Wedding Survival: An Unspoken Homily

Wedding Survival: An Unspoken Homily

Wedding Survival – An Unspoken Homily.

What if there was a new Survivor show, in which married couples were all placed on an exotic island and expected to survive. We would all suggest, obviously, they find life’s essentials soon, now that they are in survival mode… those essentials being food, water, shelter and clothing. If you want your marriage to not only survive but flourish, I’d recommend you take Scripture as your food, Christ as your water, God’s Name as your shelter, and righteousness as your clothing. Marital love will indeed survive with those essentials.

First, Scripture as food. You can now accept the fact that you are Bible translators, in which you take the Word and translate it into daily life. The words of Moses are true… that you cannot live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. (Deut. 8:3). Scripture is your daily nutrient, nourishing your mind, your soul, your inmost parts. So embrace the Word like Job, who said “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.” (Job 23:12). Sample the flavors of the Word like the psalmist, who said “How sweet are your promises to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” (Psalm 119:103). Swallow the Scripture joyfully like Jeremiah, who said, “When your words came to me, I ate them, for they were my joy and my heart’s delight.” (Jeremiah 15:16). Digest God’s Word like Ezekiel, to whom God said, “’Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you, and fill your stomach with it.’ So Ezekiel obeyed, and ate the scroll, and it was sweeter than honey.” (Ezekiel 3:3). Finally, feed on Scripture like St. John, who took a little scroll from the hand of an angel and ate it hungrily. (Rev. 10:10). One secret of a flourishing Christian marriage is to digest the truths and stories of the Bible with each other. Simply talk about them. You will be developing an intellectual and spiritual history together, and that is a bonding like no other. While you are feasting on Scripture, remember to have a balanced diet: Read the Hebrew Bible (the OT) with its Torah and writings and prophets; and delve deeply into the NT as well, remembering that the Gospels are your bread and butter. The gospel story is the greatest story ever told. As Andrew Klavan said, the gospel is when myth meets history, when mankind’s most earnest and persistent dream becomes reality. The gospels are your grid when considering theology. If a particular theology is inconsistent with the Jesus in the gospel, go with the gospel. May your minds and hearts be like an open mouth, ready to take in the solid food of Holy Scripture. What a feast!

So then, you have found food on Survivor Island, and that’s a great start. Scripture as food.

Second, you’ll need water, which is found in the living fountain of Christ. What could be better than if you found a spring of clear, fresh water, a never-ending stream to sustain you. It would mean you would never be thirsty again. Simply live near the stream, and you’re good to go. And now consider Christ to be that fountain, that stream. Drinking in Christ every day will always slake your thirst for truth, for peace, for joy, for all that you need to grow in your life together. Looking around you on the desert island, it’s easy to see that it can be a dry and barren land, dry of goodness, barren of purpose. It’s natural to get thirsty, but only as Christ Himself said, only He will quench your deep spiritual thirst. (John 4:13) St Paul talks about Christ being the spiritual rock out of which flows spiritual water, a rock that will always accompany you wherever you go. (1 Cor. 10:4). There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but there is free water. This eternal water of yours is absolutely free… for He says that “whoever is thirsty, let them come; whoever wishes, let them take the free gift of the water of life!” (Rev. 22:17). And what better wedding promise can there be than what is found in Isaiah: “I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.” (Isaiah 44:3-4). May you be like a tree planted by streams of water, yielding its fruit in season, whose leaf does not wither, whose roots drink in the living waters of Christ.

So, you’re well on your way on Survivor Island; you’ve found food and water to sustain you. Now you need shelter.

Third, you need a strong roof over your heads, a shelter, a refuge of safety. And there is no better than the Name of God. In fact, in Proverbs it says that “the Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.” (Prov. 18:10). In Scripture, one’s name is synonymous with one’s character. So run into the character of God, His good Name, His sterling reputation, and you will find shelter. In fact, I have three names of God in which you can find safety and protection. The first is Yahweh-Jireh, Lord Provider. Trust Him to protect and provide for you, for that is His character, His Name, and He is a provider for all your spiritual needs. And run into Yahweh-Rophe, Lord Healer. He will heal any spiritual or emotional scars or wounds you experience. He is a healer, so run to Him and be safe and whole. And finally Yahweh-Rohi, Lord Shepherd. His love will care for you, seek you out if you ever are lost, lead you and guide you, strengthen and encourage you as you live your life in His flock. He is your shepherd, you can trust in Him. So Yahweh-Jireh, Lord Provider; Yahweh-Rophe, Lord Healer; and Yahweh-Rohi, Lord Shepherd. May you open wide the door and run into God’s Name, His character, and thus find your strong shelter against all the elements.

So you have discovered food, water and shelter on your island. No one is voting you off. All you need now is clothing, not necessarily in that order.

Fourth, consider righteousness to be your garment, and goodness your covering. And what exactly is righteousness? It is right standing with God, it is pursuing what pleases God out of your response to His love; it is reflecting His nature and character as He transforms you from within; it is displaying the very virtues of God. Isaiah, in a moment of high praise to God, said “I delight greatly in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with jewels.” (Is. 61:10). Without this robe, we are shamefully naked in our sin, exposed to the obscenity of evil without the covering of purity. As you can see, a marriage is compared to a relationship with God, and you know how both a spiritual relationship with God and a marital life with each other are judged? By faithfulness. It all comes down to faithful spouses; and faithful servants of God; faithfulness like a robe of righteousness and a garment of splendor (Is. 52:1). So put on your survival gear like Job did, who said, “I put on righteousness as my clothing; and justice was my robe and my turban.” (Job 29:14). May you clothe yourselves in faithfulness and goodness, as a king and queen are adorned in royal splendor. Or, as Eugene Peterson put it: “Chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

May these essentials be in mind as you develop your survival instincts. Food? Eat Scripture. Water? Drink in Christ. Shelter? Hide in God’s Name. Clothing? Put on love.

So now you know what it takes for spiritual survival. But since you’re on survival island with no cell coverage, how will you not just survive but flourish without your smartphone or computer? Well, marriage is the original and best communication device. Real face-time, up close and personal, not mediated by a machine. Here are familiar words of wisdom that are far superior to Facebook, Twitter, text and email. These words far surpass iphone etiquette on how to get along.

What does it take to truly flourish in your life together? To flourish is to love. To love is to be patient under stress, gentle with each other, and consistently kind. Love does not traffic in shame, rudeness or disrespect. Love is humble and does not selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and the truth, and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love bears with the shortcomings of the other, and never stops believing in the other. Love is always faithful, loyal to the end. Love honors the spouse by helping to discover what is life-giving to the other, and then to actively make that happen. So above all else, let love be your beautiful prize that you grow into, every day. To flourish is to love.

So, in order to survive and flourish, go old school: eat meals at home together; have fun experiences together; slow down and talk face-to-face; develop a spiritual history in common. And don’t forget to eat Scripture; drink in Christ; shelter in God’s Name; wear the robe of righteousness.

Survive and flourish, then, in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.