Marriage as God Intends

Selfish individual that I am, the very first thing I did after learning that The Crossing was planning to simulcast Matt and Lauren Chandler’s Mingling of Souls Conference was to lock down mid-Missouri’s coolest sitter, my daughter Claire. Because “CB” is in high demand in the Columbia-area babysitting market – she drives her own car, ​kids love her and yet the house is clean when she leaves – it was quite natural for me to assume that someone else would try to schedule her for Feb. 19th and 20th, and I wasn’t taking any chances.

Mingling of Souls Marriage Conference​I know I need to be at this conference, because all of us who have been married for more than 30 minutes know that marriage can be a great blessing…but it takes consistent effort to sustain a good relationship between two sinners under one roof.​

​And then, of course, it’s an opportunity to hear Matt Chandler, and listening to that guy talk about anything is worth your time.

​I have so much respect for Chandler. Like a lot of my friends, I’ve been listening to him speak for years and have never once come away feeling like his message was flat or uninteresting. Probably my favorite thing about Chandler is that he combines a very-clearly-urgent message with an approachable (and often hilarious) delivery. Sure, the guy mercilessly pokes pins into the puffed-up egos of his hearers, but he artfully balances that with the parallel priority of making sure we all know that we are deeply loved by God…even in our foolishness.

It’s also clear after several years of working in ministry that “learning about God’s design for marriage” is an inexhaustible topic, and​ though by God’s grace I think my marriage is solid (and I’m hoping my wife agrees),​ there is no doubt in my mind that I still have a long way to go​. (I’m certain she agrees with that!)​

Last week, my wife and I were privileged to open up another semester of DivorceCare at The Crossing, and we ​began class with a very full room of participants​. I am thankful for everyone who braved their own fears and showed up anyway; as a man who has previously gone through the intense emotional pain of divorce myself, I’m pretty sure that everyone in the room ​is a lot braver than I would have been circa 1997-1998.

Still, taking another tour through the curriculum never fails to remind me of the serious mistakes I made and encourages me to be transparent in sharing my foolishness with other people I’ve only just met. My prayer is that they would, with God’s enabling, at least not make things worse than they already are by falling into the common traps awaiting all divorced men and women.

Another prayer that dwarfs all others is that the day would come when DivorceCare comes to an end due to lack of need. That’s a pretty audacious prayer, of course, but I figure God can do anything He wants, and not one of the facilitators I work with would be saddened to hang up their name tag​ if it meant no one enrolled for class because marriages around us were thriving.​ Of course, for that prayer to be answered to any degree, marriages around us would have to be transformed by the gospel, and the hearts of both husbands and wives would be drawn to live out God’s selfless love toward their spouses on a daily basis.

So with respect to the upcoming Chandler conference, I can’t help but pray that God would use what Matt and Lauren have to say to good purpose in our community, ​​​such that there ​may be a few more empty seats next time our class rolls around. (Maybe the Chandlers can even help me address my ​own ​selfishness?) May God, in His great mercy, make it so.

Matthew 19:4-6 (ESV)
[Jesus] answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

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