How right it is, since this broken world gives to each of us times of sorrow and woe, that we should savor this moment. As the Proverb says, “A desire fulfilled is sweet to the soul” (Proverbs 13:19).
We all know the anguish of unfulfilled desires. Each in his way can say, “I am weary with my crying out. . . . My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God” (Psalm 69:3). The chronic heartache of loneliness is especially painful. Many end it by whatever means necessary.
You took the road less traveled — a road that, despite your desire to marry and have children, took you away to the mission field, and for almost a decade. While you waited, you sought first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33). You waited long and well. Your groom joined you on that road, the road paved with, “Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land” (Psalm 37:34). And now, at last, God has fulfilled your heart’s desire. From this moment forward, your quiet and lonely nights are over. You get to replace the dream of marriage with the joys and challenges of it.
Delight Yourself in the Lord
When people say, “I want to get married,” what are they saying? I think this is simply short-hand for saying, “I long for a healthy, tender, passionate, mutually satisfying, long-term relationship with someone of the opposite sex.” This is what the poet Robert Browning was pointing to when he wrote of his desire to “Ride, ride together, forever ride.” What, then, can I say to speed you on your ride together?
I’m a strong believer in the life philosophy that says, “Put all your eggs in one basket!” Not too smart, you say? That depends on the basket. The basket I commend says,
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 34:7)
This basket holds God’s will and human desire firmly together. The call to delight in God means to make him your chief delight, or ultimate source of happiness. The promise of this verse is that God will delight to fulfill your heart’s desires, just as a father delights to give good things to his children. Store all your eggs with him.
You might object, “How can God give me the desires of my heart? Not all my desires are good. Some are selfish and destructive.” True. And pursuing sinful or selfish desires are a sure way to destroy your marriage. But, in my observation, people who delight in a God tend to develop godly desires. People who love God become better lovers of people. Their desires and God’s will fall into alignment.
Your desire to get married — to establish a healthy, tender, passionate, mutually-satisfying, long-term relationship with each other — is also God’s will. Therefore, rejoice in him and expect his help in fulfilling this desire.
All Men Have Faults
Adopting this philosophy has the immediate benefit of helping you avoid common mistakes. For example, it prevents you from expecting and demanding too much from one another. People who look to their spouse to meet their every need and to make them happy put too much pressure on the marriage. No one can meet these expectations. Marriages like these eventually move from, “I love you because you make me so happy,” to, “I’m angry at you because you are not making me happy right now,” to, “I hate you because you failed to make me happy.”
In such cases, as marriage counselor, Larry Crabb, says, “you have two ticks and no dog!” Even good marriages must remember Shakespeare: “Roses have thorns and silver fountains mud. . . . All men have faults.” Making God the ultimate source of your happiness, not the marriage, keeps expectations real. It allows you to take the worse with the better in marriage.
We Are Always Wooing
If delighting in God keeps you from expecting too much of marriage, it also prevents you from making too little of romance. Shakespeare said,
She is beautiful and therefore to be woo’d.
She is a woman, therefore to be won.
But, as the years unfold, we husbands tend to let go of wooing. This is a big mistake. Wives never complain that you woo them too much.
Delight in God and he will nudge you along regarding the true state of things between you. When things begin to wilt, you will feel prompted to act; to show her by tender-words of affection or acts of service that you love her still and delight in her. Like a wilted flower getting fresh water, wooing your wife is a good habit and brings many happy returns.
Resolve to Resolve Conflict Quickly
Delighting in God is God’s primary way of guiding you into your heart’s desire for a healthy, tender, passionate, mutually satisfying, long-term relationship with one another. If you delight in him, you will keep his commands. His commands are designed to fulfill your heart’s desire.
For example, conflict resolution is key to a mutually-satisfying, long-term relationship. The apostle Paul says, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26). Follow this rule and you will go far. Husband, make sure of it, even if you need to break the stony silence first.
God invites you to delight in one another, to give yourself freely to each other and to flee every form of sexual immorality. Following this call is, self-evidently, a safeguard to a healthy, passionate, mutually-satisfying, long-term marriage.
To Husbands and Wives
The God that you delight in says, “Let each of you (husbands) love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:33). Husband, this means, love your wife as if she were an extension of your own body. To see her in anguish is to be in anguish, in some measure, with her. To see her fulfilled is to feel fulfilled yourself. It’s not selfish to seek your own happiness this way. It is selfish to seek your own happiness apart from hers. But if you seek your happiness in the holy happiness of your wife, she will love you for it.
Wife, you already respect your husband. Now, in marriage, God desires that you see to it that you keep respecting him. “See to it” implies times when his choices are poor, his confidence is shaken, his love wanes and more. In these times, you will either insult and attack him, or you will see to it that you pray for him and help him regain his footing. God’s will is, see to it that you keep respecting him in private and in public.
As you take your vows, I say, delight in God and expect him to help fulfill your heart’s desire for marriage. Take each other’s hand and say with Robert Browning,
Grow old along with me.
The best is yet to be.
The last of life, for which the first was made,
Our times are in his hand.