Oh, ok. Not exactly. But hopefully, I got your attention. And trust me, the quote will be worth it. It does involve a few marriage analogies...and a statue.
I mentioned last week that one of the books I'm reading through this Summer is The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God. If you're not familiar with the author, Tim Keller, he's a pastor in New York who has great thoughts on the integration of faith and work, an understanding of the practical applications of the gospel in all areas of life, and an ever-increasing number of extremely useful publications. He took a long break from writing after his first few books, but high demand for his ideas has sparked a resurgence and we have the benefit of listening to his years of pastoral experience and deep meditation on a wide range of issues. The following section from the book has been swirling around in my mind for the past week and I believe it contains some beautiful analogies for the complexities of marriage, what it causes in us and for us, and the perspective we need if we are to ever fall in love or fall back in love if you feel like you're not quite there at the moment.
Have you ever traveled to a mountainous part of the world when it was cloudy and rainy? You look out your windows and you can see almost nothing but the ground. Then the rain stops and the clouds part and you catch your breath because there, towering over you, is the magnificent peak. But a couple of hours later the clouds roll in and it has vanished, and you don't see it again for a good while. This is what it is like to get to know a Christian. You have an old self (Ephesians 4:24). The old self is crippled with anxieties, the need to prove yourself, bad habits you can't break, and many besetting sins and en-trenched character flaws. The new self is always a work in progress, and sometimes the clouds of the old self make it almost completely invisible. But sometimes the clouds really part, and you see the wisdom, courage, and love of which you are capable. It is a glimpse of where you are going.
Within this Christian vision for marriage, here's what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of the person God is creating and to say, "I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be a part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to his throne. And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, 'I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!'" Each spouse should see the great thing that Jesus is doing in the life of their mate through the Word, the gospel. Each spouse then should give him- or herself to be a vehicle for that work and envision the day that you will stand together before God, seeing each other presented in spotless beauty and glory.
My wife, Kathy, often says that most people, when they are looking for a spouse, are looking for a finished statue when they should be looking for a wonderful block of marble. Not so you can create the kind of person you want, but rather because you see what kind of person Jesus is making. When Michelangelo was asked how he carved his magnificent David, his reply is reputed to have been, "I looked inside the marble and just took away the bits that weren't David." When looking for a marriage partner, sac must be able to look inside the other and see what God is doing and be excited about being part of the process of liberating the emerging "new you." - Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, pg. 114
If you choose to embark on the journey of marriage as a Christian, you will soon find that it can be the most treacherous, beautiful, and adventurous undertaking of your life. You will not always see the beauty of the towering mountain peak or have the constant clarity to know exactly where you're going, but you will gain the confidence of knowing that you are becoming more than anything you could have attained by travelling alone.