Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Gospel Life of Oneness

To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. 
It is what we need more than anything.”
-Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

I think I'm just beginning to settle into these words in a way I've never known before. I have friends who have known me for almost two decades, we've lived together, been in counseling groups together, ministered together, but marriage is something holy-other.

Entering the marriage covenant is a lot like laying your life down on the alter and saying, "Yes, for you, for you, I lay it down." But the implications of that sacrifice, that commitment to die to self and the hundred little ways I'll buck against it, will play itself out over time. Much time. One little choice after the other, after the other.

Mr. F and I both agree the receiving is the hardest part. It bucks up against our independence. I like to come through. I like to rescue. I like to be needed. I like your applause.  But to rely upon your goodness towards me, to enjoy your generosity, to take from you and be glad you gave because it blesses me is hard. Hard. It reveals what my flesh most fears, it's inadequacy. It's need.

And so marriage becomes the cosmic living parable before us. The daily waking up into the comfort or intrusion of another, depending on how we see it, and going to bed with that same wanted or unwanted guest.

Perhaps because there have been so many countless nights getting into bed alone, turning to my side to hug the pillow of longing and wait, I receive the gift of marriage with incredible thanksgiving and awe. 

I receive it. I receive the g i f t! 

But I also know the reality and have witnessed my fair share of marital strife to know a bit of the storyline of marriage--covenanting with another-- is equal parts beauty and mess. Life and death. Sounds a lot like our journey into Christ-likeness. 

Which is why I accept God's great provision and kindness in giving us journey companions along the way. Friends, family, ministers, and Christ-followers who have meandered a similar path, recognized and responded to the Voice in the Wilderness, and received His outstretched hand guiding them into the Promised Land. And though many get lost thinking they are trapped in the wilderness of marriage, the truth is that the Promised Land is available, it is, however, a choice.  But we need the Great Cloud of His Presence and the Moses' and Aarons to help us get there! The generous giving of these counselors and life-givers speaks to the One who entrusts His people with His life and outpouring of His love within them.

Mark and Barbara Case were the outstretched hand of God as we began our sacred first steps into engagement.

Mark and Barb know that Voice and have responded to that call.

I trust them, because I know them. I've heard their stories, watched them live, and learned from their life.

Over the years they've learned the painful cost of scholarly accolades over each other, the cost of success at the expense of another, the pull to become a Christian celebrity over a Christ-follower, the safety of hiding behind the other instead of living and offering alongside, the fear of losing everything to obey a call and the temptation to believe they'd been forgotten by the One who called.

They have lived the Christian faith. It hasn't always been pretty. But they've lived it authentically. They've grown into their call. They've said yes to the One who's called them out and lifted their heads. Is it any wonder He has now called them to do the same for others?

Every Thursday leading up to the big day amidst parenting responsibilities, Navigator director appointments, work, home-life and marriage life they made room for us. They hit pause and made space to pour out their lives. They opened the holy door of oneness and said, "Come inside, take a look, it's not all prefect and tidy but we are coming to see how beautiful it truly is. Come on in!"

Who. Does. That.?

A sacred few. A holy few. A chosen few.

And. It. Changes. Everything.!

The gospel goes forth.

The l i f e spills out.
See that pic? I love it. It captures something so sacred and special between Barb and I. To an onlooker they may just see me and my dad. They may even have the ability to see Mr. F because they know my eyes are on him. But what an onlooker may miss is the attentiveness, joy, and prayerfulness of that lovely woman next to me. They wouldn't know over the last few years she had held my hand, cried with me, prayed for me, called me out and into my Belovedness, invited me into her family, and waited with me for the one God had, the one she beseeched Him for.

I may have been the focus that day, but her holy hiddenness was breathing beauty and life all week.

She prepped and prepared the rehearsal dinner while her husband was going over the ceremony with us.

She frosted one of our wedding cakes in a hotel room. In a hotel room!?

She took care of her family and nursed her husband as he recovered from poison oak just weeks before our big day.
That guy....

Is that guy...
And that guy!?

And all these kinds of choices they make become a living, breathing metaphor before us. Mark and Barb living it out in front of us. 

See the thing is, they don't totally see it. They participate in it, live within their covenant to each other and quietly trust something is going forth.  

But. It's. All. Faith. 

It's showing up to the reality of their life together as "The Cases" and living into the gospel each day. They have to trust that God is doing what God does with broken lives. He restores. He rebuilds. He multiplies.

Mark and Barb are living in the holy goodness of enjoying life with God. They give out of the things He is doing in them. Not more, not less. They haven't arrived they participate. 

They invited Rob and I to join in on the holy mystery of marriage, this daily gospel living of showing up and being open and available, and we're doing it. I somedays have a sense of what's going on but many days haven't a clue, but I'm choosing to show up.

Thank you Mark and Barb for being a living, breathing example of this to us. There is so much to say, but I'll close now with a giant T H A N K  Y O U, which somehow never feels enough but like I'm learning about receiving truly means everything.


*Half way through this blog I realized there was no way to get across our full thanksgiving and gratefulness for the Cases. So....Friday Mr. F and I are getting to do something that's been on our heart, Mr. F is going to share from his heart, in his words, about the Cases. We hope to incorporate more of his voice on Sacred Celebration because we think it's a fuller picture of what God may be up to with us primarily, and then on Sacred Celebration. Stay tuned....


Angelica Holiday said...

Ok, totally dripping, sobbing and sniffling all over the place. Not great for the mac. You want to do a free radio show? I can set you up. What you say needs to be launched all over the place and into so many homes. Please say yes. So very amazing, just as the Lord wanted you to be. Blessings, Angelica

Anonymous said...

It was a lovely celebration! RCS