Do you know that when you got married that you made a marriage covenant? And, do you realize that marriage is meant to be a symbol?
Around 4:50 in the morning, my husband climbed into bed after staying up all night. This is a pattern he’s struggled with for many years as an adrenal fatigue sufferer and worker of various shifts (both military and now civilian). His circadian rhythm is a total mess. It is never kind to him or his body; something which we both are aware of and regularly discuss.
I awoke as he came in and snuggled up with him for the final moments before I got up to begin my day. His shoulders are always such a sweet sanctuary for my soul.
We talked and chatted a bit as we lay there. But, then I softly said something on my heart, which always has been a potential rocky ground.
“Maybe tomorrow you can go to bed earlier. I’m concerned about you and at this point, you’re only going to get at max six hours of sleep. I’d like to keep you around for a while.”
He pulled me in more tightly, kissed the top of my head, and nodded. “Tomorrow I’ll try to be in bed around two. Especially because I love you.”
Almost as soon as the exchange occurred it dawned on me that we’d had this conversation before. In fact, we’ve had it many times, and not always has it been so pleasant or positive.
There was, for sure, a difficult season in our marriage when even the inquiry or suggestion alone that he make a positive change for his health was received with defensiveness and rejection.
His soul had not yet learned to trust me, nor my goodwill for his life.
But, for nearly fourteen years now we have walked together through the thick and thin of life. I have never left his side, no matter how bad things have gotten. Our marriage covenant has been honored. And, truly this is not a testament to me. I have only done it by a close and intimate walk with my Abba.
For fourteen years he has been shown love and acceptance, repeatedly extending a hand of welcome and belonging in my heart.
This has not, however, been without boundaries (see my post on the topic here). It has taken me many years to learn to love within the context of boundaries. To know where my rights and responsibilities end and his begin, and then lovingly protect this fence line for us both.
Tonight, though, a new reality became ever-present to me; we have crossed into the land of oneness. Our boundary lines have now extended to overlap so that he is welcome to speak into my life, and I am welcome to speak into his.
Our marriage covenant relationship is now truly reflective of a much greater one.
Not because either of us has more power over the other, but because we love each other with complete trust. Each of us wants what’s best for the other. We desire to see each of us live a full and healthy life while on this earth and hereafter.
In this space of oneness, I set aside my “rights” and welcome the preferences and requests of my spouse. This openness allows us to be united further; not because I have to, but because I choose to.
Do You Embrace Your Marriage Covenant?
This overlapping space where oneness exists is where the hard things are spoken and received in Love. The attributes that define Godly Love are present here: patience, gentility, kindness, eternal Truth, humility, compassion, empathy, purity, covering, and bold confrontation of harmful things.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” ~ 1 Cor. 13:7-8
In this space, my heart is able to speak to him about my desire to love and care for him. But, it is necessary for him to also do the same for himself. The marriage covenant does not function within pride, ego, and selfishness. It does, however, honor Truth, vulnerability, trust, and gentility.
Though he may understand how to receive my love, he is still learning how to extend it to himself in a total sense of wholeness.
Aren’t we all?
And, it dawned on me through this exchange that this is precisely how our covenantal relationship with our Abba was created to look. In fact, a marriage covenant is defined as an earthly example of exactly this in Ephesians 5:32. It is that beloved mystery revealed in scripture of holiness, purity, and Love.
Our Abba has revealed His Love for us in many ways, culminating in His saving work on the cross in the form of Yeshua, the Christ; completely God, yet completely man. This is the work that He has displayed and claimed. It is a sacrificial love; the grounds that set the stage for the marriage covenant.
But, along with His sacrificial Love, He also extends His protective requests for us to “take care of ourselves.” He too wants what will give us the best life and lead us to a beautiful existence on this earth.
Scripture openly reveals the areas that we are to stay away from because they are harmful to us. These are God’s boundaries of love because He cares about our well-being.
Could He command it with a harsh hand? Sure. If God were Zeus, I’m sure thunderbolts of lightning would shoot down immediately at everyone who dared to disagree.
But, does He? No. His desire is for a relationship with us. It is essentially a marriage covenant in the spiritual realm, where we trust and believe His Love for us. Through that love and trust, we welcome the Holy Spirit to speak into our lives about things that are harmful to us.
He extends a hand of gentility and kindness to His Bride because that’s what a Good Husband does. He withholds His power and strength from His Bride and instead offers a never-leaving Love that is always willing to forgive and welcome back a repentant wayward spouse.
His Love is perfect.
But whoever loves God is known by God.” ~ 1 Cor. 8:3
He serves His Bride with a self-sacrificial Love, one which culminated on the cross, and yet still remains in the everyday wonders we experience all around us. He has promised His covering to His devoted Bride, and never changes His mind.
But, He obeys the Law of Boundaries and does not force Himself upon us. He speaks and has clearly defined not only how He wants to be shown Love, but His desire for us to also Love ourselves in holiness and Truth. And, when we decide that we do not accept that Love, but reject it, He walks with us while we figure out whether or not we truly want the marriage covenant He has offered.
He permits us the freedom to choose and intentionally determine if we are ready to return sacrificial Love to Him. For us, this means dying to ourselves.
A True Marriage Covenant Provides a Love that Casts Out All Fear
In the context of my earthly marriage, my husband could have rejected my words. He could have maintained that I was simply “trying to control” him. He could have stood on his right to do whatever he wants with his time, body, emotional tank, etc.
But, would that have drawn us closer in our relationship? Would that have added a new stitch in the knitting together of our hearts?
I also could have DEMANDED that he change his behaviors. I could have made ultimatums and handed out threats of punishment if he did not do what I wanted in a “speedy” timeframe.
We love because he first loved us.” ~ 1 John 4: 19
But, would that have shown a steadfast Love? Would that have spoken acceptance and belonging to the one with whom I have chosen to be connected until death do us part?
Relationship creation takes time. It takes repeatedly washing our eyes to be able to clearly see the Loving heart of the spouse who desires only good, not harm, for their beloved.
In this same way, our walk with our Abba in this marriage covenant acts exactly the same. It is centered on the mantle of Godly Love; a Love where self-sacrifice meets self-sacrifice in the hearts of two knit together as One.
Perfect Love cannot be demanded but must be freely given.
Anything other than that which is freely given is merely an exchange of fear through a master/slave thinking pattern.
This Perfect Love is the culmination of a growing relationship with our Abba. We gradually transition from “Lord/Creator and indebted slave” to “Master and willing servant” to “Friend and Companion” to the ultimate “Bridegroom and Bride.
This Perfect Love casts out all fear, rejecting obedience that is without a relationship. It relentlessly works to be built on the Rock of Truth and Wisdom, where the Greatest Commandment resides: Love.
Abba, may our hearts and minds be united with Yours in the fullness of Oneness. May you remove the planks from our eyes so that we can see clearly to receive the Love and Kindness that you extend to us over and over again. Show us Your unfailing Love, and provide for our every need. Teach us how to walk in Your footsteps, and lead us in the Way everlasting. Amen.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Phil. 4: 7