Two simple words that can be used in so many different situations to mean many different things:
I do like strawberry ice cream
– just prefer chocolate.
I don’t know what to do.
I do love a good prank.
But said together, just the two words, the picture that comes to mind is a wedding scene: the wedding vows. Will you, Mr. Charming take this woman, Ms. Beautiful to be your lawfully wedded wife? To love and to cherish her, honour and keep her…for as long as you both shall live? Such a beautiful moment. I was recently at a wedding and kind of touched by the personalised vows the couple had written for each other. Especially the husband expressing his heart was so beautiful and somehow surprising to witness. He really really seemed to mean it. He was truly in love. I felt so happy for my friend.
But what do these two words mean?
I do. I do promise to love and to cherish this other person.
This Mr. Charming – who will undoubtedly not always be charming.
This Ms. Beautiful – who will not always look or act beautifully.
I do. I do promise to be there for him, for her – in the good times and the bad. Until death do us part.
I do. I am not taking this step lightly, I am trusting in God to help us both and want HIS perfect love and forgiveness to be the foundation of our relationship and marriage.
In German the phrase goes: Ja, mit Gottes Hilfe.
Yes, with the Lord’s help. With God’s help.
Can we not love without assistance? Why does God need to play a role in our marriage? Isn’t He like a third wheel? An intruder? A cause for strife and jealousy? Why include God?
Because He is the author of marriage – and the creator of both the husband and the wife.
And HE is the first love. The first Husband.
In my post Unfaithful love I already wrote about how in the Bible, God’s relationship to us is compared to the relationship of husband and wife – and how often there is unfaithfulness on our side. On my side. But what does it mean that God is my husband? Why does God use that comparison? Why is marriage such a perfect and beautiful illustration for God’s perfect love?
Because God’s love is a love that seeks the good of the other person. A love willing to sacrifice. A love like the love described in 1. Corinthians 13: patient, kind, humble, not envious, not proud, not self-seeking. Keeps no record of wrongs. Does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Always protects, always hopes, always perseveres. God’s love never fails. That is how GOD loves. And that is HIS DESIGN for marriage. He longs for us to love each other with the same pure, joyful, selfless and generous love that HE has for us. Imagine if all marriages had that kind of love? There would be no room for pride, for manipulation, for unforgiveness and bitterness. It would be a truly joyful and love-filled marriage. That is God’s heart for ALL marriages. He wants us to first experience HIS love – to understand what the love of a husband means for God. HIS heart. To really feel that love that is unconditional. And to take that love into our marriage. To let the unconditional love of God empower us to love our spouse unconditionally too. To love in the good times and the bad. To forgive and ask for forgiveness, even if it is humbling. To admit mistakes. To encourage and build up. To seek the best for the other person. To keep no record of wrongs. To always hope and trust and persevere. So that our love never fails and our marriage becomes strong.
But God first. God is wooing for my heart. God is lavishing his love and attention on me. God’s heart is like that of an expectant bridegroom – eagerly awaiting his bride!
He is so proud, so happy, so thrilled to see me walk towards him!
The king is enthralled by my beauty!
And he asks me – will you say ‘I do’?
Will you commit to this journey with me?
Will you commit to trusting me?
Will you commit to loving me?
Will you commit to getting to know me more every day?
Will you commit to protecting our relationship
and putting it above all else?
Will you commit to being faithful to me?
Will you commit to opening your heart to me?
Will you commit to letting me into your life?
Will you commit to not hiding anything from me?
Will you commit to not trying to cheat me?
Will you commit to staying, even when doubts arise?
Will you commit to fighting for us, for this relationship?
Will you commit to letting me help you?
Will you commit to letting me protect you?
Will you commit to letting me love you?
And with my heart beating faster than normal and my eyes moist and a joyous smile on my face I realise, wow, he really really loves me. And without hesitation I say ‘I do’.
Yes God, I say yes to you.
Whether you are married or single, God wants to be the first love in your life.
As a married person, if both husband and wife love God first – it is the best thing you can do to grow in your love as a couple, because God would never separate you. He loves marriage. Honestly. Get this: God LOVES marriage. He LOVES when husband and wife become ONE. He LOVES when husband and wife do daily life together. Cook. Eat. Work. Sleep together. Make love. Dance around. Sing off tune. Argue and work it out. Build marriage. Because marriage HONOURS God.
If the husband puts GOD FIRST: He will love the Lord his God with all his heart, mind, soul and strength. He will love his neighbour as himself. He will love his WIFE like Jesus loved the church – by dying for her, giving everything for her!
If the wife puts GOD FIRST: She will also love the Lord her God with all her heart, mind, soul and strength. She will respect her husband and choose loving submission rather than nagging and strife.
This is not only true for married people.
Yes, God LOVES marriage – but that does not mean being single is second best and you should hope to one day be “promoted” to married. (If you’re interested in this topic I recommend the book “The single issue” by Albert Y. Hsu)
The single person who puts GOD FIRST: Will also love the Lord his God with all his heart, mind soul and strength. He will love his neighbour as himself. And therefore love, respect and serve the people God has put in his life with that same heart of love that God has – because in seeking God first, you begin to discover God’s heart and your heart becomes more like his heart.
God is faithful. God’s love is pure.
God’s love is truth and hope and light and peace and joy that overflows to transform not only your own life, but those around you.
God is waiting at the altar – like an expectant bridegroom – eagerly awaiting his bride!
He is so proud, so happy, so thrilled to see YOU walk towards him!
The king is enthralled by your beauty!
Will you say ‘I do’?