June 9, 2014

I don’t know how many weddings I have done over the years… my share I guess. I only have a couple of “stories” that I tell during those ceremonies that are addressed to the bride and groom, however I always encourage others to listen in. This is one of the stories.

Many moons ago a seminary professor told us this in class.

He recounted the fact that he had grown up in a rural section of Maine. It was during the time in some places in our country when young married couples moved in with one of their sets of parents because there just wasn’t enough money to afford a place of their own. As children came along they simply added new rooms onto the house. Sometimes this created some rather odd designs! In his case it required him to walk through his grandparents’ room to get to and from his own room. Since it was all he had ever known it didn’t seem strange to him.

He must have been around 6 or 7 when this incident occurred. His grandfather had a respiratory illness that required him to sleep sitting up lest his lungs fill with fluid. His wife sat behind him in bed against a pillow with her arms around her husband all night to hold him up. My professor said it was not unusual for him to walk through their room and see them sleeping… her behind him, he in front.

One morning he walked through the room and his grandmother was awake holding her husband up. She looked at her grandson and simply said, “Your grandfather passed away this morning.” My professor with tears pouring down his face choked out these words, “That’s the way it’s supposed to be! That’s the way it’s supposed to be!”

I then go on to tell the Bride and Groom that my hope and prayer for them is that many years in the future it will be said of them “they did it the way it is supposed to be done!”

Let me say right now that the purpose of this note is not to make folks feel worse than they already do about failed relationships. There are many, many reasons why marriages do not work. (And in some cases the Bible approves divorce.) That being said, I do believe that God has a plan for how men and women are to relate to one another and things don’t always go well outside of that design. For example I believe “living together” outside of the bond of marriage is not “the plan.” I believe having sex from one partner to the next is not part of the plan. Abuse (physical or emotional) in a relationship is not part of the plan.

There is something about all of this that confuses me however. Many folks would agree with what I have just written (or at least parts of it)… even folks who continue to do the very things that have been mentioned. And yet, we do them anyway; openly, freely, and unrepentantly. I could be wrong but I think the message is something like this: “God, I know what you want but I WILL NOT DO IT! I WILL PLEASE MYSELF FIRST.”

In the end that’s really the problem isn’t it? We simply have this lust to please ourselves at the expense of so many other things. I know it is a symptom of our brokenness and separation from God. I just don’t understand the unwillingness to admit to our sin. Mostly what we do is “justify” our behavior or change our belief system to accommodate our conduct… or ignore it and hope it goes away. Does anyone see a problem with that? Maybe its “old fashioned,” but I do.

Please don’t get me wrong… I am the least of all Christians to speak about these things… but I do believe there is a place for repentance in our lives. A BIG place.

I don’t think it is coincidence that before Jesus even showed up on the scene, John the Baptist had one message for the people of Israel…. REPENT.

Mark 1

1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”— 3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”

4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

I don’t think that message has gone out of vogue.

Not one person reading this is without sin… not one. It doesn’t have to be sexual sin. It can be the sin of not caring for the poor or the elderly. It can be the sin of substance abuse or pornography. It can be the sin of racism. It can be the sin of pride. It can be the sin of unjustified anger and lack of forgiveness. There are many to choose from. When was the last time you went before God with a sincere and broken heart because of your rebellion against Him? Seriously… when was it???

Well, back to marriage. For those who for one reason or another have been a part of a failed marriage… I’m so sorry. I know it is not what you wanted when you stood before the person you married on your wedding day and expressed your lifelong love. But for those who have been fortunate enough to endure God’s plan… Joy inexpressible.


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