The Gospel in a Good Marriage

horse race

We almost killed each other coming out of the gate, but the relentless, self-crushing grace of God chased us down, and now we’re rounding the corner to our 30th wedding anniversary. Snorting our way neck-and-neck down the backstretch, we blindly run through a dust of faith that continues to spotlight our inadequacy against the backdrop of Christ’s sufficiency. We’re an unfancied pair for sure, but the positioning secured for us in the winner’s circle keeps us racing toward the wire.

I enjoy the privilege of a great marriage to a great man. I married my polar opposite, and I’ve been crazy about him ever since the moment we met as two hapless teens. His quiet and gentle strength sweetly tempers my intensity, and his calm and conservative restraint safely tames my passion. But good marriages don’t come easily, and we invest oodles of energy into maintaining our stride. Even the most blissful of days can find us kicking up hurtful debris, especially when the tempering frustrates and the taming bores.

Bottom line, I’m madly in love with the best man in the universe, but he just ain’t good enough. That’s a monstrously important fact to know, especially for those of you who find yourselves desperately yearning for relational happiness, whether married or not. I’m wholly qualified to tell you that even the best and the kindest just do not satisfy. Only Christ can satisfy. I can’t say that too many times. Only. Christ. Can. Satisfy. Relationships were never intended to be vehicles for human happiness; rather, they were sovereignly designed to be instruments of redemption that conform us to Christ and bring glory to God.

The sweetest relationships in the world are ultimately a call to extend a selfless and persevering love that we simply do not posses. Nobody is sweet enough, sexy enough, sporty, spiffy or savvy enough to secure and sustain satisfying love and attention. Not my husband, and shocker—not even me. In the best of relationships, we will inevitably find ourselves discouraged and disappointed because of empty hands that cannot give enough and empty hearts that cannot secure enough. We are a broken people on a fallen earth, created with an unquenchable thirst for that which is far more glorious than anything this world can offer.

The cry of our dry and thirsty soul comes with inevitable pain, and there are only three ways to deal with our suffering. We can kill ourselves, we can numb ourselves, or we can run to Christ and hide ourselves in His love. Few of us are untouched by the crushing heartache of someone who has taken their life in the depth of their darkness. It’s a raw picture of hopelessness that should drive us to our knees with pleas for persevering faith. We are not immune. Even if we aren’t tempted to destroy ourselves, we are certainly tempted to find comfort in numbing ourselves. We numb ourselves with self-destructive behaviors that harm the body, with self-righteous behaviors that harm the soul, and with all forms of behaviors in between. We numb ourselves with prescription drugs, illegal drugs, pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex. We socialize ourselves, entertain ourselves, exercise ourselves, work ourselves, cut ourselves, gorge ourselves, and starve ourselves. In our quest for satisfaction we end up misusing good things and resort to using bad things. We each have our own pet means to drown out the noise of our souls, and some can even look quite spiritual. We are all addicts apart from Christ—addicted to the vain attempt of satisfying ourselves. Indeed, we are a poor and desperate people. But praise God, we have a Healer and a Comforter, and His name is Jesus. And He is calling. “Come to me! Come to me and thirst no more!”

As I reflect on my marriage, I am grateful for a confident husband of strength who loves me, but I am far more grateful for a humble husband of weakness who knows he is not enough. I praise God for gracing him with unwavering assurance that what I need most is the love and care of someone who is more powerful, more knowledgeable, and more present. I need a Savior. An omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Savior!

After thirty years of incredible joys mingled with some very deep sorrows, it is to the praise of God’s glorious grace that we are still holding on. Two somewhat boring, slightly zany trophies of grace racing toward the wire. I’m going to wager it will be a perfect photo finish, and I’m going to place that bet right now. Quickly. Before Mr. Conservative tames my inner gambling child.

By Holly Stratton

First published at Church Works Media.

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3 thoughts on “The Gospel in a Good Marriage

  1. This marriage article was absolutely terrific – I WILL be sharing it with others! My husband and I are also closing in on 30 years of marriage….and he is a racehorse trainer, so of COURSE I loved the racing terms throughout!! Humor aside, the main point was crucial. NO ONE but Christ can satisfy. No one. Beautiful. Thank You.

  2. What a fantastic metaphor for marriage and life, but especially marriage. I love your honesty and the hope this truth offers to those struggling in their marriage. I too am married to my polar opposite and he sounds much like your hubby – quiet and selfless… once he said to me that he feels he wasn’t enough for me, and I was happy to tell him – that’s okay, I’m not asking you to be “enough”!!! You say it so much better though! :)

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