A Foot-Washing Ceremony
When Christ was here on earth, He made an incredible statement of His selfless love for His bride when He removed His outer garment, wrapped a towel around His waist, and washed His disciples’ feet (John 13:1-5). By this act, He was declaring to His bride, “I will love you selflessly. I will serve you with all I am and all I have. I will lay down My life for you.” The world has never seen a greater demonstration of poetic love than Christ’s sacrificial, outrageous love for His bride. Though we are so unworthy, the King of the universe stoops to gently wash our feet.
On your wedding day, make this same declaration to your spouse by tenderly washing each other’s feet as a symbol of your commitment to serve each other selflessly for a lifetime. You might choose to have an actual foot- washing ceremony as part of your wedding, as Leslie and I did. Or you might choose to wash each other’s feet in a different way. For example, you could write letters to each other, stating your commitment to pour out your life in selfless service for the other person. Then frame the letters and display them in an important place as a reminder of your decision. Whatever way you choose to wash your lover’s feet, the important thing is to declare your commitment to selflessly serve your spouse and, even more importantly, to live out that commitment on a day-to-day basis.
WEDDING & mARRIAGE
A Poetic Love: Beyond Roses and Rhymes
By Eric and Leslie Ludy
CBN.com To love a spouse amid the flame of honeymoon passion is human, but to love a spouse all the days of your life, even before you ever lay eyes upon that person—this kind of love is divine.
Pop-culture love certainly has its appeal. To be a real-life character in Sex and the City or on the sitcom Friends would have been the ultimate dream for many. It’s a devil-may- care lifestyle, red hot with passion and loaded with all sorts of fantastic, exhilarating sensations.
But at its core is selfishness.
Pop-culture love craves sexual fulfillment at the expense of every other virtue—even at the expense of having a real relationship that actually works.
Selfishness and lifelong romance are like oil and water; they naturally separate when thrown together. And most modern couples find out too late that pop-culture love doesn’t work in marriage. It’s like trying to run a car engine on a fifth of vodka—it will burp, snort, and bang to a halt only a few miles down the interstate of life.
When God becomes our Wedding Coordinator, the first thing He scraps is the notion of selfish love. He is into forever relationships, not five-hour flings. His goal is not only to make our relationship work but to make it thrive romantically for a lifetime. To do that, He must introduce us to a far superior version of love. God’s version of love is not trumpeted by modern media outlets or heralded in the saucy self-help magazine articles of our day. This superior version of love is God’s select brand from His own personal stock. All the money in the world cannot purchase it, but He offers it freely to those who simply ask.
But there is one catch. We can’t have God’s love and maintain a pop-culture lifestyle of selfishness. Selfish love and God’s self-less love can’t coexist—which means things have to change in our lives when God’s love enters the picture. The theme of our lives can no longer be about what we want; it has to be about what God wants and about what is best for those around us.
Selfish love comes naturally to us—we don’t have to labor to be excellent at it. But God’s love on the other hand is opposite our bent. We have to allow our lives to be remade to exhibit its glory.
A Poetic Love
For most, the highest ideals of love bring to mind moonlit serenades, dozens of roses, and ardent rhymes that troll the depths of a lover’s feelings. These pictures of romance are wonderful, but they barely scratch the surface of what is possible with God’s version of love.
God invented marriage, romance, and sexuality, so wouldn’t He naturally know best how we can maximize these things in our lives?
God designed the beauty of romance to stretch through an entire life, not to sputter its final breath after the honeymoon ends. God’s version of love goes the distance—He’s a fan of things that last forever. And to help us in such a forever kind of endeavor, He offers us a version of love that can withstand the harshest winds of time. It’s not a pop-culture love but a poetic love—so fabulously beautiful that it is nearly impossible to describe.
A poetic love is a selfless love. It’s noble, it’s pure, it’s tender, it’s dignified, it’s grand…it’s heavenly. We all have our moments of selfless nobility, but poetic love isn’t a one-time heroic deed. Rather, it’s a lifelong lifestyle of romantic service to our spouse.
Poetic love is made up of three magnificent ingredients that we can blend together consistently in a marriage relationship to create a “heaven on earth” experience. Let’s look closer at these three ingredients that are capable of launching our marriages into the stratosphere of divine beauty.
Thoughtfulness is the catalyst to romance. Without it, a relationship is flavorless and one-dimensional. Many couples practice thoughtfulness while they are falling in love. They write poetry, sing love songs, buy flowers, and express their affections by doing a thousand crazy things that only someone in love would do.
Falling in love is a fun and amazing experience, but very few of us realize that the thrill of thoughtfulness for a spouse was never meant to be isolated merely to the falling-in-love season of a relationship. In fact, most couples today completely miss two far more significant times to practice thoughtfulness in a relationship.
First, God intended thoughtfulness to be lifelong. That means lovers should put it into practice even before they ever meet, and then it can be the catalyst to romantic beauty throughout married life. The secret to God’s poetic love is that it is proactive and persevering. It goes into action long before the first hello is exchanged. And it continues through sickness and health, for richer and for poorer.
Imagine what you could do for your marriage if, before you ever met your spouse, you were thoughtful toward that person. And because you cared for your future spouse so much, you set your life aside just for that person…heart, mind, and body. Imagine if from a young age you had served your future spouse, prayed for him or her, written love letters and love songs for that person alone, and shooed away everyone else who vied for that sacred position in your life.
What if you wrote your spouse love letters long before you ever knew his or her name? Imagine what an amazing gift you could give your spouse on your wedding day.
This is Christ’s model for loving a spouse. His love for us is proactive. Jesus died on the cross for each of us and dealt with the penalty of our sin long before we personally needed it. And this is the model He desires to teach us for our wedding day and for all the years of romance that will follow.
Even if you haven’t been practicing this kind of proactive and poetic love before now, start today. Start investing in your marriage now, before you walk down that aisle.
God intends you to marry only one person, so begin living as if only one person will ever have access to your heart. That’s God’s way.
If you are thoughtful toward your spouse throughout your lifetime, then of course you will also be sexually set apart just for him or her.
A white dress is an outward symbol of a bride’s inward purity. A wedding day, as God originally intended it, is a celebration of two young people who have faithfully waited their entire lifetimes just for each other, to bond together and finally enjoy the rewards of their patience.
Sexual devotion is not just a bonus blessing in a marriage. It is a foundation for God’s forever kind of love. God created a proper context for the exploration of sexual intimacy, and when that context is kept sacred, a couple discovers an amazing depth of satisfaction in each other and quickly understands why God says to wait.
What if you have violated this sacred boundary? Hope is not lost—you can experience God’s wonderful gift of restoration, but you must allow Him to take you through a rebuilding season. Let Him refocus and reestablish the foundation stones of success at the core of your romantic relationship. Let Him wash you clean and give you a fresh start. God is in the business of offering beautiful new beginnings.
Make the decision to love your spouse by being sexually set apart for him or her from this day forward. Jealously protect every expression of physical intimacy as a sacred treasure for your lifetime lover. Sexual allurement is seemingly all around us in today’s world. But instead of treating it casually, give your spouse the gift of faithfulness by guarding your heart, eyes, and mind from the temptations of the culture. Let your desire be for your spouse alone, and you will discover the fullness, freedom, and beauty of God-centered sexual intimacy.
To sexually set your life apart for your spouse out of duty is one thing. But God desires you to be sexually set apart for your spouse not from a sense of obligation but as an outflow of selfless and purposeful love.
We could easily complain about this whole purity thing and bemoan the fact that people without convictions seem to have all the fun. But that attitude only breeds discontent and offers no benefit to your future.
When God plans a wedding day, two people set their lives aside for one another willingly and with great enthusiasm, knowing that every challenge and difficulty in doing so only serves to strengthen their future marriage relationship. God never wastes a test of patience.
The final piece of God’s poetic love is outrageous generosity. God wants to build lovers who love as He does—with abandon. They give everything, with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. They sacrifice and face the most challenging difficulties for the “joy set before them” (see Hebrews 12:2).
Before you get married, learn to give everything—and learn to give as if giving were the greatest pleasure, because it is. Learn to stop figuring what you should be getting out of the deal. Learn to give without a required payback. Learn to give simply because God has given so much to you.
A poetic love is rare these days, but it is not out of reach. It will cost you everything, but what you receive in return is worth more than everything you possess now and everything you could possess for a thousand lifetimes.
Remember, God doesn’t need to imitate our culture’s style of love and romance. God has His own version of love—a poetic love that far surpasses anything Hollywood could ever create.
A wedding day marked by poetic love is a wedding day that evidences the nature of God Himself—the original Author of true and lasting love.
Excerpted from A Perfect Wedding: Inviting the Author of Romance to Make Your Day Beautiful by Eric and Leslie Ludy, Copyright 2006. Published by Harvest House Publishers. Used with permission.
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