Today my Dad and I participated in our first-ever mud run.
Was it fun? Very. Was it muddy?
On the way there, I reviewed Ephesians 5:25-33 (I just started using this awesome Scripture memorization method), of which I'm going to post only the portion relevant to this article:
"So husbands ought also to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the Church, because we are members of His body. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh."
It wasn't until later on today that this verse really hit me.
A few days back, I went for a run in a different pair of shoes than I was accustomed to. Probably not the best idea a few days before a race, but I did it anyway. Sure enough, I earned myself a few colossal blisters. They were pretty impressive, and they weren't entirely gone by race day. Of course, I ran anyway, and, of course, the sandpapery effects of gritty mud seeping into my shoes and socks weren't exactly the most soothing balm imaginable for my poor feet.
Naturally, when I got home from the race I cleaned myself up- including my recently-blistered feet, which warranted extra attention. Now, if I were to go into the details of what that entailed, to lots of you it would probably seem- well, gross.
But was it gross to me? Even if it was, did I really care? No. And why? Because my feet are part of my body. I need them. I'm attached to them (in more ways than one). In a very real sense, I cherish my feet. They are precious to me. My life would be radically changed if I lost my feet; how much worse if I did so because of my own neglect to care for them.
So the unpleasant and painful tasks of cutting and peeling away dead skin, washing out dirt- these things were natural and easy for me to do because I knew that they needed to be done. I knew that my body would benefit from them. I care about my feet!
Was I, the whole time, begrudging my feet for the care that I was giving them? Was I grumbling about how gross the task was? Was I bemoaning what a wretched man that I was having been given feet in the first place? Did I think that, maybe, I would be better off if I just chopped my feet off and didn't have to put up with them anymore?
Of course not. That would be ridiculous.
But how often do we see this very thing done by husbands to their wives?
What is more ridiculous? To cut off a pair of feet, or to tear apart a human soul?
Will I look at my wife as an accessory to my life, to be treasured when I feel like it and discarded when no longer interesting?
Or will I see her as an integral part of myself, who I can toss aside as easily as I can toss aside my arms and legs?
When she needs to be washed in the water of the Word, will I see it as a gross task?
Will I clean her heart like I would clean a toilet?
Or will I clean her heart like I would clean a wound in my own body?
Will I say, "Oh God, if only I didn't have this woman to put up with"?
Or will I say, "Oh God, thank you for this woman; what a blessing she is; how much less of a man would I be without her! Please help me to address this issue in a way that will bring healing and sanctification to her heart quickly and gently!"?
Will I see her like I see my own body- as a blessing, an amazing gift from God, something which allows me to do so much more than I could without it, which needs to always be treated well and sometimes given extra care and attention- and even that is a joy?
Or will I see her like I see my lawnmower- something which I have to fix when it's broken and which is rarely of any use?
When was the last time you seriously considered amputation as an option when you had an injury? Yet how often and how easily is divorce seen as a valid option?
Why does it seem so ridiculous to cut off an irritating foot, but not ridiculous at all to get rid of an irritating wife? Where is the disconnect in our thinking?
When we think about our body, we assume the necessity of every part. We wouldn't want to part with any limb. Problems with our bodies aren't seen as something to blame the body for, but rather something to help the body out of. We know that we need our bodies; we appreciate them; we can't live without them; they are integral to our being. It's the disease or the injury that is the enemy- never our body. We assume that our body is a good thing going through difficult trials.
But when it comes to our spouse, do we do the same? Do we assume that she is precious, a good gift of God, a treasure, our right hand, our best friend and constant companion, the crown of our strength, the multiplication of our abilities? Or does she become the enemy, instead of the sins which she is dealing with?
It breaks my heart to see so many divorces happening even within the circles of people whom I know and love. I hope and pray that God will help us men to truly understand what this verse means, and to truly nourish and cherish our wives as our own bodies; to realize that she's not something we're stuck with, but someone we're blessed with. Oh God, please change our perspective of marriage from one of coexistence to one of camaraderie; from one of survival to one of victory; from one of endurance to one of exhilaration!
Oh God, if the time comes where I shall take on the title of husband, please help me to rejoice in the wife of my youth! Oh that this joy and exuberance and oneness and friendship would characterize the marriages in the Body of Christ, just as it characterizes the marriage between Christ and His Body!
Indeed, may that joy and exuberance characterize us all, always, and in all of our relationships! For even those of us who aren't married yet can be practicing many of the same things with those whom God has given us already.
I shall conclude with a retelling (and it's fictional; I'm not married yet!) of our original story with a little twist:
A few years ago, my wife and I got married. Over time, as we ran the race of life, we collected our share of dirt and grime in our souls, so sometimes when we would rest during the race I would clean myself up and also focus on addressing things that I saw in my wife which might warrant extra attention. Now, if I were to go into the details of what that entailed, to lots of you it would probably seem- well, pretty taxing.
But was it taxing to me? Even if it was, did I really care? No. And why? Because my wife is part of my being. I need her. I'm attached to her (in more ways than one). In a very real sense, I cherish my wife. She is precious to me. My life would be radically changed if I lost my wife; how much worse if I did so because of my own neglect to care for her!
So the unpleasant and painful tasks of cutting and peeling away godless worldviews, washing out sin by the water of the Word- these things were natural and easy for me to do because I knew that they needed to be done. I knew that my very flesh would benefit from them. I care about my wife!
Was I, the whole time, begrudging my bride for the care that I was giving her? Was I grumbling about how exhausting the task was? Was I bemoaning what a wretched man that I was having been given a wife in the first place? Did I think that, maybe, I would be better off if I just divorced my wife and didn't have to put up with her anymore?
Of course not.
That would be ridiculous.