Katie and I are reading The Meaning of Marriage by Tim and Kathy Keller with our small group. Here’s an encouraging excerpt from Chapter 1 – The Secret of Marriage – that we found helpful two months into our marital journey.
As a pastor I have spoken to thousands of couples, some working on marriage-seeking, some working on marriage-sustaining, and some working on marriage-saving. I’ve heard them say over and over, “Love shouldn’t be this hard. . . Love should just come naturally if two people are compatible, if they are truly soul mates.”
The Christian answer to this is that no two people are compatible. Duke University ethics professor Stanley Hauerwas has famously made this point:
“Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become “whole” and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough we will find the right person. This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage. It fails to appreciate the fact that we always marry the wrong person.
We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary problem is . . . learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.”
Hauerwas shows that the quest for a perfectly compatible soul mate is an impossibility. Marriage brings you into more intense proximity to another human being than any other relationship can. Therefore, the moment you marry someone, you and your spouse begin to change in profound ways, and you can’t know ahead of time what those changes will be. So you don’t know, you can’t know, who your spouse will actually be in the future until you get there.
→ Keller, Timothy and Kathy. (2011) The Meaning of Marriage (pp. 37-38). Dutton Adult.
I highly recommend this message for any and all of us who have doubted our salvation.
45 years and still going [and looking] strong!
Thanks for your commitment to each other and to Jesus.
[updated pic below for hair comparison…]
Meagan reaches the 16 year mark today and what a crazy, fun trek it’s been! A zesty mixture of grit, peculiarity, and beauty, she’s a one-of-a-kind girl who will push her way [and her opinions!] right into your personal space and then insert some random insight that creates philosophical banter out of conflict. Her tenacity is the stuff of legend, such that I feel compelled to crown her on this, her 16th birthday, “la chica más interesante en el mundo.”
Meagan, I love the way you grind…and debate…and negotiate…and laugh…and worship! I love the way God made you [inside and out]…and gifted you…and challenges you…and died to make you His. And I love how you keep striving to know Him…and love Him…and find your joy…and security…and identity in Him. And I hope you will never abandon your soul-deep need to run hard after Jesus. And I pray you will discover over and over that He will never abandon His blood-bought pursuit of you.
“Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus in John 15:5
I love you!
Meagan – The Early Years
Meagan – The Enlightened Years
Meagan and Peeps
Meagan and Peeps Too
Meagan and the Gentlemen
“The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statutes!” Psalm 119:64
I’m back in Texas for a week to reconnect with family and friends, chase the golf ball, and sample the new menu at Whataburger. Not exactly a bucket list but close. It’s a trip I’ve anticipated for some time and, with the girls in tow and Katie joining us for the weekend, one that does my heart good.
There’s something about going home that stirs up hard-to-describe emotions deep within me. The familiar people and places offer immediate comfort and I replay the memory movie again in my mind…a highlight reel of funny stories and go-to friends and bland routines I miss. I sense the world is right-side-up again when I come home; I just fit here better.
With time, I’m learning to suppress the woulda-coulda-shoulda thoughts that used to interrupt [and dominate!] my return visits to Texas. Our relocation to the land of $4.14/gal gasoline and inmates formerly known at Governors has forced me to drill deeper into what I actually think about God, His purposes, and how He shapes our lives. I used to [functionally] believe His primary role was to accommodate my ever-growing wish list [i.e. God exists to please me!], but I’m slowly sensing the exact opposite is true. I exist to seek and find pleasure in God. And, because He loves me with a radical, persistent, jealous love, He will use whatever means available [i.e. anything!] to remind me that my happiness in Him is far more fulfilling than in any of His creations [i.e. places, people, expanded Whataburger menus, etc.].
As difficult as it is for me to wrap my ‘wittle’ brain around, we are not built for ultimate joy in this life. This world is not our home [as the catchy old tune reminds] no matter how tempted we are to think [or determined we are to prove] otherwise. For me, that means not grinding too much about where I am or reminiscing too fondly about where I was.
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” -2 Corinthians 4:17-18
“Do all things without grumbling…” Philippians 2:14
They hit me the other day with the news: I had become quite proficient in grumbling about grumblers. Far worse, I had nary a clue about the hypocrisy that was running rampant in my life [because I was so skillfully working to hone my craft of pinpointing grumblers and grumbling about their grumbling!]. No bueno!
Caught red-handed, I began to think more intentionally about the places and people and things and attitudes that cause a stir in my ever-shrinking world of criticism and negativity. And I soon discovered a liberating truth: God had lined my world with an occasional grumbler or two to bring my grumbling ways to the surface. And He used the combined resources of the Spirit and the Word [the ‘they’ who “hit me” in the opening sentence] to introduce me to myself. The wall of self-justification I had carefully built over time [and hid behind!] crumbled and the true grumbler in need of rescue was exposed.
I write this to encourage those of us who feel the compulsion to criticize the critical or judge the judgmental or gossip about gossipers, etc. The Lord is certainly after those grumbling, struggling souls who, for whatever reason, don’t pass our acceptability test. But we excuse ourselves from His good work if our primary contribution is sinning [grumbling] about their sinning [grumbling]. Amazingly, the Lord is also [and always!] after us too! He is pursuing us with His Spirit and through His Word to use the sin in others to help us see the sin in us more clearly [Matthew 7:1-5]. And the same gospel that rescued us from eternal condemnation is again unleashed on the sin we see, confess, and turn away from.
“As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12