Recently, I was reflecting upon a 4-hour teaching seminar Cindy and I gave for a local church’s Weekend Marriage Retreat.
As I was praying about what direction to take my blogs for 2012 and the goal of helping you achieve the marriage of your dreams, I felt impressed to loosely follow the outline we used for our talk.
So, over the next few months, I will be systematically going through what I shared with that group (which means you get the benefits without paying the $’s!).
However, before we get there, I wanted to share something I read today as I was working on my doctoral thesis. It fits well with what I shared in my last blog, in which I stated that meeting needs is something that God intends for marriage.
In my reading today, I came across an Old Testament scholar’s take on Genesis 2. Ray Ortlund reminded me that the garden that Adam inhabited before the fall was almost a perfect place.
It was generously supplied not only with the necessities of life, but “also with rich luxuries to be wondered at under any circumstances”. Furthermore, the “tree of life” existed to sustain the man indefinitely with ample sustenance. And, Adam was given meaningful work (“to work and till the garden”). In addition, God throws open to the man the freedom to enter into the joys of his new existence with only one restriction (the “tree of good and evil”). And, to top it all off, God was there!
YET, “amid abundant provision, meaningful responsibility, personal care from God, and splendid promise for the future, God puts his finger on the one flaw in this otherwise ideal environment: “It is not good for the man to be alone”.” Amazingly, Adam had needs that only his wife could meet.
So, total perfection demanded one more creative act ~ the provision of a helpmate for the man! As I was reading Orlund’s exposition of Genesis 2, I was struck anew with just how dynamic God intended this relationship to be.
The English doesn’t do well with translating the Hebrew. Let me paraphrase Genesis 2:23-24 using some of Ortlund’s insights.
Genesis 2:23: This woman, this one right here, this amazing woman standing right in front of me, at last and I mean FINALLY, oh how long have I been waiting for her, she is FINALLY here. She is a part of me, and I am a part of her.
Genesis 2:24: Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and cleave and they will become one flesh – and by cleave I mean that the highest allegiance I have is to my wife (above the allegiance to my parents ~ she I will put above all other human relationships). Ortlund goes on to write: “Furthermore, to cleave means that, physically, the man takes his wife in his arms, so that in the course of normal life their marriage is frequently symbolized, celebrated, and refreshed through sexual union. Emotionally, the man fixes upon her alone his deepest affections, under God, with a profound sense of attachment, contentment, and fulfillment…The new life created by a marriage fuses a man and wife together into one, fully sharing human experience,s prompting mutual care, tenderness, and love.
I think Adam looked at his wife and said, “Wow ~ Now This Is Living!” (or, as I like to say to my wife, “You Are Sexy”! )
And, yet, as I captured anew a vision for my own marriage, something else he wrote violently grabbed me ~ Orlund wrote ~ “There comes a day when every married man, stripped of everything he cherishes in this life must let go even of his beloved wife’s hand. Marriage is profound, but not ultimate.” While I am married to my wife here on earth, I will not be in heaven. Our union, though a life-time, will not be an eternity-time.
So, as I sat there reading those words, tears flowed down my cheeks. Realizing that my days to honor and love my wife are numbered (as in, one fewer than they were yesterday), I resolved to love her to the best of my ability while I am privileged to have the opportunity.
So as we enter 2012, I wonder if you will join me in setting aside the shallow excitement of much of what we chase, and set about the business of joining Adam in saying, “WOW ~ NOW THIS IS LIVING!” I’m betting Adam was living one heck of a romance ~ don’t you think ? I’d like to join him. I’d love to have you join me in the journey.
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