Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It has been two weeks since I sent you my last devotional. The two weeks of study in seminary was really intensive. It was also the time for me to catch up with my homework from last courses. During these two weeks of study, I had the bonus to celebrate Loretta’s birthday at Portland. I invited Loretta to spend the weekend with me so that I could show her my school and environment. Spring time in Portland was beautiful. The whole city became like a huge garden. Flowers were blooming everywhere. If you look at the slide show in my blog, you will see a lot of flowers we captured during Loretta’s birthday weekend. Enjoy it.
When I talk with people who come to me in preparation for marriage I often say, “Weddings are easy; marriages are difficult.” The couple wants to plan a wedding; I want to plan a marriage. They want to know where the bridesmaids will stand; I want to develop a plan for forgiveness. They want to discuss the music of the wedding; I want to talk about the emotions of the marriage. I can do a wedding in twenty minutes with my eyes shut; a marriage takes year after year of alert, wide-eyed attention.
Weddings are important. They are beautiful; they are impressive; they are emotional; sometimes they are expensive. We weep at weddings and we laugh at weddings. We take care to be at the right place at the right time and say the right words. Where people stand is important. The way people dress is significant. Every detail—this flower, that candle—is memorable. All the same, weddings are easy.
But marriages are complex and difficult. In marriage we work out in every detail of life the promises and commitments spoken at the wedding. In marriage we develop the long and rich life of faithful love that the wedding announces. The event of the wedding without the life of marriage doesn’t amount to much. It hardly matters if the man and woman dress up in their wedding clothes and reenact the ceremony every anniversary and say “I’m married, I’m married, I’m married” if there is no daily love shared, if there is no continuing tenderness, no attentive listening, no inventive giving, no creative blessing…
Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind if “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets (Hebrews 13:16 The Message).
I was asked to provide pre-marital counseling for a missionary who will get married in the field. It is difficult and challenging because I don’t know this couple at all. There are a lot of potential issues that may involve in their background as they enter into marriage. It is easy to prepare a wedding for them. But to prepare them for a life time commitment and adjustment is not easy. Definitely not a few session of premarital counseling can prepare a couple for such a life time commitment. There are a lot of variables, inward and outward factors that could affect the health of a marriage. It requires God’s grace and love to daily flow through this couple, so that they will become a mutual blessing to one another. A marriage is like a new creation in Christ that needs to be transformed daily through our abidance in Christ. Without the power of God’s love, our will power for such a life time commitment cannot last too long. Indeed, we love because we experience God’s love (paraphrased from 1 John 4:19).
Love you in Christ,