Two disciples walking together on a journey with Jesus coming alongside and speaking to them. Can we not see an image of marriage in this scenario? As a matter of fact, as I ponder the many occasions of sitting with a married couple, the bull’s-eye that I’m usually aiming for is: “What do you feel the Lord is saying to you individually and corporately?” Single or married, our greatest asset will always be found in hearing what the Spirit is saying. To say it another way: Recognition is your best ally. This is a solid marriage principle and also one of several good litmus tests for singles as they evaluate a “potential.” A person’s history carries on into their marriage. Although the marriage ceremony is a covenant promise, we need more than promises before we commit to a “till death do us part” relationship. We need to have a proven track record that transcends romance and all of the “putting our best foot forward” transpiring during courtship. Know the history of your potential mate to be. Have they heard from God; are they hearing from God; and do you trust that they WILL hear from God when the added responsibility of marriage is placed upon them? It’s not perfection that we seek, only consistency. I’ve seen too many tragedies of “missionary dating” gone south when the promises made were barely an inch deep and birthed out of desperation to marry. Let me move on to speak more about marriage.
The adventure of marriage is a “joint discovery.” Moving at a similar pace will be of great benefit. In the Emmaus Road story, both disciples walked with Jesus and received revelation at the same time. Seasons of joint growth are the most pleasant in a marriage. The testing comes when one heart burns and the other does not; when one set of eyes are opened and the other remains veiled. (Luke 24: 31-32) Jesus is clearly breaking bread with us. It’s Him, no doubt about it. He is speaking truth, life, deep strategy, keys for our marriage, accurately targeting areas that He wants to heal. One problem: it’s not a mutual revelation. Enter “opportunity” – another chance for husband or wife to be like Jesus, to walk in His footprints. He understands what you’re going through. He was constantly seeing galaxies beyond what His companions were. I believe this is one component of the “fellowship of His sufferings.” Hearing this phrase usually conjures up thoughts of persecution or even martyrdom and these would certainly apply. But consider the challenge of living in the same house and sleeping in the same bed with a partner whose views are not always in agreement with yours. It’s a very lonely road, a difficult one to walk.
The story tells us that “their eyes were restrained so that they did not know Him.” It was not that they were being prevented, but that they were seeing something new. A cross-reference to Mark’s Gospel clarifies this: “He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country.” Without a doubt, marriage is “another form” of life. Change is here to stay. The only thing that never changes, is that there will always be change. The person you married, or plan to marry, will never be the same after you marry them. In all fairness, growth and change is the goal of every person and so of course they won’t be the same!
The most encouraging part of the Emmaus account is that after the recognition was birthed they remembered when it was conceived: “Hey, now that I think of it, my heart was burning inside of me when Jesus was talking to us.” (My paraphrase of Luke 24:32.) Note: the response times of spouses will vary!
No matter how difficult your marriage walk might be in this season, know that there is at least an ember in your spouse. You may have seen a fire in times past; know that it can burn again! If you’re single and not sure if he or she is the one, watch for the re-igniting with a sustainable burning. We all have our ups and downs but beware of the roller coaster with no level track. Remember: it’s not about perfection, but consistency.
There are precious jewels to be had in the fellowship of Christ’s suffering. They come with grace that you might endure having to wear them alone. Hold on. He is walking with you still and will never leave you.