Together Forever?

Marriage is on my mind right now. My sister-in-law and her husband are currently celebrating their 20 year anniversary, Dave and I had our 16th a couple weeks ago. I am writing about marriage in my current project, and I am studying Song of Solomon in my Bible study (Sandra Glahn’s “Coffee Cup” Bible Study series — love it!).

Marriage has taken some pretty serious hits in the last few decades. With divorce rates rising and discontent rampant, I know many young people who wonder if marriage is even worth the bother. Is it just an antiquated system that needs to be eliminated? Are we really designed to be “together forever?” Or should we date, live together as long as it is convenient, and move on? Wouldn’t that be easier on everyone?

The truth is one that we all see, even if we don’t all admit it: we crave “forever.” Look at romance movies. What do we love about them? These couples are soul mates. They aren’t content with anything but each other. Forever. We spend billions of dollars a year sitting in movie theaters, watching this kind of love, dreaming of it. But we just can’t seem to make it work for us.

Marriage is tough. It is work. It is built on a solid rock of selfless love, with partners seeking the best interests of the other, rather than looking for all their own needs to be met. Marriage, at its core, is a picture God gave us of how he loves us. We are even called “The bride of Christ.” God loves us unconditionally, even when we turn from him, ignore him, shame him. He comes after us and forgives us. Over and over.

None of us wants to be partially loved, used, discarded when the one we love grows tired of us. We want the love that God demonstrates. But do we want it enough to put forth the effort required to be the one who loves unconditionally, who forgives over and over? A love that says “forever” and means it. For better or for worse?

Love isn’t just a feeling. It isn’t something we “fall” into or “fall” out of. Love is patient, love is kind…the love God demonstrates and that Paul describes in I Corinthians 13 is the love that we should strive for. It is a love we crave because God has placed a desire for that love in us. And we will never be fully satisfied with anything less than the love God has for us. Single or married, the greatest love we will ever know is the love of God, demonstrated in Christ Jesus. Once we know that love, we are free to love the way we were created to love.

So my advice to those of you wondering about “forever”? You already have it. It has been given to you by our amazing God. And as for marriage? Make sure the guy/girl you choose knows that love and is committed to Him first and you second, committed to a “forever” love that will wade through the hard times and not give up. I pray that this generation coming up will be the ones to show the rest of us that marriage isn’t facing extinction and that being together forever isn’t just possible, it’s pleasurable.

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