Last week the husband and I reached 14 years of marriage. I’ve wanted to write something, but I’ve struggled with the words. In the past I have botched my marriage so badly that I often feel I don’t have a right to say anything about marriage. Our precious friends Lance and Lori shared a bit of their story at church and reminded me that there’s no such thing as a perfect marriage, and God can redeem anything.
Years ago (before kids) we were stationed in Arizona and Brandon was at military intelligence school. He called me at work one day and told me that he would be bringing a Major from the Yemen Army home with him for dinner. What?!
I rushed home and prepared an elaborate meal. I was quite pleased with myself given the short notice.
Brandon and the Yemeni officer arrived and we ate. Dinner was great and if my mother had been there she would have said, “Girl, you put your foot in it!” (That is the highest compliment you can give a cook, I promise.) At the end of the meal I told our guest that we would have to have him over again soon. I, a bundle of false humility, explained that the meal had not been my best. After all I had not had much time to prepare…
I expected assurances that I was da bomb cook, but he looked at his plate critically as if he were Tom Colicchio. He finally sighed and said in his thick accent, “I give you ‘nother chance.”
After he left Brandon and I howled with laughter. It’s a family joke to this day.
“What we believe about God determines the quality of our marriage.”
Our story is no romance novel. It’s swung from high to low and back again and been marked by years of struggle, disagreements, laughter, loneliness, joy, and deep hurt. It boggles my mind (and also makes perfect sense) that God uses this – marriage – as his showcase of Christ’s love for us, all of us. The gospel truth is that we fail. That we hurt His heart. That He bears it all. That He forgives. That He will never, ever leave.
I’m so thankful Brandon believed this about God. At a point when we could have been called irreparable, when I was not the wife he even recognized anymore, he believed enough in that stubborn grace of God to reach out a hand to me: “I give you ‘nother chance. Will you give me ‘nother chance, too?”
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” ~Psalm 4:8
We’re learning. We get to practice every day – even when our “best” tastes supremely bad – how to be grace-givers. And even though I am not good, God’s goodness comes to me. Most sweetly and completely in the form of my dear husband.
Gary and Betsy Ricuchi, Love That Lasts: When Marriage Meets Grace (Crossway, 2006), pp. 22-23:
- Because of the gospel, Christians have become new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). Therefore, in our marriage, our past does not define us, confine us, or determine our future.
- Because of the gospel, we are forgiven (Ephesians 1:7). Therefore we can live free of all guilt and condemnation for every sin, and we can trust that God, in his mercy, will be gracious to us.
- Because of the gospel, we can forgive, just as Christ forgave us (Ephesians 4:32). Nothing done against us compares to our sin against God. Therefore all offenses, hostility, and bitterness between Christians can be completely forgiven and removed.
- Because of the gospel, we are accepted by God (Romans 15:7). Therefore we are not dependent on a spouse for who we are or what we need.
- Because of the gospel, sin’s ruling power over us is broken (Romans 6:6, 14). Therefore we can truly obey all that God calls us to do in our marriage, regardless of any circumstance or situation.
- Because of the gospel, we have access to God through Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16). Therefore we can at any time take any need in our marriage to the One who can do all things.
- Because of the gospel, we have hope (Romans 5:1-4). Therefore we can endure any marital difficulty, hardship, or suffering, with the assurance that God is working all to our greatest good (Romans 8:28).
- Because of the gospel, Christ dwells in us by his Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:13-14). Therefore we are confident that God is always with us and is always at work in our marriage, even when progress is imperceptible (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
- Because of the gospel, we have power to fight and overcome remaining sin, which continues to dwell and war within us (Romans 7:19-21, 24-25; Galatians 5:16-17).
These are just a few of the ways the gospel can transform a marriage. Sometimes it’s not easy to live in the reality of these truths. But it is always possible—and not because of our strength or determination, but because of God’s empowering and enabling grace.