My husband Joe is a check and double check kind of guy. Ready for anything with all of his safety measures and back-up plans. So when it comes to keeping our home safe, one sump pump was not enough in his book to protect our basement from flooding. We had had some flooding in a previous house and he thought, never again. I have to be ready with a back-up plan if my sump pump ever fails. (And then he’s the kind of guy who wants a back-up pump for his back-up pump.)
So when the storms start, and the power goes out, he rests easier knowing he’s got that back up pump. And I rest easier knowing Joe has all that stuff figured out
Do you have a back-up plan for your marriage?
Plan A for marriage often looks like: I love you I love you so much I love being with you you’re the best in the whole world you make me so happy all the time I love the way I feel when I’m with you let’s live together forever.
But what if that first plan fails and those aren’t the thoughts running though your head any more? Those feelings often flee the minute “life happens” and a storm hits.
The Plan B is the commitment you made to that person. The back-up plan is the vow.
Love, cherish, honor, sickness, health, richer, poorer, today, tomorrow, forever.
Those words sound so appealing on your wedding day, but putting them into action when the storms come is when those words gain their power. I’m going to love you, I’m going to stay married to you, because I made a promise before God that I would. The vow holds us in the storm like an anchor on a ship.
I love the way G.K. Chesterton describes the vow:
The man who makes a vow makes an appointment with himself at some distant time or place. The danger of it is that he himself should not keep the appointment…. It is the nature of love to bind itself, and the institution of marriage merely paid the average man the compliment of taking him at his word.
Being taken at your word. That’s hard.
Our kids love the word “promise” and understand the depth of its meaning. Many times they ask us to promise this, promise that, because they know that that word carries more weight, makes the answer more certain. Gives them recourse if we don’t follow through. (But you promised!!) And almost every time, we say no, we cannot promise that. Life is too unpredictable, so I cannot promise that I will do such-and-such. We will try, but we cannot promise.
Yet in Christian marriage, God asks us to make a promise.
A huge promise, with many more unknowns and over decades of time. Many more possibilities that I might find it difficult to stay true to my word. Which is why Christian marriage and the taking of vows is a huge responsibility. We “make an appointment with ourselves” to love and honor this person at a very distant time and place. That takes courage.
It may seem ideal to see a couple who can sustain their marriage on all the Plan A feelings. But that’s quite unlikely, quite unromantic, and it’s not a very stable foundation to build on. It is a far more beautiful thing to see a marriage sustained not by loving feelings but by the deep, abiding commitment that they have towards each other. May God give us the strength to have that type of unshakeable commitment to our spouse.
As Dietrich Bonhoeffer says,
It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.
Galatians 6:9/ And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Mark 10:9: “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”