This has been a busy summer of weddings for me. Since May 25th, I've done four weddings and I have another coming up in October. It's really been a great experience and each wedding has helped remind me of a few different things:
First, God makes a big deal out of weddings! The Bible uses wedding terminology in many different ways. Jesus is described as a "Groom" awaiting His bride. The Church is described as the "Bride of Christ" ... the one He loves. There is a specific "event" to be held in heaven called the "Wedding Feast of the Lamb." Jesus performed His first recorded miracle at a wedding. There's even a story in the Bible about a prophet named Hosea who was instructed by God to marry a woman he knew would be unfaithful to him ... but he was to remain faithful to her simply to show us God's faithfulness. God makes a big deal of people getting married and the commitment the bride and groom make is not only to each other, but before the God of the Universe.
Second, I'm reminded that a great marriage doesn't just happen. You have to work for it. You have to fight for it. You have to give all you have to make it work. If great marriages could be achieved easily, more people would have great marriages. There would certainly be less divorce and families would be thriving. All to often we're unwilling to put the hard work in required to build an intimate relationship with each other. What I've found is that it's easy for me to live with my wife. We could be great roommates with no problem. We'd get along just fine and probably not bother each other at all. But, that's not what a thriving marriage is about. A thriving marriage is about pursuing the other person ... knowing them like you know no one else ... allowing them to know you unlike anyone else. You confront. You forgive. You serve. You sacrifice. You study each other. You have to pursue each other ... even when you're not liking the other person very much. Intimacy can be hard work, but it pays off in the end. John Wooden once said that "Great results only come with great effort." Too many couples forget that. But, that hard work is so satisfying in the end.
Finally, there are only certain things that longevity will provide for you. Each wedding that I've done this year is tied to our youth ministry. I've been at axis for 11 years. I've seen each of these young men and women be a part of our youth ministry. It's so exciting to have stayed on this journey and now see things that I would never have seen if I would have left after 2 or 3 years ... the average tenure of a youth pastor. There are only certain things you get to experience when you stick something out. How true that is of marriage as well. Most divorces that occur in the United States happen 8 years in to marriage. I've heard it said that it takes approximately 9 to 10 years before that true, undeniable intimacy is developed in marriage. If that's true, what that tells me is most marriages end before the true intimacy has started. And, this often creates a vicious cycle because the divorce rate of 2nd marriages is even higher than first! Sowing commitment and loyalty in to each other's lives will allow you to reap so much over time.