Posted by: word4men | September 8, 2010

The Beauty of Marriage and Mourning.

Last week seemed to be starting wonderfully for me.  Tuesday I dropped in to visit a couple in my little Hospice congregation…Mr. and Mrs. B (the Mrs. is our patient) were celebrating their 64th anniversary.  I saw her and a friend sitting on the porch in downtown Charleston, not far from my alma mater.  She was beeming.  She was proud, they made 64 years.  More than that she was greatful to God that she and her husband had been given each other and weathered 64 years of joys, losses and crosses together.  They are a treasure.  Mrs. B quite often cannot get off a subject and the same few sentences in fact…about marriage, she always talks about believing her eyes, not her ears.  Oft times well meaning or not so well meaning friends plant unrest in couples, so she only believed about her husband what she saw!  64 years later they were beaming with gratitude as their daughter prepared a fried seafood dinner for them as she has for the last several years to celebrate the great day!

Then Thursday happened.  After a very strange 4 hours with a patient at the ER, I was called by our acting DON (just for a week) and wonderful Nurse  Ratchet, Sharon.  She simply said “Reverend and Mrs. T need you soon!”  I knew what that meant, though it took me by surprise.  When I arrived he had passed.  His dear wife lay on the edge of the bed cradling the dear man of God’s earthly shell.  52+ years.  He had led his family.  Protected and provided for his wife and children with a 40+ hour a week job while preaching and ministering to small churches in our area for decades.  His wife had shared with me the greatest compliment I have ever heard from a wife about her husband: “He made me a woman!”  And I thought that is why God created marriage.  That is the goal we should have has spouses.  To make each other into better men and women of God.  To help each other grow up.  Isn’t that the goal of all human relationships?  Even more so the relationship God created to reflect His relationship between Himself and the church.

Then this weekend, I realized that Monday would be the last day of a marriage of two people that are dear to me.  I actually took part in their wedding 13 years ago.  Everyone involved in that relationship are dear ones to me.  Its decline and ugly dissolution have gutted me as I see the damage done to the principals and to the children and friends they have had.  And I mourn over what was, what should have been and what most surely seems like the end of hope for this relationship and what should have been a lifelong effort to glorify God through the greatest of human relationships. 

Reflecting on Mr. and Mrs. B’s little party and the opportunity I had to pray to God our gratitude and seek more blessings upon their marriage, I cried.  But they were tears of joy and awe.  I surely hope Cindy and I will love and delight in each other when we are in our 80’s and 90’s.  That is beauty.  It is the way it was intended to be.

When I looked down on Mrs. T cradling her husbands body in a room crowded with people who looked upon the two of them as a blessing in their lives as the pastor and first lady of the church, as Godly parents, grand parents and uncles and aunts who went the extra mile, I looked into her eyes, touched her cheek and wept for her and her pain.  She is even 4 days later dealing with losses and crosses that seem too much for her.  She has spent the last several months caring for her husbands every need until her body and spirit began to break and she finally allowed a niece to pick up the slack.  I believe my dear Cindy loves me that much, and I pray that I love her that much.  God deserves that we love our mates as Mrs. T loved Pastor T.  That is beauty.

But my real mourning is for the 3d relationship.  One where hearts never melded.  One where love did not win out.  God was not honored.  I am close to this one.  Closer than those that I have seen beauty in.  I have seen selfishness, compromise with sin, self-defeating bargaining, extortion, and cruelty lurking beneath a plastic facade that I could see through 80% of the time or more.  I could see the children being twisted and still being twisted.  I could see one partner figuratively tossing all that was good in their life down the toilet to chase a false freedom into a bitter bondage to self.  I could see another incapable of leading his family or standing up to his partners demands for control.  And, I see this playing out in so many marriages that may never go to court.

If you are already married, dedicate yourself not just to your marriage, but to God, it is Him you glorify.  If you haven’t married yet, understand, you are the least important person therein.  First God, then your spouse and then your children you may be blessed with…you are best when you matter not at all.

Christ Alone.


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