Rise Up, My Love (191): Transforming Our Marriage from a Bubble to a Diamond

Happy Fathers’ Day to all you dear fathers out there! Bet being a dad is harder than you ever dreamed, but I hope it’s also more fulfilling! Thank God, He’s the best father ever! I marvel that He’s so patient with us, and I was thinking about that as I prepared this post about his love and the example in Song of Solomon 6:3, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.” This declaration marks the beginning of an unbroken communion between the husband and wife that continues to the end of the book. What precipitated it? Learning how to overcome sin. Learning how to give and accept forgiveness. Learning how to melt into one, like spring sunshine melting a snow deep into the warm earth beneath it. As our hearts warm, our own desires melt away and we are absorbed into Christ like storm clouds dissipating into spring showers. “My beloved is gone down into his garden…to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies…he feedeth among the lilies.” He feeds on our purity…on our melting into him and becoming one with him, just as surely and mysteriously as the spring rains feed the earth. Let us consider for a moment the great secret of learning to give and accept forgiveness, because I truly believe it is the pivotal point of every marriage. Dealing with sin is the universal crucible of marriage, and how the partners respond to sin will either break or make their marriage. Developing the humility to forgive and accept forgiveness will transform the “bubble” of romance into the diamond of enduring love. If this grace is developed, the marriage becomes as beautiful and unbreakable as a diamond. If this grace is not developed, the “bubble” of infatuation will burst into a thousand tiny teardrops, leaving behind no visible trace of its existence. Think with me for a minute about the nature of bubbles. Did you play with soap bubbles when you were little? They are formed by one breath of air into a little soapy water…nothing to them, really, but they are a perennial delight to the child in all of us, no matter how young or old. Transparent, rainbow-colored globes…they rise fast, float with the breeze, dance on the wind, and burst as soon as they’re touched. Have you ever experienced a relationship that reminded you of a soap bubble? Formed in an instant…so pleasing…rising fast, floating, dancing with delight… but as soon as you reached out to touch it—poof, it disappeared into thin air. When I was a girl, we called it puppy love, but today it seems to describe an alarming number of relationships even among adults. There aren’t just bubble romances, there are bubble marriages. A popular song on the radio (when I was writing this) was “The Greatest Man I Never Knew,” the sad lament of a young woman who never met her father. But, such sorrows are not new. Think of the heart-wrenching story in 2 Samuel 13 of Amnon’s “love,” rape, and hatred for Tamar, the beautiful princess who was his half-sister. What went wrong? Amnon was as devoid of virtue as a soap bubble…he was totally empty. He had not a trace of remorse or repentance for his terrible crime, even when Tamar implored him to seek forgiveness and restitution from the king (implicit in her response in 2 Samuel 13:16). Although she seemed able to forgive, he was unable to accept forgiveness. Why? I believe pride is the problem and humility is the answer. Pride is like a great barred castle…a stone-faced wall we hide behind to keep from admitting we’ve ever been at fault or venturing forth to seek forgiveness. Pride is like a heavy ball and chain locking us to a post in the dungeon of our own making which keeps us from understanding the depths of our own sin and the marvel of God’s grace. If we could only be freed from our own pride and experience the depths of His grace, how eagerly we’d spring from the dungeon and run to forgive those who’ve trespassed against us! Pride is the padlock that keeps us bound. Humility is the key that will unlock our hearts. Contrast the pride of Amnon with the humility of the king in the Song of Solomon! Prince Amnon selfishly ruined his sister for a moment’s pleasure and refused to repent. For his evil conduct, he was later killed. King Solomon, rejected by his bride, tenderly retreated until she sought him out. And then, with love, humility, and forgiveness, he welcomed her back to his embrace…and won for himself her undivided devotion. The goal: A love that is able to give and accept forgiveness. The key: Humility based on insight into God’s love and forgiveness in dealing with our sins. The reward: The diamond of a beautiful and enduring marriage. May God so transform our marriages!

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