Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What an unmarried woman had to say about that!

Tonight was the Bible study I wrote about a few weeks ago, where I'd be leading on the book The Power of a Praying Wife. Unbeknownst to me when last I wrote, I HAD volunteered for the week that the chapter was actually on the subject of marriage! So here I sat, an unmarried woman waxing eloquent while six married women listened. Only God does these sorts of things.
I was afraid of boring them, and perhaps I did (Dora insists I didn't). Yet, I enjoyed teaching what I did. Several days ago I was talking to my dad on the phone and he popped out with one of those memory-blazing phrases -- the sort that will in the future will always be prefaced with a "my dad says...." What did he say? Ah yes, good of you to ask.

"Satan is always warring against love. He is always warring against relationships."

I've thought about it several times since, especially as I prepared for leading this study. It is so true, and so infrequently considered seriously. Oh, we're aware of the enemy's involvement in major things like divorce and bitterness and adultery. But the little things escape our notice: irritation, annoyance, self-preservation, fear, accusations. The list is extensive, so I won't even attempt to complete it. The point is, we are actually in a war. If we never recognize the fact, we will never violently and vigilantly act to preserve the way of love.

God IS love, and we are made in His image. This means that what Satan hates in God, he hates in us also. The enemy hates love.

Can you imagine this? Really? A personality that hates love? I find it horrific.

We can already see how effective the enemy is in this. Our culture guzzles divorce like beer. What are our defenses against such an all-out attack? What are our counter-weapons? What tools and strategies has the Lord given us to counter this onslaught of powerful hate?

Prayer is the first. Love is the second.

There are two aspects to this love. The first is following the law of love toward one another. That law says that we are to love the other as we love ourselves, that we are to prefer the other above ourselves, that we are to lay down our life for the sake of the other. (Ever notice how much easier it is to follow this law of sacrificial love toward our friends and neighbors than toward our family and spouses?)

The second aspect is this: we are married to two men at once. One marriage will last about 50 years. The other will last over 50 million years (to name a smallish sort of number). Our marriage to Jesus is our first, and our longest. It is the real thing, of which our physical marriage is a picture and shadow and reflection. It is the blueprint. It is the guide.

What does this mean practically? Our capacity for love is greater than a human being will ever be able to fill. We are deeper people than our spouses will ever be able to plumb. Women (and men, I assume) habitually look to their spouses to fill needs God created so extensive that only He could fill them. He left room in us for Himself!

He took me once through the 23rd Psalm, having me declare back to Him that He was my shepherd, my husband wasn't. He was my provider, my husband wasn't. He would give my soul rest and peace, my husband wouldn't. And so on... It was a wonderful exercise. At each verse I acknowledged that God might use my husband as a tool and an avenue, such as providing for me financially and physically. But in the ultimate sense, at the end of the story, a spouse is not going to ever complete what only God can.

I told the girls tonight that they will always be in want, they will always be in need. No husband will supply what God designed only to be satisfied by Himself. Until the marriage of the Lamb and the bride, we will always be waiting. The only way for a physical marriage to be all it was designed to be, is for it to be second to our marriage to God. The only way to really love your spouse, is to love God more than your spouse.

And that's what an unmarried woman had to say about that!