Date night – 1982. Tom took me to the theater to see a new movie that was receiving rave reviews. It was Monday; we had both worked all day; I was 7 months pregnant with our first child, but we couldn’t wait. We made sure no one told us about the movie so as not to spoil it.
Later, we wished someone had!
You see the movie we’re talking about had a name that was powerful and sounded like another action-packed, heart pounding movie we had recently seen and loved – Raiders of the Lost Ark.
This movie was nothing like it.
The title, Chariots of Fire, was deceiving in that there were no grand chariot races, no overcoming great obstacles – at least not the obvious kinds we had imagined. This race was of another sort – the race of one’s personal best and willingness to endure.
We’re sad to say, we weren’t up to such deep thinking that night. In fact, I fell asleep! We were amazed when the movie continued to do well in the box office. When it ended up winning the Academy Award for Best Movie – we were shocked. I remember asking, “Did we miss something?”
Apparently, we had! Actually, the whole point of Eric Liddell’s amazing testimony.
What does this have to do with marriage? Everything.
In the next part of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 it says, “Love endures ALL things.” This endurance can be related to a runner in a race. We all run in one way or another – but are we willing to endure? To move past the obstacles in the road and run with our whole heart until the end?
Half of all marriages in America end in divorce. They fail in this important aspect of love – to endure ALL things. We have had our share of enduring hardship: a miscarriage, two back surgeries, loss of jobs, barely enough money to pay the bills, death of loved ones, confession of secret sins, forgiveness of those sins, national crisis as well as personal crisis. We have learned how to wait patiently for answers we had no certainty would ever come. We have learned in the waiting that God is faithful. We have grown in our ability to listen because we have endured conversation that wasn’t fun. There has been much endurance, and after all these years we see the benefit.
When a runner first begins training just making it the first mile can be torture. But as he continues training something happens – the muscles and heart begin to work together finding a rhythm that brings a steady pace. Ground is gained and with it the freedom to run full speed ahead. This is the moment when records are broken. When a runner reaches this place there is joy in the running no matter how painful it may be.
Eric Liddell said, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”
In the same way, God made us husband and wife for a purpose. He has given us all we need to grow in godliness and the ability to endure. When we do we feel His pleasure and this makes it all worth it.
In what ways are you having to endure?
Do you remember the Jewish character in that movie? It was the Jewish runner that made it possible for the Christian runner to win his race. Do you remember how/why?
All I remember is that he Liddell refused to run on Sunday, but I can’t remember what his Jewish competitor did!
I’ve just been reading a book called “For Better – The Science of a Good Marriage” by Tara Parker-Pope that points to some recently improving statistics about divorce rates. Regardless, I think too many people see marriage more as an institution of convenience than as a sacred covenant. Endurance seems little valued these days. I certainly agree that if more people looked at their marriages with a long-term view, they might do more to “train” themselves for the long haul.
You are so right – Scott. Remembering we are making a covenant before God not just our spouse will fuel this resolve. Thanks for commenting!
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I think there is a case for saying that marriage is learning to endure. Anyone who would tell me different I don’t know if I could believe them. Marriage fills a spot that most feel they want filled but it is a learning process and one to be endured in the beginning.
So true, Shawn. Endurance is most needed and often most lacking.