I was recently asked the question, “When you are 80 years old, looking back on your life, what will have made you happy?” I did not have to think long about the answer. Soon after Linda and I got married (33+ years ago) we began praying that God would develop a spiritual legacy through our family. I am a first generation believer so this would be something new to my side of the family. Over the next 10 years we had 3 kids. We tried to model for them what it meant to walk with Christ and what a godly marriage looked like. At times we did well, at other times not so much. But by the grace of God by the time they were 10 each of them had professed faith in Christ and were learning what it meant to follow Him. We watched with awe and joy as they went through their high school and college days – making wise friendship choices, involving themselves in missions, eagerly participating in church, and developing hearts that yearned to know God. I use the word “awe” because we had very little to do with it – it was definitely a work of God in their lives.
None of our kids dated much. Somehow they had got it in their heads that dating was a waste of time unless it was a serious relationship that could result in marriage. Christy hung out with a group of friends (guys and girls) in high school, fell in love with one of them and married him (Chad) 6 years later. Tucker met a girl as a junior in college on a local missions project, knew pretty quickly that she was “the one” and married her (Danielle) a few weeks after graduation. Scott met a young woman while serving in the Kid’s Ministry at his church, told us within a few weeks that he “had met someone”, and married her (Mary) 17 months later – just a few weeks ago on November 23. I refer to that day as the day Scott got “Mary”d.
It has been my great pleasure as a Dad and as a pastor to officiate the weddings of each of my kids. At all of the weddings that I do I will give a short message (perhaps 7 minutes) to charge the couple with some thoughts from Scripture about marriage. Here is what I said to Scott and Mary:
Here are 3 gospel-centered phrases and a few comments that I hope you will never forget…
1) The Importance of the Incarnation – Incarnation means “in the flesh.” One of the great truths of our faith is that Jesus is God in the flesh. In the person of Jesus we are able to see forgiveness being offered, compassion being demonstrated, love being lived out, patience being practiced, and grace in action. As husband and wife, you are to incarnate, to flesh out, both to each other and to those around you these same virtues because Christ lives in you and is on display through you and your marriage. Together you have the opportunity to manifest the gospel in a way that you could never do were you not married.
2) The Mystery of the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Three distinct persons – one God. It sounds crazy to those who are outside the faith but to those of us who are believers it is a mystery that we joyfully embrace. I say joyfully because the Trinity affirms for us that our faith is about relationships, not about rules or religion. And then Scripture tells us in Genesis 2:24 that when it comes to marriage, husband and wife, 2 distinct people, will become one flesh. 1 + 1 = 1. An incredible mystery. A powerful mystery. A beautiful mystery. And an awesome miracle. Like hydrogen and oxygen coming together to form life sustaining, thirst quenching water – each of you are independent and dynamic and valuable – but together, you become a supernatural work of God. An extraordinary work of the Father. But this will only be true so long as the Lord remains the all sufficient, supreme Sovereign in each of your lives.
3) The Centrality of the Cross – The cross stands as the preeminent symbol of our faith and there is a lot that we could talk about regarding the cross and how it relates to marriage but I want to mention just one. Ephesians 5 talks about the sacrificial love that Christ demonstrated for His bride, the Church. The Apostle Paul admonishes husbands to love their wives in this same way. Essentially, Scott, Paul is saying that it is up to you to lead your wife by sacrificially loving her – by demonstrating day in and day out that you will do whatever it takes to present her to God as a radiant bride, wonderfully sanctified. This is the power of your love for her. And let me tell you a secret – when a wife knows this kind of love, when she knows that her husband is willing to put her needs, hopes, desires, and dreams before his own, then you have a wife who will respond in the same way – unselfishly seeking to meet his needs and make his hopes come true. And if you will sacrificially love one another this way then you have a marriage that most couples can only dream about. But it starts by remembering the sacrificial love that was demonstrated for you when Christ went to the cross on your behalf.
These are words that I need to be regularly reminded of as well.
We are very excited to have Mary as a part of our family. God has provided godly spouses for each of our kids so we are eagerly watching the legacy grow. The 3rd generation of the legacy is currently in growth mode. Grayson (Christy and Chad’s son) is now 2 years old and they are expecting another baby boy in mid January. Linda and I consider ourselves to be incredibly blessed in so many different ways and are very much looking forward to see how God uses our family in the generations to come to bless the nations.