Standing in front of the coffee maker this morning, I found myself praying for the wedding I’d be attending in a few hours. The mama and the bride especially were on my mind. As I talked to the Lord and asked Him to bless and pour out great favor on every detail of the wedding, several things occurred to me:

#1 Marriage is a big deal to God.

No matter how casually it is treated in our culture, marriage is still a sacred covenant created by God to represent and manifest His love for His people, to populate the earth and to consecrate us unto Him.

No matter how much our culture disrespects the sacredness of this covenant between one man and one woman, no matter how many couples cohabitate, no matter how many couples divorce and how many families are destroyed with biblical merit or not, no matter what: what God says is best is still best. We can think and reason and excuse ourselves from what God says. We can embrace sin and changing cultural tides and reject God’s word or decide it says what we want it to say, but God’s word still says the same thing it always has, and it is true.

God doesn’t change and shift. We do. The world does. The enemy is clever, deceptive and unrelenting, and even unknowingly, we can begin to think his lies have merit and maybe God and His word aren’t absolutely relevant, especially today. Maybe His word is a suggestion. Maybe it is what He wants to see us live by, but surely it’s okay if we don’t. After all, doesn’t He know we’re human and understand how hard it is to swim upstream alone?

God doesn’t operate according to our thoughts, reasoning and arguments. He operates according to His, and no amount of convincing ourselves changes Him. Convincing ourselves of a thing doesn’t talk God out of His thing.

#2 Marriage is God’s idea.

Creation began with marriage, Jesus’ first miracle was at a wedding, and in Revelation 19:7-9 it says:

“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!'” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”

Wow.

What God joins together let no man put asunder.

#3 Marriage reveals and glorifies God.

Marriage is a picture of God’s love for His children. Jesus is the bridegroom and the church is His bride. Jesus loves His bride so much that He suffered unimaginable torture, rejection and the excruciating death of crucifixion on the cross. He gave His life for her protection, provision and good! That is the degree of Jesus’ love for His bride! And because Jesus loves her so much, His bride can be completely yielded to Him, trusting, honoring and submitting to His authority. Because of His great love for her, it is the very best thing for her. This is Jesus in love with us. This is us trusting His love and resting without worry in His loving care.

#4 In my experience, it takes Jesus to make marriage work.

This right here is what I know to be the secret to a happy marriage. It’s not the absence of conflict and disagreements. It’s not being happy. It’s not both parties being perfect with one another at all times. It is both parties remaining in an intimate love relationship with JESUS so that JESUS, in His power and through the presence of the Holy Spirit, is manifesting His love for us as love for one another. And as we trust in HIM and HIS love completely, and we surrender entirely to His will, we are able to love our spouse in the way we love Jesus, and THAT is the secret to a happy marriage.

To my friend’s daughter, to my married daughter, to every summer bride, I say: Love Jesus desperately, completely and deeply, trusting HIM entirely with your heart and surrendering your will to Him. Surrender every idea you have about your marriage and how your husband should act and treat you. And from a place of surrender to Your Savior and God, the ONLY ONE who can love and protect you perfectly, love your husband, regardless of whether or not he acts in a way deserving of it.

To her new husband, my son-in-law and all summer grooms, I would say: Love Jesus desperately, completely and deeply, trusting HIM entirely with your heart and surrendering your will to Him. Surrender every idea you have about marriage and what you expect of your wife. Surrender every idea of how she should act and treat you. And from a place of surrender to Your Savior and God, lay your life down for her. Love her sacrificially. Give up everything for her, regardless of whether or not she acts in a way deserving of it.

If you will love each other this way, you will know marriage as God designed it, and it will be better than anything you could ever have asked or imagined.

#5 Marriage is a gift.

God is a good Father and gives good gifts to His children. Marriage is God’s idea, His gift to us, and it is good for us! It’s very simple, even as it is not always easy. I can testify, however, to the fact that marriage is indescribably rich, meaningful and life-enriching when lived God’s way. It is a good gift from a very good Father.

So yeah, marriage is a big deal. It’s a covenant before the Lord, and He is serious about marriage. Take your commitment seriously, first to Jesus and then to your spouse, and watch the Lord faithfully manifest Himself and His promises to you in your marriage.