When the Ray Is Gone, the Sun Still Remains
We drafted this post prior to the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd—and the subsequent protests around the country calling for an end to racial injustice. If you want to learn more about how Pastor J.D. and the Summit are responding to issues of race and injustice, (1) consult our Commission for Oneness and Reconciliation, and (2) watch our most recent worship gathering, which centered on race, justice, reconciliation, and the gospel.
We hope the following post, while not borne out of current events, nevertheless enriches and encourages you.
–Chris Pappalardo, Editor
God designed marriage—and everything that goes with it—to give us a taste of his love.
Jesus alludes to this reality in Matthew 19, quoting from Genesis 2. This is the same passage Paul quotes in Ephesians 5, pointing out that in the first marriage between Adam and Eve, God was giving a picture of his love for his people.
Not only does the gospel give us a pattern for how to love our spouse; ironically, it also shows us how we can be happy and fulfilled in a season when we’re not married (even if we really want to be) or how we can be content in marriage (even if it’s a disappointing one).
C.S. Lewis, who did not get married until later in his life, compared the blessing of marriage to a ray of sunshine. He said that when you step outside and the sunshine hits your face, you look back up along the ray to the sun, from which it emanates. The sun is the source, and the ray is just the manifestation of it. Marriage, he said, is like the ray pointing back to God’s beauty and love. And when something in life, some cloud, obscures that ray, you are still in the presence of the sun, even though the ray is not shining on your face.
The morning after my first date with my wife, Veronica, I went to my seminary class, where a friend asked how the date had gone. I responded by whipping out a piece of notebook paper and listing every adjective I could think of to describe Veronica. After coming up with about 65 words, I laid it on the desk and said, “That’s what I think of her.” My friend gave it a glance (it was more than he really cared to hear), then I stuck it in my notebook.
Later, after we got engaged, I went back and found the notebook, got the list framed, and gave it to Veronica on our wedding day. I put a C.S. Lewis quote under the list: “You represent something that can never be taken away from me.”
I have no guarantee that Veronica will be with me forever. I do, however, have a guarantee that if something does separate us, the beauty and love and tenderness I experienced through her will not completely disappear. Through them, I experienced something of God. They emanated from the sunshine of God’s love, not Veronica’s, and that love can never be taken away.
It is a tremendous blessing to interpret all of life this way—even if it is also a tremendous difficulty.
It goes beyond spousal love, too. I have experienced a shadow of God’s love in all the people who have cared for me throughout my life—my wife, my parents, my friends. I even sense God’s love in the love I feel for my kids.
All these are rays pointing me upward to the sun from which they emanate.
When we believe the gospel, it provides a pattern for marriage—and life—that will equip us for seasons of plenty and seasons of want.
When the clouds of life obscure a ray—through disappointment or adversity or bereavement—God’s love will supply what we lack because even when the ray is hidden, the sun of his love remains.