Saturday, June 12, 2010

In the Spirit of Wedding Season

Today we celebrate the wedding of my cousin A to his beautiful bride, K.  The wedding season is already in full swing, and T and I certainly have had marriage on our minds, having just celebrated our 4th anniversary a few weeks ago.

Marriage is truly an amazing gift to those who are called to it.  I love and marvel at the way that weddings remain days of amazing celebration and almost mystical allure, despite the fact that the institution of marriage itself has crumbled so much in our society today.  There is something about weddings that seems to harken people back to the hope of what Love, lived out, can do for two people, two families, the world.

But a wedding day is just the beginning, an introduction to the epic journey marriage can be.  Tonight, T reminded me of the other side of marriage, the side we are aiming for and building toward.  This week's issue of Sports Illustrated is honoring John Wooden, legendary former UCLA basketball coach, who died last week.  The opening excerpt of the cover story beautifully recounts Wooden's extraordinary love for his wife, Nell, of 53 years:

"If death had granted him a moment to convey the sentiment, John Wooden would have declared his passing last week at age 99 a happy transit.  After his wife of 53 years, Nell, died in 1985, the old UCLA coach came to regard life as essentially time to bide until he might be with her again.  For two decades he had taken Nell to every Final Four, first as a conquering coach and then as a conventioneering one, but without her he couldn't bring himself to go.  During his first years as a widower Wooden slept atop the covers of their bed so as not to have to slip beneath them alone."  ~Alexander Wolff, Sports Illustrated, June 14th 2010

How will we get to that final day of marriage together, loving each other more each day along the way?  The following poem is a favorite of T's...he often shares it in toasts to couples at rehearsal dinners.  It highlights what we feel it takes to maintain the strength of love and marriage through the pitfalls of life.  It is by John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church.  It is long, but worth it, and I have included only a portion of it here.  It's message:

"If you now aim your wife to bless,
Then love her more and love her less.

If in the coming years, by some
Strange providence of God, you come
To have the riches of this age,
And, painless, stride across the stage
Beside your wife, be sure in health
To love her, love her more than wealth.

And if your life is woven in
A hundred friendships, and you spin
A festal fabric out of all
Your sweet affections, great and small,
Be sure, no matter how it rends,
To love her, love her more than friends.

And if there comes a point when you
Are tired, and pity whispers, "Do
Yourself a favor. Come, be free;
Embrace the comforts here with me."
Know this! Your wife surpasses these:
So love her, love her, more than ease.

And when your marriage bed is pure,
And there is not the slightest lure
Of lust for any but your wife,
And all is ecstasy in life,
A secret all of this protects:
Go love her, love her, more than sex.

And if your own should someday be
The craft that critics all agree
Is worthy of a great esteem,
And sales exceed your wildest dream,
Beware the dangers of a name.
And love her, love her more than fame.

And if, to your surprise, not mine,
God calls you by some strange design
To risk your life for some great cause,
Let neither fear nor love give pause,
And when you face the gate of death,
Then love her, love her more than breath.

Yes, love her, love her, more than life;
O, love the woman called your wife.
Go love her as your earthly best.
Beyond this venture not. But, lest
Your love become a fool's facade,
Be sure to love her less than God.

It is not wise or kind to call
An idol by sweet names, and fall,
As in humility, before
A likeness of your God. Adore
Above your best beloved on earth
The God alone who gives her worth.
And she will know in second place
That your great love is also grace,
And that your high affections now
Are flowing freely from a vow
Beneath these promises, first made
To you by God. Nor will they fade
For being rooted by the stream
Of Heaven's Joy, which you esteem
And cherish more than breath and life,
That you may give it to your wife.
The greatest gift you give your wife
Is loving God above her life.
And thus I bid you now to bless:
Go love her more by loving less."

~By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website:

For all married couples, and all those who, like my sweet cousin, are about to be--I am praying for you tonight, for the strength of your love and marriage.

1 comment:

SnoWhite {Finding Joy in My Kitchen} said...

Thanks for sharing those words from John Piper -- very timely as we just celebrated the wedding of one of my best friends.