If you are listening, then who are you listening to?
It is Valentine’s Day.
As I spend the day preparing part of the food for our Chinese New Year party this weekend (the London gathering of all my relatives here in the UK) I thought I would subscribe to Audible. It was incredibly easy to download the App and purchase an audio book.
I have been very happily married for nearly 30 years but it is still good to remind myself of God’s take on marriage. Having read this book a few years earlier, I appreciated not having to sit still with a pencil in hand to make notes in the margin. Instead I can have a knife or peeler in my hand as I listen to the book.
If you have read any of Timothy Keller’s books then you know that his research is extensive, the theology is sound and most importantly, his thoughts always flow in a logical direction. There were many passages which made me think yes that is quite right, isn’t it?
Here is one such passage from an early chapter in the book:
The Bible begins with a wedding (of Adam and Eve) and ends in the book of Revelation with a wedding (of Christ and the church). Marriage is God’s idea. It is certainly also a human institution, and it reflects the character of the particular human culture in which it is embedded. But the concept and roots of human marriage are in God’s own action, and therefore what the Bible says about God’s design for marriage is crucial.
If God invented marriage, then those who enter it should make every effort to understand and submit to his purposes for it. We do this in many other aspects of our lives. Think of buying a car: If you purchase a vehicle, a machine well beyond your ability to create, you will certainly take up the owner’s manual and abide by what the designer says the car needs by way of treatment and maintenance. To ignore it would be to court disaster.
Plenty of people who do not acknowledge God or the Bible yet who are experiencing happy marriages, are largely abiding by God’s intentions, whether they realize it or not. But it is far better if we are conscious of those intentions. And the place to discover them is in the writings of the Scripture.
Another really good point that the book makes is that we used to look to God for ultimate direction and fulfilment. Now, in our current secular age, we look to other things to fill that void. If we project that expectation on to the other person in a relationship, we will always fail to find happiness because no human can ever fill the gap that is designed to be filled only by God. When one person says to another ‘you complete me’, that can never be the whole truth. In fact, if someone were to say that to you, the burden placed on you to live up to that ideal would be crushing.
On to dinner. Tonight there is heart-shaped pasta stuffed with pumpkin and stir-fried mushrooms with a sprinkling of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. For the difference between this and Parmesan see here for an interesting read.
Then we will have some steak. To accompany the steak I made some peanut sauce. This combo has a strange history in that for our honeymoon, Mr Gochugaru and I went to Kuala Lumpur. One night we had dinner at The Ship Restaurant and being a man who really loves satay he ordered the steak and chose the peanut sauce instead of the more usual peppercorn or mushroom sauce. He really enjoyed it but I cannot remember if I ever cooked this for him at home.
So I am cooking that tonight.
And afterwards we are going to roll around the sofa…laughing our heads off watching Fresh Off The Boat. I watched eight episodes on the flight to and from Kuala Lumpur recently and I have to say, the show is so incredibly funny. In one episode, set on Valentine’s Day, Louis and Jessica Huang have their three children taken off their hands by their neighbours, in order to give them some space and time to themselves. They relish the thought of an evening alone to do the one thing they normally have no time for…which is to fill in their tax return. Mr Gochugaru and I laughed out loud because we can identify with that.
Finally, on a separate note but not entirely unrelated to marriage: after 30 years it is time to let go of the icing sugar flowers that decorated our wedding cake. I have been waiting patiently for this day. I had a recent look and realised now is a good time to say goodbye. Thanks for the memories.
The meaning of Marriage by Timothy with Kathy Keller, published by Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN 978 1444702163