18 years ago today this guy that I barely knew, but had known for five years, asked me out to a movie. We went to see The Matrix. It was the middle of the week and the movie had been out for awhile, so it was an empty theater. We sat and watched the movie and some guy farted in the middle of a serious part of the movie, which made us crack up. Then he took me out for free popcorn at Pub 99.
I was home for the summer from college and I had to work, my one best friend was married and the other was getting married at the end of the summer, so I didn’t have too many folks to hang out with, so Mike and I hung out. I really thought he wanted to just be my friend until he bought a motorcycle and got free hugs from me as we sped down the freeway. We spent the summer canoeing, roaming around Boston, going to amusement parks, pulling a canoe over beaver dams, getting ice cream, dying blond streaks into hair and sitting by bonfires.
A year later we were married, and hopped into a motorhome to make our first trek around the country.
The guy that Jesus gave me, has taught me about His glory. He has taught me about hard work. He has taught me about protection. He has taught me about taking risks. He has given me the Gospel with forgiveness, love and grace.
Marriage begins with a first date. That first date, even if you don’t know it’s date, is the precursor to the relationship. If we knew what first dates would lead to, would we go on them? That first date leads to the next and the next and then one day you’re married and then life can go into a tailspin. We’ve had five babies, one with Down Syndrome, we’ve buried two sons, we’ve remodeled three houses and one mother-in-law apartment, we’re beginning to build another, we’ve had multiple friends, we’ve had our fights, we’ve had our joys, we’ve had no money and we’ve had an okay amount of money, we’ve moved halfway across the country, we’ve traveled the US, we’ve lived in an RV five times and we’ve slammed doors in anger and comforted one another in grief. If we had known about those things on that first date, we would’ve run for the hills, but Jesus doesn’t let us know about the future, He just wants us to trust Him with it.
Marriage is for wimps who need a ton of Jesus. Marriage is for people who have no strength, so that they can depend on the One who does.
A friend asked me a few years ago to give her marriage advice, and I truly didn’t have any. I was feeling pretty depleted at that moment. If I had to give advice now, I would say marriage is God’s grace to us. It’s hard. It’s wrecking. It’s stretching. It’s sanctifying. But it’s also good, because in those hardships, Jesus shows us the Gospel. Jesus shows us His grace and He teaches us to love one another as He loved us first. We can’t love a spouse, or others well, if we can’t receive the hesed Love of our Savior first. He gives it, even if we don’t want it.
There isn’t any other guy that I’d want hang out with. Jesus knew what He was doing on that first date. I would do it again. Truly.