This message was preached at Woodvale Baptist Church on Sunday the 24th of September 2017.
Becky Turney will never forget the day she married Kelly, the man of her dreams.
The two were married recently in Alaska but the day would contain some sadness for Becky because in October 2015 her 19 year old son, Triston was killed in an accidental shooting.
On her wedding day, in honour of Triston, a chair was set aside for him where the family sat with a piece of prose indicating that he would be “watching from heaven”. It was a touching tribute but it paled into insignificance as a result of what happened next!
At the time of Triston’s death, Becky shared on Facebook that her son’s passing “was a tragedy and senseless (but) Triston was an organ donor and will be able to help someone else’s life…”
Becky had no inkling of what was to come on her wedding day.
Kelly (the groom) flew a young man named Jacob to Alaska to be one of his groomsmen and then stopped the ceremony to introduce him to Becky for the first time.
Why? Jacob had been born with a rare heart condition, had undergone a number of open heart surgeries and by age 19 was in desperate need of a donor so that he could undergo heart transplant surgery.
Becky’s son, Triston, was the donor of Jacob’s life saving heart!
Becky was overcome with emotion, hugged Jacob and was also able to listen to her dead son’s heart, courtesy of a stethoscope and now beating strongly inside Jacob’s chest. One of the photographers for the day later wrote, “…nothing prepares you for the beauty of this moment. Everyone was so moved by this and I had to share this amazing story.”
And this moment happened because a man named Kelly simply loved and cared enough for the woman he was about to marry.
“This is a man at his best!” I thought to myself as I read this story. He showed his bride that he truly cared for her and was prepared to go to great lengths so she would know he was truly concerned for her deepest needs.
We men are capable of truly great moments that demonstrate our courage, passion and love.
And we are equally capable of the worst of moments when we reveal only selfishness, pride and ambition.
King David was just such a man!
As a mere teenager he takes on Goliath when the rest of the Israeli army stands paralysed by fear and intimidation.
“God will give me the victory!” he declares and in a single moment his faith in God inspires a nation to glory as Goliath crashes to the ground.
When he ascends the throne he heals the divisions that exist and makes Israel the most powerful nation in the region.
When he learns of the death of his enemy Saul he is struck with grief and leads the mourners.
This is David at his best – gracious, filled with faith and generous.
But there are low moments – adultery, murder, a divided family and revenge.
This is David at his worst.
But in spite of his weaknesses, his love for God ultimately triumphs and he is remembered as “the man after God’s heart.”
God knows my weaknesses and He knows yours.
He sees our great moments and our not so great moments.
And he also sees our hearts.
What, then, are you bringing to your relationships – to your wife, your children, your colleagues and your friends?
Are they getting the best of you or the worst of you?
Don’t be discouraged by this – God does forgive our failures but He also wants us to step up and to bring our best. And the best we can bring Him is “a heart after His heart”. Everything else will flow out of that.
So come on men – we need a few more Davids and Kelly Turneys!
There is something very special about seeing an elderly couple who have been married for many years still walking hand in hand with each other.
For me, it is a beautiful and symbolic way of declaring that they have taken the journey of life together and they still choose to do so.
At some point in a marriage ceremony words along the lines of these will be made: “and they shall become one flesh.” It is an ancient way of describing the marriage relationship and it is filled with promise, potential and possibility.
Promise because when two people marry they begin a lifetime journey together toward “oneness”.
Potential because two people come together with different gifts, personalities, ideas, abilities and backgrounds that can be fused together to achieve what they could not do alone.
And possibility because of all the good that they may achieve together!
It is important to understand then, that oneness is not something that is immediately achieved once a couple has said “I do”.
Oneness is a lifelong journey, taken together and toward which couples progressively move.
I have been thinking about this for some time and recently I came across this description by Chuck Swindoll concerning the topic of oneness. (It’s always nice to find an author who agrees with you!):
Becoming one flesh suggests a process, not an instant fact. Two people with different backgrounds, temperaments, habits, scars, feelings, parents, educational pursuits, gifts, and interests don’t immediately leave a wedding ceremony in perfect unity. It is a lifelong project requiring wisdom, understanding, and knowledge … The whole idea of mutual acceptance, giving, listening, forgiving, belonging, and direction was implied. It is two individuals willingly blending into each other’s lives, desiring to share with and thereby complete the other.
‘One Flesh’ also has to do with the physical aspect of marriage. The sexual aspect of marriage is essential to the marriage as much as the leaving and cleaving. The success of the sexual relationship between husband and wife is directly proportionate to the success of the other areas of intimacy in marriage — emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and social.
What I am aware of though, is that many marriages do not experience this idea of oneness at all, even less are they moving towards it.
The question arises, in spite of the definition just given, what exactly is oneness in marriage?
It is certainly not some “mystical” experience that a couple has and which lifts you to a higher plane in your marriage!
Oneness is essentially a strong bond of unity that is built between a man and a woman as they grow in their love, experience and support of each other through the many changing facets of life.
Interestingly, when Jesus said that He and His Father were “one” it was the same word used to describe a couple when they become one.
In other words, oneness flows directly out of a deep relationship of truly knowing one another.
If this is the ideal for marriage that is held up for us, then how do we get there?
It is tempting to think of oneness as the goal of marriage, but to me that reduces it to one more thing to do in life. Authentic and fulfilling marriage is not about ticking off a list of KPIs to ensure a successful relationship any more than it is about following the “10 Steps to a Successful Marriage” kind of approach.
Oneness in marriage is best seen as a journey or trip that a couple makes together over a lifetime toward a destination of security, wholeness and freedom and it will be a journey that is never quite fully reached because the couple will always be discovering something new along the way!
I describe this journey as the pathways to oneness and I will share some of these with you over the next few months!