Monday, March 30, 2009

A Greater Hope

In less than one short week, my beloved Olivia and I will begin the exciting journey of life together as a married couple. I cannot begin to relay how excited I am! I mean, seriously, she is such a wonderful blessing in my life. For example, only she could make me want to swallow my pride and say "I was wrong."

Someone asked recently if we had a prenuptial agreement, to which I replied: "No, there will be no prenuptial agreement. We actually trust each other and endeavor to follow Jesus Christ in love for one another, which means we'll never divorce. No divorce = no prenup. It's as simple as that. Prenup agreements are an advance warning that you don't trust the other person and/or you don't plan on being faithful to them. But that's not us."

Now, how can I be so sure of that? you might wonder. It's a question I often ask myself. How can I know that my own selfishness and pride will not foster bitterness and divisiveness between us and ultimately lead to a divorce? Current statistics, if they are to be believed, claim that over one third of "born again" Christians' marriages end in separation.

It's because I know that my hope for living in love does not depend solely on myself; my hope is in God's great promises to purify my desires and make me increasingly more loving and selfless:

"They will be my people, and I will be their God.* I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul." (Jeremiah 32:38-41)

"I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." (Ezekiel 36:24-27)

"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:18)

When by faith we have communion with Christ, we have Christ in us, "the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27). Yes, our greatest hope, sharing in Jesus' bodily glorification and complete freedom from sin, will not be our possession until after his return. But even now we possess his Spirit and are being renewed. This is no mere wishful thinking, for if it is, then God is a liar. These promises of God have been my courage and my comfort since this past fall concerning a lasting marriage with Olivia. I have brought these promises of God's before his throne in prayer many times, claiming his faithfulness to his word and reminding him that his Name would be defaced if he doesn't hold true to this.

In short, Olivia and I, sinners that we are, can boldly go forth into marriage because God's purposes and grace are more powerful than any evil. It is the Lord Christ who is the Omega; he gets the last word in our lives and in all of history. And it is his promise that his own loving heart and fear of God will be wrought within us, bit by bit, day by day, as by faith we go under those waters of our baptism--letting our old desires and ways be put to death in Christ that a new self might be born within us.**

*I am aware that the passages from Jeremiah and Ezekiel were first spoken to Israel in her exile. But these promises are certainly not for Jews alone; they belong to the "everlasting covenant" of grace into which the entire worldwide church has been engrafted through faith in Christ and his gospel. In a nutshell, the apostolic message of the New Testament is that the promises of deliverance and kingdom given to Israel were now being fulfilled through the Messiah, and they have been opened up to all nations, that they too might share in Messiah's benefits. Hence Paul can call the Gentile Galatian church "the Israel of God" (Galatians 6:15-16; cf. Ephesians 2:12-13; 3:6).

** See Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27; Colossians 2:11-13.


Ted M. Gossard said...

Amen, Andrew! And nice photo!

And apt words aptly spoken.

Yes, may God's richest blessing be on you two and on your family so that you will be a blessing to many! God bless your very special day, and surround and envelope you in his love, now and forever through Jesus. Amen!

Andrew said...

Thanks, Ted!

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Looking forward to having you and your wife home!

preacherman said...


Ted M. Gossard said...

Really nice wedding pics on your mother-in-law's blog!

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

My goodness, can you have been married now for two weeks??? I think perhaps, watching your face the other night, that she is even more beloved to you than when you wrote this entry.