"I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.....And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. " Philippians 1:3-6, 9-11 ESV
This is our wedding text. I remember when we picked it, I chose the New American Standard Version, because NIV and New King James didn't say "partnership." They said "fellowship." I was marrying a guy who was studying to be a pastor, maybe even a missionary. We were partners in that.
I was even a little ticked that the pastor focused his sermon on the prayer, rather than on the first part, the partnership, the journey we were embarking on together. That's why I chose it. That's what a marriage is, isn't it? Instead he went through the gifts that God would give and how He would sustain us and sanctify us. I didn't like that I was irritated about that. But I was.
The irony was, I chose not to say "obey" in our vows because I felt the weight of the Law in that. The Lutheran Worship text said "regard as the I regard Christ" and I was fine with that. After all, I try to obey Christ. I was concerned others wouldn't understand what I meant if I said "obey," and I knew what a huge failure I would be at trying to keep that vow. I'm a stubborn, untrusting soul, and I know it.
Looking back now, if I had any common sense, the word "partnership" would've freaked me out way more than "obey."Because you want to talk about not being able to keep something...at least the way I intended it, and it is that word. I've turned my back on that concept so many different times its amazing. And it is only by the grace of God that we are still married, happily married.
Understanding the doctrine of the Divine Call, I am happy not to be a partner in the ministry. But I turn my back on the things I should do often enough, and cause pain frequently. I often sin in expecting my husband to be a more perfect partner than I am.
The one thing I can say looking back over the last sixteen years is that Pastor Barth was right. The prayer is where the emphasis should've been. There's the promise. Christ is bringing the good work He began in us to completion, though it will not be complete until He returns. Over the years, we have grown in love, knowledge, and discernment together, in ways we didn't even think at the time that we needed. And Christ is certainly our righteousness. We could not stand before God at all without being clothed in Christ. It was a solid promise that Christ was and is sustaining our union.
I am so blessed to have my husband, and I don't deserve him in the least -- as I don't deserve ANY of the blessings that God has so richly blessed me with.