“For I have espoused you to one husband” (2 Corinthians 11:2, King James Version).
Paul describes our relationship with Christ as a kind of marriage, and marriage goes through certain phases.
YOUNG marriage starts out with celestial expectations. You see no reason the honeymoon can’t last forever. Every day is a “date.” She makes breakfast for you, then you go jogging together before heading off to work. You buy each other expensive gifts to prove your love. Passion is strong, and nights are interesting. You talk a lot, but some of those talks turn into quarrels, and you soon discover that he is no saint, and she is no angel. You have discovered the limitations of marriage.
MIDDLE AGE marriage is a time of distraction. Energies that used to go to your mate now go to caring for children. Your boss wants more and more from you. The house needs a new roof, the yard is a mess, and the in-laws are coming for the weekend. You have to make an appointment if you want to talk to your husband, and then you can’t remember what you wanted to tell him. At midnight the two of you collapse on the couch to watch TV and you both fall asleep.
OLD marriage is about companionship. It’s just the two of you, now, and you can have the talks you put off in midlife. You are happy with simple gifts: a good book, a pair of slippers. Passion has given way to the occasional long embrace. For a date you walk to the post office together, and you are holding hands again, only now it’s to keep from falling down. You think about how empty the house would be without “him” or “her,” and you wonder which one of you will go first.
Like young lovers, we can’t do enough for God, in the beginning. Then come the realities of life, the disappointments, the mistakes.
All too soon you begin to run out of prime time, and in the end you wonder where you stand with God.
The Lord’s table gives us the strength to go on. Here our Lord says, “We need to talk,” and you bare your heart to an understanding friend. Then you listen for his reassurance. “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3).
You leave this place knowing you are loved, not because you are perfect, but because he is perfect love.
Daniel Schantz is professor of Christian education at Central Christian College of the Bible in Moberly, Missouri.