I had three best friends growing up. I went on on separate vacations with each of them. Each time, within 48 hours, we were no longer best friends. When you see most people close up for a longer period of time, and when most people see me close up for more than an hour or two, the flaws and foibles grow incredibly glaring and galling.

Same goes for family reunions doesn’t it? In most cases they’re best kept short – maybe a couple of days – because after that the law of diminishing returns sets in, old and new tensions flare, and everybody wants to get back home again pretty quickly.

Colleagues (and congregations) who initially thought we were the best thing since the iPad, soon begin to wonder, “What in the world were we thinking of?” What began as ”How can we get this guy?” can rapidly become “How can we get rid of this guy?” One hour interviews reveal nothing compared to the reverse-epiphany of working beside someone for a week or two. “She is sooooo annoying!”

The best neighbors in the world on “move-in” day become insufferable by the end of the first summer. “How high do I need to make this fence?”

A Great Mystery
Which all makes marriage all the more mysteriously miraculous. Here are two sinners who have to live together in the closest possible contact day after day, week after week, year after year. And it just gets better and better – for most of us.

How is it that we can hardly last a few days days with friends and distant family, and yet, even years and decades after marrying, we can’t wait to spend time with our wife or husband – not just hours, but days, and weeks, and years. We see their flaws even more closely and constantly than in our family, colleagues, and neighbors, and yet we still enjoy them and find our greatest pleasure in them.

Sure, we get frustrated at times, we argue disagree, we might even fall out (so I’m told), but we go on, we repair, we recover, we reconcile by God’s grace. What felt like World War III at the time, soon looks embarrassingly like a toddler’s tantrum.

A Profound Mystery
It’s no wonder the Apostle Paul called the unity of marriage “a profound mystery” (Eph. 5:32). In fact he says it’s as mysterious as the Lord uniting with sinners. And just about as miraculous too.

Yes, there are many disastrous marriages, divided and destroyed by sin. Very, very sad. But not unexpected. Not inexplicable. Because given the sinfulness of both parties, it’s a miracle that any marriage lasts more than a day. It truly is the great grace of God to humanity that He continues to give this priceless and precious gift to any of us to enjoy.

Every day of marital harmony is to be treasured as a gift of God. It’s not our right. Given our “abnormality” it’s not “normal.” The inexplicable mystery of it baffles me more and more, especially as I see more and more of my own sin.

Just as I frequently ask, “How can Jesus love me?” so I increasingly ask , “How can she love me?” ME?

Such unanswerable questions seem to grow love and deepen union all the more. A great, profound, unfathomable mystery.

  • David & Flora Compton

    Thank you very much for such a positive article and you didn’t use the word ‘submission’ once! We’ve had the kind of marriage you describe for 46 years with the added dimension of being from different countries and cultures. We appreciate your reminder not to take these miracles for granted but to praise the Lord for His grace.

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