Growing up in a port city, I (Ryan) often sat with my dad and watched as massive cargo ships came and went from the bay. The ships were so heavy they had to shut off their engines more than a mile out just to slow down to a manageable speed prior to docking. It was the captain’s job to aim their bow to get within tugboat range.
Marriage is like a cargo ship. It’s massive, packed with value, and more powerful than we could ever comprehend. And like a ship without a rudder, a marriage without the gospel will careen out of control. It’s only through Christ that we are able to understand unconditional love, feel the full weight and joy of covenant, and experience firsthand the radical grace and forgiveness necessary for loving one another until death.
We have yet to meet anyone who feels like they’ve got this whole love thing on lockdown. Everyone doubts. Everyone feels inadequate to some degree. You know why? Because we are! You, me, everybody. We all have gaps in our ability to give and receive love. On our own, we’re all missing something.
Of course, entire industries exist around the idea of love—defining it, finding it, expressing it, feeling it, and understanding it. It makes sense, when you think about it. We’ll try anything if it promises to bring us closer to true love and authentically connecting with another person. Dress right, eat right, act right, speak right, impress the right person, and then you’ll have love—you’ll be loved.
The problem is that nothing works. At least not forever.
Just like taking pills for pain, our effort helps us feel better for a short time, but the sickness remains. We have this nuisance of our own humanity and that of others. We must face—and defeat—the problem of sin if we’re ever going to experience true love. We need a deeper cure than anything we can find in this world. We need to be healed from the inside out. Everything else is a distraction. We’ve been taking painkillers but what we desperately need are the hands of a skilled heart surgeon.
In other words, we need Jesus.
How have you tried to improve your marriage in the past? How long did the improvements last? Why do you think that is?