As I sit here at my desk at 4:00 in the afternoon, I’m waiting for my wife to come home so that we can go out together to celebrate another year of our marriage. She has taken the children to an event today so that I can remain alone in the house and quietly prepare to preach tomorrow. She has, in one way or another, taken the children away faithfully for the last five years to this effect. She does this because she loves me, but also because she loves Him.
If my marriage depended on me, I do not think I would still be married. Over the seventeen years of our life together, my wife has endured more selfishness and sin than any rational person would endure to be with a man with such a low rate-of-return on her investment as I’ve provided. If keeping this ship together through the storms of life were my good deeds and best guesses, I am certain we’d have sunk by now.
But I do not keep the ship of our marriage together. That is the the work of the Lord. By God’s grace, He has given to me a wife that depends on Him, not me. This does not absolve me of my responsibilities to her, and she’d be fast to point that out if I ever wandered into that sort of deluded thinking. I owe her all that I promised her seventeen years ago.
Yet, when I fail, He does not. On that bedrock of faithfulness our marriage endures. In fact, more than mere endurance, over time it has flourished. The root of our love is deeply weaved into the fertile soil of God’s great strength rather than the sandy uncertainty of my best intentions.
I know that Jesus’ covenant with me – His promise to keep me, love me, restore me, and bring me safely into His kingdom as a shepherd would his sheep – is the same covenant that He has with her. He who began a good work in each of us will be faithful, not because we’ve earned His favor or kept our side of a two-way bargain, but because of His great forgiveness at the cross.
I know that I will let my wife down, and she will return the same to me in kind. But I also know that God will be faithful to restore the both of us to Him and then, in turn, to each other.
Anniversaries are not, for Christians, the celebration of ourselves but, rather, the celebration of what God has done for us through His Spirit. He remains faithful.