Thursday, October 11, 2012

Mud soaked in grace

Here is my answer to another favorite question from my single friends: "How do I know whether this person is the one for me?"

First, stop asking the question.
Because this question is fundamentally selfish.

Or perhaps you are dating and already thinking, "I have found the perfect one for me!" Watch out, you are also in for a rude awakening.

You are making your tastes, your needs, your values, your personalities as the central, deciding factors. So really, you are loving you, not the other person. And marrying a person because you love you is generally a bad idea.

While Adam was sleeping, God made Eve. Adam was awakened to the dawn of nuptial love. God did not throw Eve somewhere in the Garden and tell Adam "go find her!" No, God brought her to Adam. In the twilight, they walked in the Garden while the earth was still young. No other husband and wife knew joy so great, though their time was brief.

Therefore, the first thing to say about marriage is that it is a work of grace.

Marriage is God's work of grace in the lives of his children. Grace of the most profound sort. Grace we do not deserve. We were given, entrusted with the life of another human being. For this reason, marriage is suitable a picture of the Gospel. A picture of how the God-man Jesus Christ gave his life for his Bride.

So, do not ask "Who is the one for me?" Rather, we should be asking, am I standing in the way of grace? Do I have the right disposition to receive grace? Grace that I do not deserve.

What is this way of grace?
The way of grace is given to us by the entire counsel of Scripture.

We are not left with our ever-changing, unreliable feelings, and random, subjective experiences (Thanks be to God!). We have been given the counsel of God's Word, which remains true forever. He has revealed his will to us, including whom we are to marry. And we have been commanded to seek after, not husbands or wives, but the kingdom of God.

Our understanding of marriage, however, must not rely merely on the "marriage passages" or the "love passages." We need know the whole story in order to understand the specific passages about love and marriage. We need to know who God is, who we are, our struggles with sin, how God rescues us from our sin, and how we are to live in relationships with one another.

Emeth, who is four, has long started asking me about "his queen." And my answer to him is always the same: he must first learn to love Lady Wisdom. In this way, he will know how to love his queen. He must first learn to walk in the way of wisdom, by fearing God and keeping his commandments. Here, he will learn to stand in the way of grace.

With much fear and trembling (and a teeny bit of reluctance), I pray that my three sons would love wise women. In order to win wise women, however, they must first be wise young men. I don't want them to be exquisite vases looking for other exquisite vases. I want them to be good mud finding good mud. Mud soaked in grace. I pray that they would become suitable clay— broken and yielding—in order that they might be useful vessels for the glory of God.

So, how would you characterize someone who is wise? Here are just a few traits gleaned from the book of Proverbs. The wise person fears the Lord. Unlike fools, the wise person is aware of their foolishness and loves correction and discipline. The wise person prays, trusts in the Lord, bears much fruit, is hard-working, resourceful, kind, and knows how to reign over their tongues. Fools manipulate and take advantage of others; they are flirtatious, proud, dishonest, provocative, and lazy. They have no self-control especially over their tongues and their temper.

A few more words.

Not only have we been given the entire counsel of God's Word, we have also been given a cloud of witnesses. You should not be making this decision alone. Seek the counsel of God-fearing people who love you and who would watch out for you. And listen. Wisdom is discernible by others. In fact, your own vision might be a little (or more than a little) compromised by your feelings.

No matter how well we think we know the person we marry, we always marry people who are somewhat of a stranger to us. Because dates are not the same as real life. Because people change. And believe it or not, that's a very good thing. The knowledge that we are able to change is the very hope of marriage.

Part of me died at the altar on my wedding day. I died, in more ways than I understood. And I promised to be a new person, in more ways than I knew possible, with the one singing beside me. The amazing thing was that he promised to do the same. That he would die for me, to be with me, to be me.

The way of grace is narrow.
But its narrowness
is the narrowness of a birth canal.
There is an entire universe waiting on the other side.


Catherine said...

ahhh so distracted by the pictures! emeth in hanan size! awwww :D ahahaha.

:) :) :) thanks jie. this came at a good time. keep praying for us! even if you are bias.. haha.

love you!

Teyen Chou said...

Thanks Irene!!! This is definitely something I needed to read, especially the part about "you loving you". I've been reflecting a lot on selfishness, pridefulness, and what it means to sacrifice. And grace. It's so tough learning how to let go of things that brings you comfort and contentment, when those are blinding you from the only One that can fill you. For me, all this comes true especially when I'm with someone I like, haha. Instead of wanting to know him for who he is, I become selfish wanting him to make me happy, make me feel wanted and loved, etc. Those instances have, honestly, not ended well in the past few years. But of course, as painful those experiences has been, God knew I needed them. I just hope I wouldn't make the same mistakes again next time!

Seda said...

Yeeling, that's my job (being bias). My big sister duty OF LOVE. muahahahaha.

Seda said...

Dear Teyen,

Thanks for reading, and for sharing your struggles. A word of warning -- You will make the same mistake again. =) Unfortunately, "me loving me" still happens quite a bit in these parts. Because I am still on this side of eternity. This is where we repent, learn to say "please forgive me," and learn to not keep a record of wrongs. This, too, is the way of grace and wisdom -- realizing our foolishness, and learning to forgive.

love to you today! <3

Anonymous said...

Once again, a wonderful truth-filled post! This will be a great one to refer my two unmarried siblings to sometime in the future. Thank you for sharing the wisdom you have gleaned!

Natalie G

Seda said...

Dear Natalie,

How have you been? You were in my thoughts and prayers when I was writing the post about butterflies last week. :) I hope your soul is restful.
Thank you for your encouraging words. I wrote this with my own unmarried siblings (biological and otherwise) heavy upon my heart.

The Barbers said...

Wow - I love this. Beautifully written, and full of truth. You are 100% correct in saying the question "How do I know if this is the right one for me" is completely self-centered, and NOT a good jump-start into marriage. Linking up behind you at Gracelaced.
Grace For That

The Barbers said...

Thank you stopping over - I tried to find a contact on your page to let you know I was linking up to your post. Glad you found me anyways. :)

c30lin said...

Another great post! Thanks for the reminder, Irene!!!