What unites our hearts as husband and wife beyond our own biological family is God’s family.
One of my favorite authors, Henri Nouwen wrote a book called “The Return of the Prodigal Son” based on his contemplation of Rembrandt’s painting of the same name which hangs in The Hermitage in St. Petersburg. As the son returns to his father, he is welcomed by a loving embrace depicted in the painting: muscular, intentional, affirming and holding, on the left side. On the other, the touch is different: gentle, caressing, light, tender, comforting, even elegant. Both are covering; both are protective. It all begins with the hands, masculine and feminine. Both complete the family which is where we find home.
We all long to come home. Whether if it’s after a long day of classes, or an eventful work day, or even a day at an amusement park, by the end of the day we just want to rest and be at peace. Sometimes it helps to lean on someone and tell them about the good, the bad and the ugly. All it takes is someone to say “Everything’s going to be O.K.” That’s what family is for, regardless of how imperfect it is. Family goes through cycles in life, riding through the ups and downs but nothing will stop us from celebrating victories, persevering through trials, and hoping for dreams together. Not only is this true for my family but also in God’s family, the greater community where we learn to serve as Christ served.
My husband, Gary and I have been married for 21 years now, journeying along in God’s adventure. We have very different styles in the way we perceive and do things and nothing draws more spirited dialogue than a discussion about raising our own children. Maybe this is what keeps our family life colorful. He helps troubleshoot my IT issues; I try to help him understand his dreams from the night before. I’ll confirm a hunch he has, and he’ll help me decide blue or red. What he loves the most, though, is when he hears me gasping for air because I’m laughing so hard at his jokes. What I love the most is when we can hold hands walking down a fairway during a golf game.
What unites our hearts as husband and wife beyond our own biological family is God’s family. I have been given so much, God’s love, His provision, His freedom, His healing. When I frequently remind myself of this truth, my heart is so overwhelmed, it overflows. As partners, we want to reach out to others to be God’s family. We love to dive into God’s word and let God expand our minds in the knowledge of Him. We yearn to receive His promises and learn to walk with courage in obedience. We want to practice what we know, live authentically, lift each other up, be accountable to one another, all the while, modeling for the next generation what partnership in Christian marriage looks like. We are by no means near-perfect but it’s real. When you enter our lives, what you get is reality TV.
In the words of Teresa of Avila (1515–1582):
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours…
Let us be hands of Christ wrapped with grace to reach out to touch and care for others. We are compelled by His love, because it is in His most perfect embrace that we find WE have arrived home.
除了我們自己的家庭以外，神的家庭也一樣聯繫著我們兩夫妻的心。神給予我很多 – 祂的愛、祂提供的一切、祂的自由、祂的醫治。當我經常提醒自己這個真理時，我的心就被淹沒，並溢出愛。作為拍檔，我們想一起帶其他人進入神的家庭，我們渴望潛進神的話語裡讓神擴濶我們認識祂的程度；我們渴望接受祂的承諾，學習用勇氣和順服跟神同步；我們想實踐我們所知道的、活得真實、互相扶持、互相鼓勵，而且同時為下一代活出在基督裡的婚姻的模樣。我們絕對不完美，但是非常真實。當你進入我們的生活時，你看到的就像電視裡的真人秀一樣。
Image credit: flickr.com/thomashawk