Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
This morning I woke up thinking about the pain of couples who quit loving one another. I was reminded of a dream that is unquestionably the most powerful and vivid dream I’ve ever had. This dream occurred several years after Donna and I went through our marital difficulties (1992) that were due primarily to me – my being unkind and behaving like a jerk as I relieved the stress from my job on her. At the time of the dream, our marriage had become the best it had ever been. But in this dream Donna and I had divorced one another and that was the given for what then happened.
In the dream I walked into a small room and there in front of me was a small narrow table with Jesus sitting on one side of the table and a chair opposite Him. I sat down across from Him and looked up into His face. I don’t remember what he looked like but I will never forget his eyes and the tones in His voice.
With a smile on his face and joy in His voice He looked at me and said, “Tell me how you loved my daughter who I gave to you to be your wife.” I did not say anything as my heart sank. (Remember in the context of the dream we had divorced.) His smile vanished and there was no longer any joy in His voice when He began a series of rhetorical questions. By the rising tone in His voice with each question, He knew the answers.
With great deliberation Jesus asked, “What do you mean you didn’t love her?!” “What do you mean you left her?!!” What do you mean you divorced her?!!!!” I cannot begin to describe the shame and distress that I experienced in the dream; hearing my Lord’s voice say again and again with growing incredulity and disapproval, “WHAT DO YOU MEAN….” He wasn’t yelling, but if you’ve ever been called on the carpet and confronted by your father or a boss for serious mistakes you’ve made, you get the idea.
Then, all of a sudden, in the dream, I was Donna and the scene repeated itself. Jesus asked with a smile and joy in His voice, “Tell me how you loved my son who I gave to you to be your husband.” When He began the “What do you mean…” questions I immediately woke up. What a mixture of pain and joy – pain at remembering the dream – joy and relief in knowing that Donna and I truly loved one another and had not divorced.
This dream was a priceless gift to me because it allowed me to see and experience the incredible importance that our Lord places upon marriage. It also gave me a gut-wrenching taste of displeasing Him. I cannot begin to describe how excruciatingly painful that was – and still is. I pray that I never forget it.
But importantly, the dream generated a core conviction in the depth of my being that loving my wife is a primary way that I love Jesus. If I don’t love her, I don’t love Him – and He and His word describe what love is. Love is a whole lot more than affection. What joy there is in waking up each day able to love our Lord and love our spouse!