Jennifer and Levi are longtime friends who married in August of 2013.
What could be mistaken as a simple boy-meets-girl narrative is nothing less than, according to Jennifer and Levi, a sustained gift of grace. As Levi says, “We are not a closed universe.” That means–at least–that Jennifer and Levi are not the ends and means of a good marriage. It means that God is the Sustainer of the covenant they keep, bringing it help and sustenance from beyond their own natural resources and limitations.
They are thrilled to think that they will never stop cherishing, loving, and delighting in one another for eternity.
And they celebrate that their marriage in this life is just a foretaste of the marriage of heaven and earth to come. They know that they now see in part, and then face to face (1 Cor. 13:9-12). They’ll recognize each other, see each other, and love each other with perfect clarity and consistency. So their marriage now is a long journey home, a home where author Wendell Berry foresees “all things to be at rest together.” It’s where all that the marriage endeavored to be, was destined to be, but partially failed to be will come into its full radiance. It’s for that reason that Levi is also heard saying to Jennifer, “I’ll never stop loving you. I’ll never stop living with you. Each day is one day closer.” He says this with as much level-headed sincerity and certainty as the most ordinary facts of life. Maybe even more.
But this life together now still matters, and partings are grievous because reunions are joyous.
So in this life, we have friendship, marriage, and membership in the body of Christ. Yet in a way that is distinct (may we say consecrated?) from all other human relationships, Jennifer and Levi share a common life on that journey. Common in its shared patterns of home-keeping, meal-making, and door-opening to old and new friends. Common in its rhythms of rest and work. Common in its daily fidelity. But it is hardly common in the sense of tedium or boredom or stifling constraint.
In our fully-realized common life with God, in his new creation, we will finally love all peoples perfectly, with endless creativity.
But until then, we can’t even handle getting that right with just one person. But marriage is not intended to make much of its members. It makes much of its mediator, none other than Jesus Christ, who passes between these two frail people and makes them far more than the sum of their parts. Grace is the new law of their universe. Marriage is its living document. Their shared, common life with Christ is the origin of their hope from first to last. Life isn’t theirs to ruin and it’s certainly not theirs to redeem.
In a word, we love because God first loved us. Love never fails.