They say marriage must be a 50-50 proposition in order to work. You give 50%, and your spouse meets you in the middle, giving 50% as well. In this way, everything is fair: no one is overworked, nothing is overlooked, and disagreements are minimized. But what if your partner gives 100%? If everything is finished, nothing is overlooked, and all is forgiven – then what?
I’ve been thinking about marriage a lot these days. Because I’m in not just one, but two relationships. Before you get alarmed, let me explain! I am married to a wonderful man I met 17 years ago, the answer to my prayers and someone I’m glad I waited for. He gives at least 50% to our relationship every day, and usually much more.
I’m also in love with an even more wonderful man – one who gives 100%, every day, all the time. His Name is Jesus. He is as much a husband to me as my earthly husband is: He provides, He loves, He listens, He helps – but He also saves. He saves me from myself and from the mistakes I make in my more “visible” marriage. He’s got the giving aspect of marriage pretty much nailed down (pardon the expression), and no one – not even my wonderful hubby – can top Him!
So does this mean, as my hubby likes to tease, that I just “sit around and eat bonbons all day?” If a spouse gives 100%, is His partner absolved from all responsibility? Or has the bar been raised just a little higher?
I believe that we as Christians genuinely love and appreciate Jesus and the 100% sacrifice He has made for us on the cross. I believe that we are absolved from the false responsibility of a religious “works mentality” that the enemy promotes: trying to earn the love of a Husband and Father who have already covered the tab for our mistakes – past or future. I also think that we must guard against the lukewarm apathy that enters our souls and robs us of the joy of actually knowing our heavenly husband.
You see, in a marriage, it is the work that gets in the way of the relationship. It is the challenge of communication that hinders intimacy. It is the responsibilities we have that drain the life out of us so that we have nothing left to give to our partners. We are working so hard sometimes that we have no time left to listen, to love, to encourage. We’re simply too exhausted! And if time is not set aside just for our spouse, our love will grow cold.
Here’s the good news: I believe that Jesus loves us so much that he takes ALL the “work” out of the marriage relationship. He takes all the fear out of not measuring up to our new Father. He finishes the work the enemy says is unfinished and clears His schedule for us. We are His top and only priority. He goes ahead of us to get a new house ready for us in heaven, and He is planning the wedding feast!
Why does He do this? Does this mean we get to sit around and just enjoy our “engaged” status? Are we supposed to spend our time on earth “showing off our ring” – sharing about Jesus and making others jealous for Him? Or is there something more?
Marriage: It's 100-100.
I believe that He has given us 100% of His love because He expects 100% back. He chooses to marry us because He thinks we are the right ones. As our heavenly bridegroom, He lays everything on the line when He asks us to be His bride. Having counted the cost and accepted His proposal, our sole desire should be to cherish, honor, and know Him. Do our lives reflect a desire to listen to Him, to spend time with Him, to know Him? Or do we take Him for granted?
Once again, I am not advocating a “works-based” relationship. That is legalistic and unloving. I am simply more aware, today, of our sometimes-tendency to give Christ a meager, token 10% when He has given His all. I want to be the kind of bride who has loved and listened to her fiancé throughout the engagement and knows Him through and through when she gets to the altar. I want to be radiant with the knowledge of His love, someone of whom the world says, “can’t you just tell she’s in love? Who’s the lucky guy?!” I want to spend more time growing the relationship than planning the wedding.
Relationships don’t grow much in the busyness of everyday life. Sure, we establish a functionality to things, maybe a good working rhythm so that we can accomplish things that promote heaven on earth. But real intimacy happens in the secret places of our hearts, where nothing is hidden, where motives are clearer and priorities more defined.
The amazing thing about God is that we get to choose how we love Him. We can go as deeply as we want into our intimacy with Him. His love for us doesn’t change based on our level of commitment. But our lives are changed as we love Him more.
Questions for meditation: When is the last time you closed the door to your secret place to be with your heavenly spouse? When is the last time you didn’t talk and just listened instead? What do you need to do to move your level of commitment closer to His 100%?
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.