Last August my cousin lost her husband in a horrific car accident a week after we started the Vincent Love Challenge. When I posted about my first stick the day of the accident, she was the first to encourage us in our pursuit of a healthy marriage, just hours before her marriage tragically ended.
The first love challenge stick that Tim pulled was to write me a love letter. I will spare you all the gushy details, but he wrote me that he realized that what we have is an absolute gift from God. He thanked me for being a dedicated wife and mom. In fact, he wrote, "I couldn't have a better mom for my son." He prayed that he could be an example of God's love to me as I have been to him. After I read it, I immediately read it again. And again. I cried. And then I put it on my nightstand where I pull it out every now and then to read again.
Tim and I used to write letters all the time when we were dating. He would create his own stationary for me on his computer. In the top right corner of every page, he would place a picture representing whatever stage of life we were in on that day. On my graduation day, he wrote me a letter with a graduation cap in the corner. There were books when we were studying, bikes on days we rode the trails, coffee mugs, and one day, a wedding ring. It was like we were capturing that moment and not letting it pass before we expressed, in writing, exactly how much it meant to each of us that we were experiencing that moment together.
I'm not sure when we stopped writing letters to one another. After a short while of living together after we married, the habit just died. So this letter was really special to me. Tim had made the time to write me a letter.
After I read the letter for the first time, I also noticed the dishes had been done. I asked him, "Wait I'm confused. Which stick did you pick? Letter or dishes?"
He replied, "Letter. I don't need a stick to do the dishes."
God gave us our marriage, and God can certainly take it away, as he did for my cousin. When you realize that what you have is a precious, rare, beautiful gift, you take care of it. You work on it. You love it. You stop and appreciate that you are experiencing this gift together.
The gift reminds you of the giver. The gift reminds you that God loves his church the way we love one another. The gift reminds you of the greatest GIFT that God has ever given. In his love for us, he gave his very son, Jesus Christ, so that we could be right with Him and never part with Him.
So that makes me look at my marriage differently. It is representative of the greatest gift of all. Representative of the crazy kind of love that God is made of and gives freely to us. So I want to have a crazy kind of love marriage, not the kind in romance novels or chick flicks. No. One that shows a love that began before the foundations of the earth. One that originated when God breathed life into us and called us good. It is bigger than Tim or I. Bigger than my cousin and her late husband. It spans greater than our first and last day as a married couple. It begins and ends in Christ Jesus, the Alpha and Omega.
So let me encourage you with this. We don't know when this gift will come to a close. We don't know when our marriages will end. But we are loved by a God and this love never ends. We can experience it in short glimpses in our marriage, but we will experience it one day in full. In the meantime, go write your spouse a love letter and do the darn dishes.