New year oneness

Last Friday, in my first Catch of the New Year, I wrote about the magical wedding of a couple that had been separated for over 30 years. They each survived marriages to other spouses, and a long bout with alcoholism, only to find each other a year and a half ago, and finally be in a place to create and celebrate the culmination of that love that never died.

I wrote that they had created their own vows for their wedding, and they were kind enough to share them with me, portions of which I have chosen to share with you today. For instance, June wrote: 

I am so proud of you, your brilliance, your values, your devotion to Winter (June’s granddaughter) and me, your march for justice, from feeding the homeless to righting the wrongs in our temporary home here on earth. (Paul has been to jail repeatedly for feeding the homeless, which is a crime in his town.)

 

When you hold me, I can barely breathe, I am so filled with joy.

 

Dreams do come true, even dreams 33 years old.

Thirty-three years since they first met. We’re not talking about spring chickens here – young, beautiful bodies … taut skin. This is a testimony of unconditional love for the whole person – body, soul, spirit – without the effects of age or what culture defines as “beauty” even entering the picture. And nowhere is that more exemplified than in Paul’s vows to June.

I have been waiting all my life to spend the rest of my life with you.

 

The only one I can blame for my loneliness is myself.

 

I’ll never understand why I did this horrific thing to myself. For years I wished it would stop, but I was more afraid of myself than of you. And I’ll probably never understand that either.

 

I have studied pictures in my mind of you for decades, because I was afraid that if you ever saw me in the flesh, that the revulsion that I felt towards myself, would once again make me blame you for the pain I caused myself. I felt that if you knew that I was doing this, you would feel sickened, afraid and pity me. But the truth remains, as it always has, that I love you more than I hate my loneliness and pain.

 

And now that we are almost there, soon everything we touch will explode, burst into flames or burn to ash. History destroys and negates itself with our every shared breath. I need you like life needs life itself. I want you bad, like a natural disaster. You are all I see. You are the only one I want to know, because you have brought your light to my darkness.

 

June, if ever you doubted that I didn’t love you with all that I am and all that I hope to be, the fault lies with me. I hope and pray that I have quieted those fears, and at the same time instilled a new fear in you. The fear of an animal that wants its mate.

 

(This, by the way, is the PG-13 version.)

God has set up marriage to be an illustration on earth of Christ’s love for the church. The passion of Paul’s love for June, therefore, is just a glimmer of how much God loves us and wants to be one with you and me.

My thanks to Paul and June for letting us share a little in their joy at the beginning of this year, that we might more clearly understand God’s love for us and the depths to which He was willing to go to win us back. He did it all – life, death, resurrection – for us. I believe He would do it again if He had to.

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. (John 17:22-23)

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2 Responses to New year oneness

  1. Thank you, John, for sharing – and, also, June and Paul for permitting John to share! – this story. I think it would be accurate to say you’ve presented a darn good “conceptual metaphor”:
    This man & woman with bumpy pasts – at long last – restored and united, full of passion, pressing forward together toward a future filled with forgiveness, promise, peace, and….
    And likewise, before too long, Christ & His Bride with a stormy and sorrow-filled history – at long last – restored in perfect bonds to one another, full of passion, pressing forward in unified purpose to forgive, to love, to serve. to comfort, to offer hope, promise, peace, and welcome to all, and…

    I confess, I abandoned – became estranged from, if you will – Christ’s bride several years ago;
    haven’t stepped foot inside a church or fellowship hall except for funerals.
    But Jesus hasn’t abandoned her.
    While I’m guilty of being cynical, critical, and dismissive of today’s Church, Jesus still loves her with as much vigor, passion, and compassion as He ever did.
    I’m beginning to realize: Who am I to love her any less than He?
    Oh Lord, please forgive me: a sinner.

    After reading today’s Catch and other devotions this past week (see an excerpt below), I think it may be about time for me to humbly and contritely return to an “organized” fold.

    The following excerpt is from yesterdays (Jan. 4, 2015) “Our Daily Bread”:

    I find it intriguing that God describes us as His bride. Speaking of the church, He says, “The marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7 esv).

    This is a great thought for those of us who have become discouraged about the condition of the church. I grew up as a pastor’s kid, pastored three churches, and have preached in churches all over the world. I’ve counseled both pastors and parishioners about deep and troubling problems in the church. And though the church often seems unlovable, my love for the church has not changed.

    But my reason for loving the church has changed. I now love it most of all for whose it is. The church belongs to Christ; it is the bride of Christ. Since the church is precious to Him, it is precious to me as well. His love for His bride, as flawed as we may be, is nothing less than extraordinary!

    By Joe Stowell
    http://odb.org/2015/01/04/the-beautiful-bride/

    • jwfisch says:

      Thanks for letting us in on your process. Your discouragement is not unique. This may be where grace turned outward can help. Grace applied to me always becomes grace applied to everyone else. It has to. It is part of the nature of grace.

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