into perspective. How petty do our silly little arguments seem when we have the big picture at hand?!?!?!

It’s no wonder the enemy tries to attack the union of marriage. He knows it is a foretaste and a representation of the Great Marriage of Eternity. If he can destroy this union which is a reflection of our union with Christ, then he can wreak as much havoc here on earth, in this life, that holds the Bride back – telling her lies of her unworthiness, how unlovable she is, how stained and tainted she is. Or perhaps lies of pride – you’re better than this person, you’re better than this marriage, he/she is holding you back in life, he/she doesn’t treat you as well as you deserve to be treated. Whatever end of the scale his tactics fall on, it’s all lies. And it’s all to destroy this heavenly goal. It may seem like a huge leap, but really, if the enemy can destroy marriages here on earth, then he thinks he’s destroying the Kingdom of God. Well, he knows he can’t destroy it, but he is certainly going to do everything possible to hinder, slow and prevent the godly, powerful, righteous, bold, passionate, faithful men and women of God from building it up and shining His light.

And that’s exactly it. That’s the goal of marriage here on earth. When we reign in life, when we reign in marriage, we are shining a bright light. We are the city on the hill that we are called to be – because Jesus is that light and that city. When He shines brightly from within us and within our marriages, he shines his HOPE to all around us. It gives hope to the couple who are on the verge of separation. It gives hope to the wife who thinks she can’t keep going, it gives hope to the husband who knows he has to rise up for the sake of his family. It gives hope to the unmarried man or women to realise that marriage in today’s day and age isn’t just some traditional, outdated, institution, but a real life-breathing, life-giving, thriving and overflowing union of LOVE.
It gives hope to child from a broken home that their story can be completely different. When we reign in our marriage we shine a beacon of HOPE to all around us.

When we reign in our marriage we shine a beacon of HOPE to all around us

Reigning in our marriage isn’t about being the best, but believing for the best and making a decision to do whatever it takes on our behalf to continually work towards that goal. It isn’t about being on show or pretending we have it all together. People aren’t stupid, they see through that. It’s just about living naturally the way God has called each of us to live, and He will shine His light through us. We will naturally overflow when our focus and desire is on Him. I find in my life and through our marriage that we actually overflow more powerfully when we show that we are real. Just real. “Oh, you guys have arguments too?!” Um, yes. “Oh you guys want to kill each other too?” Some days. “Oh you guys have financial pressures and stresses of kids on your relationship too?” Uhuh! “Oh you guys have had those same temptations in your face as well?” Better believe it.

Being the city on the hill isn’t about being perfect and flaunting the perfect marriage and life. Jesus is that light and He shines through us. And He best shines his light when we are surrendered to him…our weaknesses and failings are often what speaks to people most profoundly, because it’s real. It’s relatable. And it shows that we are just normal people, BUT the power at work within us comes from a true, living and amazing God. It gives hope to the hopeless.

The city on the hill shines it’s light, drawing the lost towards safety and security. The Light lights the path, it shows the way to all those lost in the darkness, fumbling for a way forward, trying to lay hold of anything they can grasp in the shadows. The light first captures their attention, and then if they follow that light, it guides them to safety, to security, and most importantly, to the Source.

So, let your light shine! Let the glory of Jesus shine through the cracks of your marriage and the imperfections of your life! Let those around you see the reality that they can have hope and be drawn to to the glory of the light, wherever they are on the journey. Don’t be discouraged that your marriage isn’t perfect…it will never be. BUT, your Bridegroom is coming back for His beautiful Bride! While you may question and doubt how your life or marriage could even possibly overflow with hope to those around you, or shine His light to penetrate the bleak darkness, just remember that He is using you, right now, weaknesses, failings, brokenness, real-ness and all, as you are being transformed from glory to glory.

The best way we can reign in our marriage is to remember that in the end, it’s actually not about us! It’s an example to everyone in our life – our children, our families, our friends, our colleagues, our neighbours, our city – as we overflow with hope and as we shine His light for all to see. And in doing so we reflect the love He has towards us, and those who witness that love in our life are themselves, offered a beautiful wedding invitation, no…a personal and intimate marriage proposal, for the greatest love story that ever exists.