Twenty-four years ago, I stood facing Mark in front of our families and friends and God and made some promises. At the time, I really had only a surface idea of what I was promising. Both of us were in Christ and were inviting Him to be a part of our union, and over these years, when the promises get a little fuzzy, Christ brings them back to our memory. I can't help but wonder if we had known what we were gettiing into, if we would have been so quick to jump! You may laugh, and we are certainly more "in love" with each other today than then. But I want to examine those promises a little today.
I, Rebecca Louise Sullivan, do, this day, take Donald Mark Henkel to be my lawfully wedded husband:
This one is pretty specific about who although not so much "what." Being in Christ, I was promising to let Mark lead our home and family, spiritually as well as physically. I've not always been good at this, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, I am doing better (I hope!).
To Love, Honor, and Cherish him:
I promised to place him above ALL others in my affection and attention, including any children that may come along. To speak well of him and build him up. To desire to spend time with him and to value those times above any other activity. To forgive his faults quickly and to forget them completely. There is a lot of 1 Corinthians 13 in this phrase! Sometimes I have had to DECIDE to honor this promise, guarding my tongue and my heart through God's strength. Philippians 4:13
For better or for worse:
I believe this is the one that people tend to throw out when the times get rough. Just how much "worse" are we to endure? There is no stipulation in this promise. However, I DID vow this before God and His people, so even though people, meaning well, may tell me that a circumstance is worthy of "backing out of a promise," I must answer to the God who leads us and "stick it out." Of course, this does not preclude counseling, medical attention, or any other means to make the "worse" into a "better." In these instances, I try to remember that the Fruit of the Holy Spirit in me includes perseverance and HE is the ONE that produces this part of the fruit in me.
For richer or for poorer:
We think we know what this means, but take a good look at that phrase. Why would we need to promise to love, honor, and cherish in rich times? It seems that would be easy. I see this as distracted times. In our mid-lives--the 30's, 40's, and 50's--we can get caught up in building our homes and careers and forget the purpose of the career in the first place: our family. We can get distracted by ball games, routines, schedules, calendars, and forget to take the time to love, honor, and cherish our spouse. And in poorer times, again we can be distracted by the troubles, the struggles and place guilt and shame on each other quickly instead of loving, honoring, and cherishing until the hard times have passed. Just remember, once the kids are grown, they will leave our homes and then it will be just "He and Me" again!
In sickness and in health:
Must we be reminded of the selflessness of sitting by the side of our sick loved ones? If it were just when he has a cold or the flu, okay I can take seven sick days. What if he gets a long-term illness, a mental disorder, an emotional illness? What if I am sick and can't be the wife I want to be? The joy of the Lord is my strength! I do not need to be in a constant state of happiness to feel joy in obedience to Christ and in standing by the side of this one I loved enough to marry. Again, this does not preclude counseling and medical attention.
Til death do us part!
And the timing of which is not up to me! (That was a little joke.) How long is a life? Today the experts tell us we may live well into our 80's. Each year brings us new challenges and new rewards. Our bodies become our adversaries as they age, it seems. Aches, loss of strength, gravity takes over where you wish it would stay out of your business! However, when I look at my husband, I still see that young 20-year-old cowboy walking down the mall at our college. He can still take my breath away when he sings or plays the piano. I pray for his health and safety every day because I want to see his face next to mine in pictures for a very long time!
God makes promises and He keeps them and His example is what we are to emulate. Is it easy for God to love me with an everlasting love? I must say that without God being involved in our marriages, it is impossible to keep ANY of these promises! I am speaking directly to you who say you belong to Christ: It is a trap for anyone to dedicate something rashly and later to reconsider his vows. Proverbs 20:25
So, as we live in this world, let us not become of this world and take our vows so loosely! Christians, let's bring the glory due our God by staying together and loving, honoring and cherishing til death do us part!