“Two is better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! … And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him- a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” -Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
When I look at Mark I see a gift. One that I will never deserve or earn. It is in these moments that my thoughts tend to linger on my own actions. Thoughts that reveal how many of my actions are done vacantly and empty of the love of Christ. It truly allows me to recall a multitude of moments of just walking through each day without being fully engaged, without serving others wholeheartedly and with thoughts too self-concerned. God has used this God-fearing and desiring man to unveil darkness in my heart and areas in desperate need for growth. What a picture of grace.
Mark is faithful and steadfast, and constantly reminds me that we are in God’s hands and he is perfectly in control. He reminds me that we are divinely placed exactly where we are for an exact purpose that is unfolding. He never fails to remind me that our affliction is so light and so momentary. With patient ears and a heart slow to speak he constantly grows my view of eternity. This man holds my hand through every valley. He lovingly helps me through each day even when we may not see earthly good in the steps we are to take. From the moment he wakes, he serves. I tremble before God because I cannot understand why he hand-picked me for him.
Mark is a gift of accountability. One that never fails to lovingly show me the areas in my life that are heart breaking to our Father. He reveals to me how my heart is self-centered, worldly, and even God-neglecting at times in my thoughts and words. He does so primarily by his own actions that represent a servant of God that the LORD has called us to be as his children.
I strive to try to grasp why me- a vile, filthy and finite sinner would be counted worthy for such a gift in Mark. Here is where the LORD is teaching me otherwise. Mark is indeed a gift. One that is of grace and nothing earned in the work of my hands or merit. He is an unearned and undeserved gift the Father has foreknown and predestined. A gift that is only for furthering the Kingdom of God and serving his people alongside each other. One that is purposed only for growth in eternal weight in the LORD’s plan to redeem his people.
Who is sufficient of these things?
Not me and not him. It is a gift that is one hundred percent, fully of grace and mercy.
However, this question has been present in my mind increasingly more as there is a beautiful ring on my finger. How on earth could I be counted worthy and sufficient to be loved by a man like this? Here is just the thing. I sit in reverence as I read the word of God and try to grasp the price that Christ paid on the cross. A price that bought his children for eternity. A price that was sacrificial, purifying and sustaining. A covenant that cannot be broken. On June 30, 2018 Mark and I will meet at the end of the isle to vow for the rest of our lives as elect exiles on earth. My feeble brain cannot even grasp that we will be entering a marriage covenant before GOD. One that calls us to love one another sacrificially and purifying as Christ loves his bride, and in submission as we adhere our full allegiance to God.
We cannot love in a way that honors and glories in Christ in our own flesh, for we have no good apart from him. Christ alone enables us to love in a way that is honoring to him. A love that is sacrificial and purifying in response to the sacrificial love that was displayed on the cross where we were bought at an unfading price- the precious blood of Christ.
However, just as the Corinthian Church, we too are not immune to the temptations of the flesh. We naturally are quick to speak and slow to listen. We are naturally quick to anger and bitterness, and to slow to gracefully love. But this is the beauty of walking alongside Christ together. For we can only begin to love another in a God-honoring, Christ-exalting and grace-giving manner with God’s pardoning, transforming and sustaining grace in our lives.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another, forgiving each other; as the LORD has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all else put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.” -Colossians 3:12-15
Reverence- my heart overflows with reverence for a Father who has lovingly lavished on us the precious gift of each other. Reverence for a Father who gave us both eyes to see and ears to hear and a heart of flesh that longs to glory in him together. The two people that we are now are very different than the two who began dating over a year ago. With gratitude and pure love for God, with knowledge and wisdom from Christ alone, we can experience growth in service to each other and others. Only as we are fully rooted and established in Christ will our love for each other bear the fruit of the spirit to which we are called to live according to. As we continue to deny and throw off the areas of our hearts that are entangled by sin and displeasing to God, we begin to understand our purpose together before our Father and his Kingdom that cannot be shaken. 365 days until we meet the day that the love of God has granted to us.
“The greatness and glory of marriage is beyond our ability to think or feel without divine revelation and without the illumination and awakening work of the Holy Spirit. The world cannot know what marriage is without learning it from God. The natural man does not have the capacities to see or receive or feel the wonder of what God has designed marriage to be.” -John Piper