a real God, a real marriage, and a real love

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” 
-Ephesians 1:4-6
I used to think love makes life richer and more beautiful. But I was wrong. Life, with all its mess and muddling, makes love gain in beauty. 

The years have certainly worn on Morgan and me a bit.

This week, my soul feels empty. I have worked and fought and sung with all my might these last few weeks. I’m happy, but tired and ready for a break. 

I’m playing Christmas music in early November and lighting fires even though it’s still warm enough to swim. My heart is clinging to the precious promise of Ephesians 1: I’m chosen and loved simply because it pleases God to make me His child.

I’m clinging to the man who chose me, too.

Ours is a velveteen marriage, held by a God whose love for us makes us real. He sees our wrongs, our sins, our shortcomings, and forgives us. He pours His mercy into our hearts for one another so the forgiveness can be passed on.

Like the stuffed rabbit in the proverbial tale who found that love made him real as it tattered and wore him, we can’t help but be real after all these years.

Not that we’re always good at loving each other. We’ve carried each other around and occasionally dropped one another by accident. Selfishly we dragged each other through the dirt a few times. 

At first glance, from afar, we look a lot less scuffed up than we are. But if you watch or listen for long, you learn the truth: we don’t really deserve each other. We have forgiven greatly, sacrificed much, believed the best, endured the darkness hand-in-hand, and rejoiced together when dawn broke with all its glory. 

The love in our hearts is our most precious possession, growing exponentially with the wrinkles on our faces and the days crossed off on the calendar.

God’s love goes on and on, never diminishing or failing. It’s more real than anything else we have ever known. It never fails us, even in the darkest fears, the loneliest moments, and the angriest storm.

With that love coming to the rescue again and again, real is all we know how to be. The realest things are often invisible and rarely tangible, but when they touch you, you are never the same again.

Life slips through our hands so quickly, and the memories fade into dreams of what once was. But the love birthed in those memories is ours forever. And it is the most beautiful thing we will ever behold.

So today, I’m treasuring the new knicks and scratches on my life, and filling up the emptiness with as much love and comfort as I can. I have just this one life, this one man, this one family, this one calling, this one chance to live for and in and through Christ.

And all I want is to do it well.

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.” -1 Corinthians 13:12-13 (The message)