Sanctification Through Marriage

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Sanctification Through Marriage

Is sanctification through marriage really possible?

Scott and I had been married less than five years when I read Sacred Marriage for the first time. Our little girl was less than a year old and we had just moved nine hours away from our nearest family. To say it was hard would be the understatement of a lifetime. We had one car and lived (literally) on an island.

He had started serving in a small, country church in southeast Georgia and I was still trying to figure out what it meant to be a housewife and stay-at-home-mom. He was busy learning the names of our church members and building relationships with the students in his youth group. I was busy changing diapers and trying to figure out why everyone called those huge insects palmetto bugs instead of what they so obviously were—roaches.

And somehow, in the middle of all the transition and lack of sleep and missing familiar faces, I realized something important: Scott couldn’t make me happy.

Oh, we were happy together and our marriage wasn’t in trouble. But he just couldn’t be the one who filled me up every day and met every need I had.

I felt tricked. I had somehow believed I could stop working and stay home and be a wife and a mom and everything would be perfect. Our life would be a picture of happy family bliss.

But it wasn’t. I struggled. All the feelings and exhaustion and frustration were at the brink of boiling over.

Sanctification Through Marriage

Enter Sacred Marriage. By the third page of my reading, I was uncomfortable. God was getting into my business. He was showing me how much I had warped the idea of marriage into something for my ego instead of something for His glory. I had made Scott into the savior of my spit-up filled days and lost sight of my need for the Savior of my soul.

What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?

The words echoed in my heart and mind for days. In fact, I couldn’t get over them. I couldn’t read any further. So I set the book down and scoured the pages of Scripture, looking at every marriage, every verse, every example I could find. I pored over the story of Ruth and Boaz, my favorite of all the Bible’s love stories. And I read and re-read the passages written by Paul about love and submission.

Finally, I read these verses:

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” {Ephesians 5:31-32}

Marriage is a mystery, a profound and inexplicable thing. Two become one in body, mind, and spirit. But marriage has a greater purpose than we often realize: When we commit to one another, when we take the covenant of “one flesh” seriously and choose to stay even when leaving would be easier, then we become this gloriously incomplete but beautiful image of the way Christ loves the Church, His bride.

The sacrificial, generous, committed love between husband and wife points to the unending and unconditional love of Christ for the Church, of God for His people.

In the moment we catch a glimpse of that mystery and all its profound implications, we see the truth: Marriage isn’t about making us happy. Marriage is, at its very best, a tool God uses to sanctify and purify us, to make us holy.

When it’s hard, when you’re tired, when he’s stressed, when the children are crazy, when there are more bills than money, more demands than time, more laundry than you ever dreamed possible … He is calling you to see Him more clearly, to know His provision and protection and grace and love.

And when it’s good, when everything is going smoothly, when you have a good hair day, when your husband brings flowers for no reason, when your kids are playing together, when you look at this life the two of you have built with gratitude … He is reminding you how gracious He is, to know His kindness and generosity and love.

Marriage is God’s plan, His gift to us. And He will always use it to draw us closer to Him … we just have to remember to pay attention.

How has God sanctified you through your marriage? In what ways have you learned marriage is a tool for holiness more than a means to happiness?

Guest Author:

Teri Lynne Underwood is a Word lover and idea slinger. A passionate encourager of rest, focus, and embracing life’s seasons, she tries to make time every day for good coffee, excellent books, and lingering conversations. Whether writing or speaking, Teri Lynne’s greatest passion is offering women permission to live well. As a pastor’s wife and a cheerleader’s mom, Teri Lynne is typically three days behind on laundry and trying to remember where she’s supposed to be next. Lately the Lord has been teaching her a lot of lessons about humility, listening, and loving others well. Connect with Teri Lynne on Pinterest,Twitter and Facebook.

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