Drew and I are adventuring across Africa from Zambia to the coast of Namibia in honor of our one-year wedding anniversary. As people always say, time has flown by, and it feels like it was just yesterday that I was writing to you all about what it is like to be newly married. A year is still not a long time compared to the many that have gone before us, but it is significant for us in that we have never spent a year this close to another human before. And let me tell you, as romantic and lovely as many moments have been, we have also seen the difficult times that can take a toll on the first year of marriage. It has been wonderful, beautiful and amazing, but continues to be deeply refining as I see ugly parts of myself come out that I didn’t even know were there.
Goofing around and getting ready to enjoy the sunset along the Zambezi River.
There are days when I sit down and think about the ways I have been acting contrary to how the Lord has called me to live and treat others (including my husband), and I ask Drew, “Are you sure you want to be married to me still, even after all of this?” and he graciously replies to me, “Of course I do, I always want to be with you and nothing can change that.”
I am thankful for his sweet and devoted heart that I know I don’t deserve, but I am also thankful for the ways we have been able to journey with one another through our deepest wounds and darkest longings. We are not always the best to one another, but as we push through and process the hard times, I know God is using our marriage to make us stronger. He is using it to refine us and remake us into the humans He has called us to be. I found it described well this week in a verse from 2 Corinthians,
“And we all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV
Christian community, like what I have experienced with my husband, is something God can use to move in our lives. And as we are remade from one degree of glory to the next, it is His Spirit that is at work within us. He uses the people, the places, and the circumstances around us, to show His glory to the world. Not because of who we are, but because He loves us, and has chosen to manifest Himself through His children. We are His ambassadors here on earth. Whether it is in the way he has called us to raise our family, to treat our colleagues, or to respond to someone who asks us for help on the street, the way we live our lives is an opportunity to speak His truth and blessing to the world around us. As he says previously in the chapter,
“And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” 2 Corinthians 3: 2-3 ESV
God works through us to speak to other people’s hearts. Isn’t that amazing? So, as much as things like marriage, starting a new job, moving to a new place, or being kind to someone who doesn’t deserve it are difficult, God could be using it to tell others about who He is.
When I think about this kind of community, and the journey that Drew and I have been on, my mind drifted to this part of our wedding service:
Photo Credit: Alyssa Martin Photography
This is the table where Drew and I took communion together for the first time. God has moved significantly in my life over the past few years regarding the sacredness of communion, and I am still learning more about what this table means. I grew up in a tradition that celebrated communion once a month, where we passed around tiny little crackers and the smallest cups you have ever seen filled with grape juice. I remember a sermon that one of my pastors gave about preparing your heart for communion. Each month I got kind of nervous when communion came, and I tried to pray very earnestly and confess every sin I could think of and ask God to prepare my heart for communion.
However, as I got older I understood more, communion is also deeply about community. It’s about our community with God and our communion with one another who are committed to journeying towards the cross together each day. In my college church, we symbolized this community by taking communion together around a table with a real loaf of bread and normal sized glass of grape juice.
At our church in Denver, communion was the climax of each service. Gone were the days of feeling repentant/guilty once a month, as I was challenged each week to consider the worship service in light of my commitment to communing with Christ and what He did for us on the cross. This relationship should affect how I hear every sermon and how I am sent out each week to be an ambassador of Him in my community.
So, when Drew and I got married, communion was an essential part of the service we wanted, because we wanted to remember the meaning behind this sacred tradition as a couple, and its meaning rooted in Christ’s words from long ago,
“And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessings it broke it and gave it to them, and said, ‘Take; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Mark 14:22-25
We knew that we would have to come to the table together many times to receive healing and wholeness for the ways we treated one another and others around us. But we are committed to this process, because God is using it to make us new and taking us from one degree of reflecting His glory to the next. May we as the GLOW community also journey together towards the table, and spur one another on towards the kingdom of God that He is creating in each one of us as we partake together.
The beautiful Zambezi sunset we were waiting for