I remember during my driver’s training class, the instructor asking us what age we thought were the most dangerous drivers. Obviously, it was us, the teens. Nope. Then the seniors? Nope. The most accidents are caused by the distracted, over-confident, middle-aged. Apparently, after you’ve been driving 10 or 15 years, you try to push the auto-pilot button that only works on really fancy cars, not your mini-van. You’re late for co-op, you’re parenting the back seat, you’re counseling your friend on the phone, you’re eating breakfast, Kabamb! You’ve just rear-ended the sweet little old couple on their way to their 8th funeral that month.
Driving isn’t the only time an auto-pilot button would come in handy. The more the responsibilities mount, the more it seems that something’s gotta give. Some area must not need so much of my attention. Sadly, it seems that marriages tend to be the old hat. It’s a real temptation.
We’ve just had our 12 year anniversary. By some accounts a blip, but it’s the span of my adulthood (and probably a little of my childhood too). Since then, I’ve been thinking about why my marriage does not feel like an old hat. Why does my heart still flutter when Chris Spencer walks into the room, even a room piled with laundry and knee-high people? I still swoon because he keeps surprising me. Over, and over, and over, he keeps me on my toes, not with flowers, chocolates, or promises he doesn’t intend to keep, but with growth in holiness. His sanctification is sexy (I can’t think of another way to say it)!
Since sanctification involves dying to yourself, you don’t need to wait on the other person to start. Give it a try. You know those recurring squabbles that are so routine you could script them? Next time one of those starts up, cut it off. Say sorry first, keep that remark to yourself, or reshape that face. Husbands, make decisions and be responsible for them. Wives, tighten up your flapping lips. Girls, study Proverbs and ask your husband good questions about his work. Guys, read old authors and give your wife timeless courage. Be warned: you may want to have a plan to get the kids in bed early 😉
The thing is, our own death is not surprising. It’s happening. We think an auto pilot button would at least let us enjoy the ride . But sacrifice, willing death on behalf of another, that’s shocking. And Christ’s death for us is downright scandalous. As we grow into his likeness, we’ll grow in dying. And in dying he’ll bring life, even to a marriage.