About 14 years ago a young Randy was sitting in the library of Multnomah Bible College and Biblical Seminary pretending to study while a young Emilie was walking through the same library looking to find someone she knew. Awkward compliments were paid, inexperienced flirting issued, and a “get together” was set to see a movie with a third friend so as to not call it a date, but this fake date turned into a real date to see a movie the next day. The movie: M Night Shyamalan’s Signs.
The plot of this movie is unimportant; however, almost prophetic was that a little girl in the movie always left nearly empty glasses of water all over the house. What began as a minor nuisance rose to an annoyance, only to be (SPOILER ALERT) the thing that saved the day in the end. After watching this movie and spending the subsequent hours sitting in his 1985 Toyota Corola talking about this and that, Randy told Emilie he was going to marry her someday.
If this story were a movie from the 1980s, this would be the end. Two young fools look into each other’s eyes as a soft rock ballad starts to play, one of them says a memorable line and the ballad starts to crescendo, the other responds to the line with a humorous line of their own, the two share a kiss while the music blasts and the credits roll. This, though, is not how life works. Life is full of mugs with 3 ounces of coffee.
I suppose I should explain.
Just like the movie, Emilie often (awf-tuhn, noun: kind word that basically means EVERY SINGLE DAY!) leaves her coffee mug with about 3 ounces of coffee leftover. When Randy asks about the coffee or dumps it out, Emilie swears she was just about to drink it. When the milk in the coffee curdles because it’s been there for 8 days, Emilie smiles and delightfully washes it out saying how happy she is to have her favorite mug back. Again, just like the movie, this was a minor idiosyncrasy that grew into an irritation but has in recent years become a reality check in our marriage.
Does the daily…I mean often left 3 ounces of coffee bother me and do I wish it didn’t happen? You betcha. But I have realized that a marriage is comprised of two specifically flawed people. Two selfish, covetous, prideful sinners who when left on their own would end up hating each other for the sin they see in the other. Biblically speaking, a marriage is made up of two sinners who have decided to come together as a physical example of Christ and the Church. Is Emilie sinning in leaving her coffee out? Of course not, but it is certainly is a good reminder that unlike the sappy 80s movies, a biblical Christian is to, as JI Packer put it:
“Look not for a partner whom you do love passionately at this moment but rather for one whom you can love steadily as your best friend for life, then to proceed with God’s help to do just that”
In other words, a biblical marriage is not based on how your partner makes you feel, but rather your spouse is a physical reminder to maturity and an aid in your sanctification to be slowly transformed into the image of Christ.
All of us who are married are distinctly aware of our spouse’s 3 ounces of spoiled coffee that is left to rot on a table somewhere, but we must not forget our biblical mandate to be imitators of God, as beloved children and to walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:1-2). I don’t know what’s going to happen with the 3 ounces of coffee. I’m fairly sure it’s not going to be the secret to stop a race of invading aliens, but it might just help me to be more like Jesus. And in the end, this is the goal of a biblical marriage.