This month's topic for Marriage Monday is "Friendship in Christian Marriage".
Once again, I am going to head off on my own trail with this one. (The topics are so broad my mind can't be contained to just one path. I like to wander around and make my own way :)
When Bob and I got married twelve years ago, we didn't invite someone to the wedding. Luckily, he showed up as a plus one with some of our family and friends. Of course, he didn't sit in the front row, but he was out there in the crowd somewhere. He watched us "tie the knot", nodding his head and smiling this little half smile. He knew what had just begun, and where it would lead. He also knew what it would take to get us there.
You see, we never invited Jesus to our wedding. He managed to sneak in with some friends, but because we didn't ask for him to join us, he sat quietly in the crowd, watching.
Fast forward to about two years ago. We are both now completely dedicated to living our lives for Christ. We wanted to fix our marriage so Bob and I both read scripture, read books (OK, I read books, he looked at the covers ;), talked to friends, sought out council and so on, but we still were missing the big picture. We worked so hard on fixing our relationship that we didn't even notice that Jesus was always there, waiting to the side, just taking it all in; once again with that little half smile on his face.
On and on the struggle went, knowing how it should be but never able to GET there. Working in our own power.
By this time, we had a great relationship with Jesus. He joined us for meals, prayer time, celebrations and deep discussions. We asked his advice and direction on parenting, ministry, service, and even started to listen to his direction on finances. Our friendship with him had grown and deepened and become wider and higher. All of a sudden, there it was! The answer we had been struggling to find!
We still hadn't invited Jesus to the wedding. He was still sitting in the crowd, watching, and smiling that little half smile. He had to wait for us to realize that we had never asked him to join us.
Jesus is the best kind of friend. Always there, but never pushy, never overpowering. He wants us to take the step of trust that is required in all relationships. He wants us to lay it all out. The ugly, the dark and damaged, the forgotten and the hopeless. Then he can work in his power to repair, replace and redeem what was lost. But you see, he won't take it all. We have to willingly hand it to him and admit that we just aren't enough.
By removing Jesus from the guest list that kept him as a "plus one" and inviting him to be in the middle of our marriage, we found that all the broken places were made whole. The pieces that were missing suddenly were there to complete the picture. It took HIS light and healing to change our marriage. Not our power. We have none. It had to be his. Jesus needs to be THE one if our marriage is to work according to God's plan. The one that directs. The one that disciplines. The one that refines. The one that leads. The one that is glorified.
Bob and I will eventually renew our vows as an outward sign to our friends and family that we are still dedicated to each other. It will be a time of celebration with friends. But what matters most has already changed. Our commitment to each other and most importantly, removing Jesus as a "plus one" from the crowd and making him THE one in the middle of our marriage.
Oh, and that little half smile he seemed to always have? It's a full blown laugh now.
For more stories of Friendship in Christian Marriage, head over to marriage Monday by following the link in my right hand column.