The merging of households continues here in North Louisiana, with the financial sector next to meet the marital welder.
Yesterday, my new bride and I visited my bank to get her name on the accounts, and, while such a move may seem harmless at first glance, it was a major step for me. You see, for the last 25 years I have been financially independent. Calling my own shots. The Big Cheese. But now I’m in the midst of the biggest of life change outside of salvation itself: becoming one flesh with another person in all facets of life. To say that it is simple, easy and effortless would be like saying that loose leaf black tea is inferior to loose bean black coffee, a fact that we all know is wholly untrue. Becoming one flesh is quite trying! But it is also completely worthwhile. This week we have also started to merge auto insurance and utilities.
Lately, Shannon and I have been recognizing more spiritual parallels as we merge households and experience this exciting new life together. Yesterday, after leaving my bank… our bank… she turned to me and said, “You know, babe, I can see a spiritual aspect to what we just did.” I knew exactly where she was going, but out of courtesy I still asked, “How so, love?” She explained that when we get married and become one flesh, we give up our independent ways and give ourselves to the other person in our marriage. It’s like when we come to faith in Jesus Christ and surrender ourselves to Him. He wants us to surrender our all — especially those independent ways that don’t conform to our new relationship with Him. He asks us to take up our cross‚ surrendering our lives as we know them, as follow Him in discipleship. Well said, my dear!
The pastor who married us, Randy, talked about how marriage is the coming together of two independent bodies to create “one flesh.” In the original Hebrew language of Genesis, “one flesh” literally means, “sharing the same skin.” Two people become one person. I keep seeing this action every time something that used to be mine — books, for example — becomes ours. My couch? Ours. My truck? Ours. My dishes? Ours (but probably not for long…). Every time we merge some aspect of our lives, we become more united into one flesh.
There are other parallels, too, such as in the realm of serving. One thing I have discovered, and I think Shannon feels the same way in reverse, is that when I serve my wife I receive greater joy than when I am served by her. I truly receive pleasure from simply seeing her happy, healthy and stress-free! I never would’ve thought that could be true back when I was an individual. Back then it was all about me. Serving Shannon is like when we serve God out of the freedom of our hearts. When we serve Him, in whatever form that may take, I think we will find true joy as a result (Eph. 6:7-8). There is something pure, something sweet about serving another person with just motives. “Love one another,” our Lord repeated to His disciples. “No one should seek his own good, but the good of the other person (1 Cor. 10:24),” Paul wrote.
Coincidence? I Think Not!
Maybe it is just the result of getting old, but I see reflections between heaven and earth everywhere. Perhaps I see them because both were created by God, and because He dwells in both places.
The Celtic Christians some 1500 years ago emphasized the importance of recognizing the presence of God in simple daily activities, from farming to feasting. God is the god of the everyday, the Church leaders taught, and not some distant being too busy being distant to care. God cares about both our daily bread AND our daily activities.
“For the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it,” Paul reminded the Corinthians. To the Athenians, he said, “The God who made the world and everything in it — He is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in shrines made by hands. Neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives everyone life and breath and all things (Acts 17:24-25).”
Maybe it is this relationship — of God, who made heaven and earth and dwells in both places freely, with His creation — that leads the spiritually attuned to see Him in both places.
One of my favorite movies is the 1989 comedy “Joe Versus the Volcano” (don’t ask). In it, a wealthy-but-wandering boat captain is sailing hero Joe Banks out to a remote Pacific island when she tells him, “My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement.”
The aforementioned Paul put it this way, “The unbeliever does not understand the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The one who is spiritual discerns all things… [for he has] the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:14-16).”
Maybe I can be so bold as to say that when a believer in Jesus Christ is walking in His ways, that believer starts to see the things of God in the ordinary relationships here on earth. He or she sees the winds of heaven in the stuff of earth. This Christ-enabled enlightenment is what led the late Rich Mullins to declare, “Everywhere I go I see You!”
It is my prayer that as you walk with Christ in step with the Holy Spirit that you will see evermore how the things of heaven are reflected on this earth, both in events and in relationships.