Today would have marked five years of blessed marriage to Sarah, but she is now in eternity as the bride of Christ! I spent most of today in devotions, meditation, and reflection on my marriage with Sarah, and I have so much to be grateful for as I recall the joys and trials alike. I have innumerable cherished memories as I recall the depths of love we shared. She was a daily gift from God to me. Her life and death have left an indelible impact on me, so I pray that this continuing dose of searing eternal reality will forever stay with me to spur me on for what God has next.
I am eternally grateful for the way that Sarah built me up in Christ. Her sweet spirit, gentle encouragements, soft suggestions, and fervent prayers on my behalf were grounded in a selfless love and authentic respect. When I felt weak, her faith in me made me strong. When I failed her, her kindness forgave and overlooked it. Every one of my accomplishments was enabled by her girding me up every step of the way. In countless ways her impact lives on!
One of the many beautiful crafts that Sarah made was a framed picture of our marriage vows. As I spent time reading over them again today and thinking over their meaning on both the earthly and heavenly realms, I was struck by the simplicity of how only thirty-four straightforward words convey an eternal weight of meaning. I was talking recently with a friend who also lost his wife, and he remarked how we truly don’t fully know the depth of what those marriage vows meant. Indeed, when Sarah and I recited these vows on that day, we never could have known everything that would transpire turning what we hoped would be a lifetime of living them out into only five years together. What we did do at our wedding though was to promise them in faith knowing that God’s grace would sustain us to keep them. I’ve written before of God’s faithfulness in helping to grow and strengthen that faith through many trials, and by His infinite and boundless grace we lived out our vows for as long as we both lived. In a day in which marriage vows are often so lightly esteemed, may Christians’ lives and marriages reflect what Jesus said in Mark 10:9, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
For those that are married, may I offer some reflections. Treasure your spouse. Outdo one another in showing love. Selflessly sacrifice yourself to serve your spouse. Yet, also remember they are but a gift from God for this brief “mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 1:14) Live with eternity in mind. Husbands, lovingly shepherd your wife’s heart that you may both set your “mind on things above.” (Col. 3:2) Wives, build up your husbands in love and respect to be that man.
For those not married, live out these same principles to those God has put in your life. If your desire is to be married, be intentional now about developing those characteristics in your life. Be intentional to “make the best use of the time” (Eph. 5:16), for when marriage comes your sin and selfishness now have a double impact on you and your spouse.
“Being married in the moment of death is both a bitter and sweet providence. Sweet because at the precipice of eternity the air is crystal-clear, and you see more plainly than ever the precious things that really matter about your imperfect lover. But being married at death is also bitter, because the suffering is doubled as one watches the other die …. The shadow of covenant-keeping between husband and wife gives way to the reality of covenant-keeping between Christ and His glorified Church. Nothing is lost. The music of every pleasure is transposed into an infinitely higher key.” – John Piper in “This Momentary Marriage”
“Marriage is more than your love for each other …. In your love you see only the heaven of your happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal — it is a status, and office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the King, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer