And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore….(Luke 20:34-36 ESV)
Those verses puzzled me. Well one particular phrase really. I had to pause and read it over again. “They neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore.” Hmm, does that mean I would have been better off being single? (Haha. I kid.)
It may not be what the learned scholars say but this is my take on it: Maybe in eternity when we are perfected and we are no longer in the presence of sin, we don’t need to be married (to anyone other than Christ) because nothing in us needs to die anymore.
While we are on this side of eternity, we need refining. Constantly. What better way to accomplish that than in the bounds of marriage? I can attest that being married requires dying ~ and lots of it. Daily at times. God has used this area to refine me more than any other. He showed me where I have been selfish and unaccommodating. He has uncovered my pride and refusal to bow down to the authority He has placed over me. He has tested my patience and resolve. Don’t get me wrong, there have been many moments of joy but also lots of sorrow and pain. What else can be expected when two self-centered sinners try to live as one for say, oh, 26 years?
CS Lewis said: If the first and lowest operation of pain shatters the illusion that all is well, the second shatters the illusion that what we have, whether good or bad in itself, is our own and enough for us. Everyone has noticed how hard it is to turn our thoughts to God when everything is going well with us. We “have all we want” is a terrible saying when “all” does not include God. We find God an interruption. As St. Augustine says somewhere, “God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full—there’s nowhere for Him to put it.” Or as a friend of mine said, “We regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it’s there for emergencies but he hopes he’ll never have to use it.” Now God, who has made us, knows what we are and that our happiness lies in Him. Yet we will not seek it in Him as long as He leaves us any other resort where it can even plausibly be looked for. While what we call “our own life” remains agreeable we will not surrender it to Him. What then can God do in our interests but make “our own life” less agreeable to us, and take away the plausible source of false happiness? It is just here, where God’s providence seems at first to be most cruel, that the Divine humility, the stooping down of the Highest, most deserves praise.
C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: Harper Collins, 2001), pp. 94-95.
When we depend on our spouse for our happiness and fulfillment, God is going to step in and correct that course. Not that He doesn’t want us to love our spouses, what He doesn’t want is for us to put them in place that is reserved only for God. He is actually doing us a favor because no mortal being can ever live up to another’s expectation anyway.
Here is another lesson that I have learned: God does not ask us to give up something without giving us something else in return. Something far better.
When we let go of pride and humble ourselves, He exalts us.
When we let go of bitterness and love our enemies, He blesses us.
When we let go of resentment and forgive, He binds our wounds and heals us.
When we let go of our idols, we finally see the One True God.
He refines by fire. In the process the chaff burns off and all that is left is gold. In His hands nothing is ever wasted.
As I die to self, I learn to live in the Spirit. It may be in incremental baby steps but it is a good preparation for eternity. I’m looking forward to that time when I can be with my Lord face to face, no longer needing anyone or anything else. Just Jesus and me for eternity, the “forever and the forever of forevers” (phrase courtesy of Beth Moore).
[Reading from Blue Letter Bible – Chronological Plan]