Monday, September 03, 2007

124 Days ~ When Sinners Say "I Do"

"When Sinners Say 'I Do'..." The title of the book quickly grabbed my attention a few weeks ago. Not only is the author affiliated with Sovereign Grace Ministries, but every review emphasized the author's focus on mercy and forgiveness in marriage. Needless to say, I was interested. I also requested the trusted opinion of my dear friend and fellow reader who also gave a clear and enthusiastic recommendation of Dave Harvey's book (and not because she's trying to sell books at Lifeway). But wait a second...was I crazy these past few weeks to think that I could squeeze in yet another book, and not one required for class? I walked in and out of Lifeway a couple of times this past week with other tasks in mind, whether buying a card for a friend or purchasing the next book on our reading schedule for Systematic Theology. Everytime I thought about purchasing this book, one more book to add to my seemingly endless collection, images came to mind of wedding plans, reading for all of my classes, working 35 hours each week, keeping up with the Hebrew language, and remembering to eat and sleep somewhere in between. No, I thought to myself, I am not going to buy another book right now. How silly to think that I would actually have the time! Well, I bought it on Thursday. Other thoughts came to mind as I was skimming over the chapter titles and deciding that I was going to invest in this particular book: reading from older, much wiser men and women on the matter of forgiveness and grace in marriage, the benefit of incorporating a book into devotional time spent with the Lord. Thoughts of school and work were put on the backburner as I remembered something a professor recently mentioned in one of my classes: "Not spending time with God is like deciding not to breathe." Maybe it sounds extreme at first, but think of the admitted truth behind such a statement. What are all of these tasks and events that fill up our days and weeks when our lives are void of devotional time with the Lord? That is precisely how it feels, as if the life has been zapped from things that really are good in and of themselves. But when we are not focused on Christ, when we tell ourselves day in and day out that we just don't have the time to rise early or stay up a little while longer at night to meditate on His Word, to spend time on our knees in prayer (both praise and confession), we find ourselves looking back on the day wondering why such a busy calendar of events could feel so empty... I am not an expert in the art of book reviews. I would much rather just provide a few quotes that have already been of great conviction in the first couple of chapters.
  • "What do all of us do in our marriages in some way? We all tend to deny our sin (while pointing out the sin of the other). By denying our sin, we devalue grace. . . . in ways that are very practical, Jesus is the only solution. . . . grace makes new beginnings possible. It challenged me to live like I really believe I can be a tool of God's grace." ~p. 12, Paul David Tripp
  • "We must not ignore our sin, because it is the very context where the gospel shines the brightest. Grace is truly amazing because of what we were saved from." ~p. 16
  • "...the gospel is an endless fountain of God's grace in your marriage. To become a good theologian and to be able to look forward to a lifelong, thriving marriage, you must have a clear understanding of the gospel. Without it, you cannot see God, yourself, or your marriage for what they truly are." ~p. 25
  • "But for us to become more like Christ, we must reckon with the fact that we are sinners; forgiven, yes, but still battling the inward drive to turn away from God to ourselves. Without such biblical clarity, we have no context for the cross and no ongoing awareness of our need for grace and mercy." ~p.29
  • "...until we truly understand the problem, we won't savor the solution. Isn't that your testimony? Haven't you seen that the more you comprehend the scope of sin's awfulness, the more quickly you flee to the Savior, now revealed anew in His glory, holiness, beauty, and power?" ~p. 30
If you are wondering as to the nature and wisdom of a particular book, you can at least know the author is off to a good start when the starting point of all content is the foundation and centrality of the Gospel. I began reading the introductory material (written by Paul David Tripp, another Gospel-centered, excellent author) after an argument I had with my fiance' that began and ended in a manner rather commonplace in regard to my own sin and manner of reaction. I look back at that exchange now and can see so clearly (clarity in hindsight, yes) the patterns that are so prevalent in how I respond to the man who is going to be my husband in a few short months. I have much to learn, and I know that many moments of confession and seeking forgiveness are in store for the future. But I also know that I am a sinner saved by grace. I am responsible for my own sin, rather than the tendency to project onto him and not confront myself. Through prayer, repentance, and time truly spent with the Lord, I hope and trust that He will make me into the tool of grace I am intended to be as a wife and life partner to this godly, patient, Christ-centered man.


Adrian said...

You'll have to let me know how your book turns out. We received sound advice that every couple should read a book on marriage every year and a book on parenting every year that they have children.

And yes, I was just remarking that marriage truly, truly is a crucible for holiness. Things I never would have noticed about myself outside of marriage are thrown in my face. Not that Bill throws them there, but through my interaction with him, God makes it quite clear where I need to make changes. I'm grateful for the difficulty of all this, because no matter if Bill and I live "happily ever after", I will be moved more toward holiness. This is partially why I think you hear marriage is good, marriage is hard, and marriage is a lot of work. All of it is true.

As a side note, I like that you're taking the marriage and family class this semester. How appropriate. ;)


ColoradoDreaming said...

That sounds like a good book and I am proud of you for working so hard on your marriage even before it has begun. That is wonderful! I know your marriage and husband will be very blessed by all you are doing. I can't wait to see you!

Gretchen said...

I hope you're gleaning from that book as I am. I got a free copy that was damaged -- YES! It is good, you're right!