"Why do you recommend marriage Mr. Willis? Some people really don't like it."
A fun comment had just turned into a serious question. I'd been going over vocabulary words as a warm-up activity, and our word for the day was "engaging." One of the students mistook the adjective I was teaching for the verb that leads to marriage. I tried to correct him in an encouraging manner, adding that although we weren't talking about marriage, I did highly recommend it for those who are old enough. I'm a newlywed, I couldn't help myself.
This prompted a question from another student we'll call Danny. Danny is one of those adolescents that would make a great cartoon character. When asked for an example of something he found to be engaging, his response was "me" without skipping a beat. I rarely see him without a smile on his face, and as I watch his feet kick back and forth under his chair while most of the other sixth graders' feet easily reach the floor I can't help but laugh a little. However at that moment Danny's face had taken on a genuine seriousness.
I had just been asked a big question, and I knew I had to give some sort of answer. I realized that I hadn't learned enough about this new class. I had no idea which students went home to happily married parents and which came from broken families. Then another thought hit me, do I know enough to answer that question?
As I write this I have now been married 4 months and nine days. That still puts us within the lifespan of your average Hollywood couple. Can I honestly say I've figured it out already? No. Have I figured out enough to at least give a recommendation? I think so, so I gave it my best shot.
"Well Danny, I know that I have someone in my life that has committed to stay with me for the rest of her life, and I know that I have committed to do the same. It's more than feelings, although the way she makes me feel is great and gets even better the longer we're together. It's not just because she's beautiful, and believe me, she is…"
At this point I know I was probably blushing a little, and other students had to chime in.
"Is she fun?"
"Is she an Illini fan like you?"
"Of course, who do you take me for?"
"Does she like hot sauce as much as you?" (Note to self, kids remember any random fact you tell them, no clue how this can be used to make them remember their homework.)
"No, but she still kisses me as long as I brush my teeth."
At this point I had to get the class back on topic, but the moment has stuck in my head for the rest of the day. This morning my Bible reading was once again from Paul's letter to the Ephesians. Paul has been writing about the wondrous grace given through Christ that justifies us before God and gives us new life. Today I read a little about his response to grace.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21
I'm finding that the love I share with my wife keeps pointing me toward the love I receive from God. Granted, I'm still a rookie at this marriage thing but I think that's how it's supposed to be. My wife loves me in a way that I don't deserve, that I can't fully comprehend, and she's only human! Her love is nothing compared to the love my Father in Heaven has for me in Christ. It is a love that forced its way into my life while I was still a dead man. It compels me to think and act and live and love in a manner that is completely contradictory to my nature.
Therefore what can I do? I think Paul gives the right response. So, I bend my knee, knowing that the mind of God and the love of Christ are far beyond what I can grasp but trusting that God will fill me through His Spirit. I keep no glory for myself but give it all to God.