Thursday, May 1, 2014

Destination: Marriage?

 You may only be able to relate to the second half of this post, because I'm starting out with an observation made of a specific crowd. A group that I've been part of, and a mindset that I believe I've been set free from. This is the "Christian young adult" group, but the type of thinking many of us have adopted can - and I believe does - cover over all people. (So read the whole article anyway!) It is the belief - subconscious or not - that reaching a certain goal or attaining that special something or someone will make us happy.... and that after that is achieved, there really isn't much else to worry about. That's the I-can-die-happy-now, paradise plateau, that-would-be-the-life mindset. All too often that applies to marriage, or more specifically, the wedding. You see, a Christian young adult, who adheres to the standard of purity in the Bible (keep the marriage bed pure) know that they can't experience the "couple effect" until they've walked down the aisle and said "I do." Since I believe that most everyone naturally longs to love and be loved by someone their very own, getting hitched can become a big priority, especially when a person reaches their mid 20's. And, I'll be frank, what young adult doesn't want sex?! Pure and simple. It's this blend of emotional needs and physical desires that drives many to think "if only I were married!" It seems like the one and only gateway to fulfillment in life! But I think that marriage is the last thing on their minds. Confused? Let me explain:
 When the goal becomes personal satisfaction, no matter how lofty the goal or how long it takes to get, it becomes so shallow and short-lived. If the goal is to get married, after the bells have rung, the cake is eaten, and the dress is trashed... well, goal accomplished... now what? Same thing with a business-related dream. "If I could become the CEO, or if I could make 100 grand this year, or prove to my co-workers that I have what it takes, then I'd be happy." That is why so many successful, privileged, and seemingly happy people end up depressed and taking their own life. The dilemma is not that their goal wasn't lofty enough, or that they didn't work hard enough, it's that they are programmed for so much more. Some have coined it a "God shaped hole." The Bible says that "if I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing."
 No matter what you do, if you are not living for the greatest cause of all - an eternal one - nothing is accomplished; nothing is gained. That doesn't sound very fulfilling to me! No wonder the richest country in the world is clinically depressed. America may currently have the most economical weight, but is depleted of its original heart of Christianity.
 So what is this "Eternal, Greatest Cause of All?" Love? We turn on the TV, pick up a magazine, flip on the radio, talk to a friend, or walk through a grocery store, and we see and hear all about this thing we call "love." But only the love of God really counts. Yes, marriage (not just the wedding) is wonderful, and becoming wealthy and influential has great benefits, but all of those start and end in this world. As a Christian, my purpose transcends this world. My purpose is not to become great, be happy, or even to love others. It is to love God and bring Him glory. If this sole purpose is not foremost and forefront in my life, anything I do will be empty. When my fleeting life ends - as all of ours will - and I stand on the threshold of eternity, it won't matter if I found Prince Charming, saved the world, or became personally fulfilled. None of those things last! The last few verses in 1 Corinthians tell us that "love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away."
 So "set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." (Colossians 3:2) Live for the Kingdom of God, and follow His lead. Become fully in love with Him and your destination will transform into heavenly glory!
 The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Philipi "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation." (4:12) The significance of this statement is that Paul was rotting in prison as he penned these words. But he knew that he was accomplishing the task that God had called him to do: instruct and encourage the early church. Also, as he lived out his last days in a dark, dank cell, he was able to witness to the guards, and eventually the governor. His goal wasn't to become a church celebrity, nor to free himself from a gloomy fate, but to bring glory to God. He understood that this mortal life is so incredibly short in comparison to eternity. Only when our life goal reaches beyond our own selves will it become fulfilling and worthwhile. When our destination becomes God's calling for us, our destination becomes eternal!

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