A More Perfect Union

It’s really cool how everything in this world (the good stuff) boils down to a symbolism that has its root and meaning and signification in God. It says that it was “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to shew unto His servants…” (Revelation 1:1, emphasis mine) As always, (again, with the things that are good) we get a window on the incipience of something huge, beginning on high, being handed off to Christ and in turn diffused to and through us.

“This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:29)

In relation to marriage, Paul has, beginning back at the twenty-second verse, just lined out a litany of rules and regulations pertaining to the thing known as “Christian marriage”. He sews up his instruction with an admission that, “okay, I was actually referring to how individuals within the Body of Christ are to relate to their Lord. Not just marriage.”

Well enough alone

“His disciples say unto Him, If the case of the man be so with his wife (referring to the lust-filled whims of those who can’t commit), it is not good to marry. But He said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.” (Matthew 19:10-11)

That’s not me, I assure you. Maybe for a time I subconsciously excised that part of me that was looking out for “the one” and instead just looked out for number One (it’s capitalized because it’s not me). Yes, in my time of singleness before the Lord, the Father showed me how to protect myself and to grow and exercise my gift of discernment in order to keep those who would be detrimental to my health—spiritual and otherwise—out. But I was focusing on Him, you understand. I have always had the desire to get married and to meet the one (it’s italicized because I do believe that through the ebb and flow of will and desire, you meet the person God made for you). But it’s a fluid thing. Up till the last great heartbreak of my life, I had always thought I was smart enough—and also sensitive enough to the Lord—to know when I’d see her. I was pretty keyed in to the type of girl I found attractive and if they matched an internal-preference, uh, flow chart, I would pursue. And please understand, it isn’t about hair color or body type, it’s fluid. Not that it changes, either, and I’m not mercurial. There are things I find attractive and things I don’t. Simple as that. But again, there was that deep, wordless part of me that was holding back for God-knows-what. For a time, I understood that there were aspects to my psyche and perception that were skewed from having witnessed my parents divorce and so I held back because I was not ready. I should also like to make mention of the fact that during my time of infatuation (or convalescence between coupling attempts, whichever) I missed out on some with whom the Lord most definitely didn’t want me enmeshed. It’s always interesting to look back at the order of operations that kept me from getting involved with the wrong woman.

The main word of caution the Lord issued to me when I met “the one” (it’s in quotations because she wasn’t) came from Luke’s Gospel (7:19b): “Art Thou He that should come or do we look for another?” While in prison, John sent a couple of his disciples to Jesus in order to determine whether or not He was the Messiah. Jesus didn’t answer with “Yes I am.” We know what happens when He asserts Himself in such a manner (see John 18:6). No, Jesus answered very practically. He essentially said “look at the fruit”, the results: “Tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.” (7:22) When I met this person, I had never been so on fire for another individual. But, as God knows all things, He gave me this very simple watchword: How does she respond? And you know what? She didn’t. At least not in the way that I wanted and was holding out for. This isn’t in any way against her, just that someone who was your cosmically betrothed would have indicated that s/he had the same love for you that you had for them. And so was shattered that paradigm of meeting “the one” at the outset. Praise God. In talking to John’s disciples, Jesus also says, at the end of the list of things He’d been doing that proved He was Messiah, “blessed is he (and she), whosoever shall not be offended in me.” (7:23) The person with whom your’e looking to unite cannot blunt your faith. Don’t let it happen.

What followed was one of the hardest lessons I had ever been blessed to learn: that of understanding how Jesus feels when He wants someone who in turn doesn’t want Him. He was the only person outside myself who truly understood the hurt I had felt. The rejection and bitterness and resentment. He validated me even as He let me in on a part of Him that is reserved for those who are willing to suffer in order to get there. I also learned that Jesus is Lord over believers who are so radically different from one another that the only thing in common is each other’s spiritual heritage. Different minds, different hearts, different genders and different life trajectories.

Taking a side

“But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.” (John 19:34)

See, it’s a fluid thing. The same thing happened to Adam when “the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Both Adam and Jesus were asleep (more so in the case of Christ) and so God could operate. The same act of opening Adam’s flank in order to produce Eve is made perfect in the splitting of Christ’s side so as to resurrect His Bride (see Revelation 19:7-9), the Body of Christ. But there is necessarily a death of sorts. In the case of us—I write this to single, unmarried men in the service of God who desire a wife from Him—we must have that part of us turned off, for lack of a better term, so that God can surprise us with someone wonderful.

“And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam (speaking of Christ) was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from Heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:45-45-47)

The Third Wheel part two

“Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.” (Proverbs 16:3)

I left the counseling session feeling stripped. Not in a bad way, mind you; just disabused from any ways of thinking that were dragging me down, relationally. Isn’t it remarkable how you walk around feeling normal and then you undergo a change in your thought pattern or process and while your personhood comes out intact, you end in seeing your former mindset as thoroughly ineffective? Amazing. Because you don’t see bad thinking, while you’re in it, for what it is. I certainly didn’t know I was harboring some strain of thought (like an evil gear) that would’ve prevented me from meeting the person to whom the Lord would have wanted to introduce me. I brought the handwritten notes the pastor’s wife had taken down during our time together and folded it in quarters and retained them. She illustrated her idea of “clashing” for me and I wanted to really meditate on what she was saying—what I felt God was saying to me, through her. As I absorbed this newfound idea of “clashing”, it came to be symbolized by two gears. But that’s not clashing, is it? If two cars collide, that’s “clashing”. But if two gears (remember, one by itself is not a machine) rotate towards one another, they will continue to rotate and rotate by virtue of their cogs, or “teeth”. And yet I couldn’t see this. The symbolism doesn’t fit as solidly as it should to facilitate smooth cognition. I left the counseling session and shortly thereafter, the church (my friend and I elected start our own small-group thing) but that piece was temporarily broken for me. 

“There is a way that seemeth right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 16:25)

Going forward, I suppose the lesson learnt here would be that God doesn’t intend for us to run in place. In the case of my parents’ marriage (both of whom are divorced from one another), they did not mesh (symbolically speaking) and as such, things broke. But going forward requires that Third Wheel. And it goes without saying that God’s Spirit would need to be that Spirit within. My cognition has smoothed remarkably in the wake of the experiences at my old church, and I am more than grateful to have encountered the people there and still count them my friends.

“And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and His disciples, to the marriage.” (John 2:1-2)

In case you haven’t noticed, the whole point of this little story of mine is Marriage. If we as couples and as Christian individuals (the latter always precedes the former) do not have the Lord Jesus Christ as both the center and also (symbolically speaking) the third wheel to our transmission, we won’t go anywhere and eventually, we will break down.

The Third Wheel part one

“Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.” (Ezekiel 1:20, emphasis mine)

Two gears rotating against one another does not create forward motion. This is obvious, but I wonder. I wonder about the state of my mind sometimes. There has to be a third wheel on the one side (doesn’t matter the size) to create forward motion.

In the Summer of 2012, I had at a friend’s invitation/admonition begun attending another church. I’m not one to “church hop” but I feel the time had come. A strong dryness (how else can I say it?) had pervaded everything about the current church I was attending and so I felt a change was needed. I slowly began integrating and had met with the pastor—nice guy. He filled his schedule week-in and week-out (as most people tend to do) and I was grateful for the time. I felt good about our meeting and so every Sunday, I showed up and met my friend and his wife and we attended service. I came to find in the the ensuing weeks that I knew many of the parishioners; I also met the pastor’s wife and we got along well. She filled her schedule as well with counseling appointments and around that time a series of dreams that had dogged me (not in a bad way) for a number of years bubbled to the surface. Real quick: it’s because they were a narrative and that story over me was about to end. But I wasn’t fully aware of this and so I asked if I could meet with her and discuss this. She agreed, the calendar was marked and I was again grateful. Upon sitting down to our engagement and after small talk and pleasantries, I launched into my story. But rather than get into the theme of my dreams (I had come to intuit their interpretation and as such, didn’t really need help on that line), she pulled out a line I had uttered and that I hadn’t even noticed: “I refuse to marry someone like my mother”. She wanted to zero in on that.

“Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3)

She told me she saw “clashing”. And whether or not the description that came after was made up of exactly the words that created the following picture in my mind or not, I saw in my mind’s eye two wheels (gears) turning towards one another. This symbolized my parents and their (take a look at the scripture above) cross-purposes as to what a family under God’s direction might look like. Now, obviously, two gears—teeth and all—will mesh and rotate and create a simple machine. It goes without saying, obviously, that they are rotating towards one another and that, also, they aren’t going anywhere. Just running in place, as it were. I find this to be an attractive symbolism for one aspect of the marriage relationship. But, as I’ve been reminded many a time with reference to marriage: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) Even the most perfect, fairy-tale encounter/enmeshing/engagement of two individuals is merely a simple machine, even but a cog (tooth) in God’s plan. It may well encompass all our life and the life of our other. But. God’s always got other things going on. I digress. The two gears! That’s what I saw and like I say, whether it was explained to me just so, or not, the mental picture of two gears came to include the illogic of clashing. What had begun as a simple church-hop (okay) wound down to the very core of my thought process. How can two walk together? And how can two thoughts transmit if the very symbol of cognition wasn’t working correctly? If two gears are rotating in the same direction, and you bring them in and among one another, something is going to break.

“And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man which was blind from his birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, Master who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (John 9:2-4)

What begun as an unassuming dream-counseling session yielded two unrelated things: firstly, I was effectively able to localize what would have prevented me from getting involved with anyone under the intent of marriage (this realization is worth tomes). Secondly, I had around that time begun thinking about my own mental processes in the shape of a transmission—an innumerable number of gears rotating with the impetus of my spirit (“the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels”). And this session temporarily stopped the two that symbolized (wherever they may be in my mind/brain) my forthcoming marriage.

To be continued.